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ABC, Spain

What Will 2030 Be Like?


By Emili J. Blasco

Translated By Pedro Garcés

10 December 2012

Edited by Lau­ren Gerken


Spain - ABC - Original Article (Spanish)

For the first time, the middle class will be the most important economic and social sector in most countries worldwide (it will rise from 1,000 million up to 3,000 million, exceeding the impoverished population), which will help “substantially accelerate”* the power of the individual. This, along with the absence of a dominant hegemonic power — the U.S. will become the second economic power and, globally speaking, will be downgraded to “first among equals” — will lead to a wider diffusion of power, focused on “informal networks” and a new era of democratization. This is the horizon that has been drawn by a U.S. intelligence survey. Furthermore, it is said that an armed conflict between China and the U.S. will be “unlikely,” that the most troubled areas will be the Middle East and Southeast Asia (modernization will provoke more tension) and that new energy opportunities in many countries will move them away from the Russian market, which might weaken Russia and push it toward greater aggression.

The aim of “Global Trends 2030,” the survey carried out by the U.S. National Intelligence Council and presented today in Washington, is not to determine the exact path the world will take in 15 or 20 years. Its aim is to indicate some trends that will probably be followed — or even seen as risks — and to take into account different hypothetical scenarios. Coming from the U.S., it is striking how quietly this country has accepted that it will no longer have the predominant role.

Tectonic Changes

1. In most developing areas around the world, the middle class will substantially spread both in absolute numbers and in percentage.

2. The power of individuals and small groups will have a flip side: It will allow them to have more individual access to “lethal and spoilt technologies” (precise attacks, cyber attacks and bio-terrorism) and, as a result, they will perpetrate large-scale violence, something of which only states were capable previously. In any case, “Islamic terrorism” will disappear by 2030.

3. Asia will leave behind both North America and Europe in terms of global power. China will surpass the U.S. as the biggest economy by 2030, although it will not take over the same hegemonic role that previously belonged to the U.S.

4. The aging population will be a problem not only in the West; in many other societies the young population will decrease too.

5. The urbanization process will spread. Africa will gradually replace Asia as the region with the biggest urban growth index. 6. The demand for food, water and energy will grow by approximately 35 percent, 40 percent and 50 percent respectively. It will be a risk for Africa and the Middle East, and China and India will also become vulnerable. 7. The U.S. will reach energy independence thanks to the development of “fracking.”

China: Democracy or Collapse

China will exceed the threshold of $15,000 in income of purchasing power parity in five years. According to the survey, this level is often considered to be “a turning point” for democracy. On the one hand, a democratic China might be more nationalist; on the other, an economically collapsed China would result in political instability, which would affect the global economy.

The U.S.: Peacemaker in Asia

The position of the U.S. in the world will be determined by the degree of success it has in helping to manage international crises, “typically the role of superpowers and, since 1945, what the international community expects from the U.S.” If the tensions that took place in Europe during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century take place in Asia, the U.S. will be called on to act as “peacemaker” and guarantee regional stability.

* Editor's Note: This quote and all others, while accurately translated, could not be verified.



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