By the year 2030, for the first time in history, a majority of the world's population will be out of poverty. Middle classes will be the most important social and economic sector. Asia will enjoy the global power status it last had in the Middle Ages, while the 350-year rise of the West will be largely reversed. Global leadership may be shared, and the world is likely to be democratizing.
But the planet may also be racked by wars over food and water, with the environment threatened by climate change. Individuals, equipped with new lethal and disruptive technologies, will be capable of causing widespread harm. Global economic crises could well be recurring.
It all depends on how events develop over the next decade, according to a new report, Global Trends 2030, prepared by the National Intelligence Council, comprising the 17 U.S. government intelligence agencies.
"We are at a critical juncture in human history, which could lead to widely contrasting futures," writes Christopher Kojm, the NIC chairman, in his introduction to the report.
The intelligence agencies update their Global Trends reporting every four years, in part to guide incoming presidential administrations. The new report identifies some new "mega-trends," including individual empowerment and the diffusion of global power, as well as highlighting issues that were covered in previous reports, such as growing conflict over access to food, water and energy sources.
What do you think is coming?