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As per Wikipedia, The National Intelligence Council, the NIC, is the center for midterm and long-term strategic thinking within the United States Intelligence Community. The NIC is the body that is charged by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) with synthesizing the analyzes of the entire U.S. intelligence community and producing National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs). Their latest report, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, from November of 2008, is available online and may be downloaded in PDF format.

Among the future certainties they note the following:

A global multipolar system is emerging with the rise of China, India, and others. The relative power of nonstate actors—businesses, tribes, religious organizations, and even criminal networks—also will increase.

The unprecedented shift in relative wealth and economic power roughly
from West to East now under way will continue.

The United States will remain the single most powerful country but will be less dominant.

A look at what lies ahead, according to the NIC, may provide some insight into important US foreign policy issues and as to what influences certain decisions made by our policy makers today.

Listed as a likely impacts are:

By 2025 a single "international community" composed of nation-states will no longer exist. Power will be more dispersed with the newer players bringing new rules of the game while risks will increase that the traditional Western alliances will weaken. Rather than emulating Western models of political and economic development, more countries may be attracted to China’s alternative development model.

Shrinking economic and military capabilities may force the US into a difficult set of trade-offs between domestic versus foreign policy priorities.

Important uncertainties listed in the report include those related to energy and the transition away from oil and gas, the use of "clean coal", bio-fuels and improved energy storage. Climate change is also noted as being an important uncertainty... "how quickly it occurs and the locations where its impact is most pronounced."

One point in this category which stands out is the concern over access to resources. History shows us that one of the reasons coups and regime changes, wars and military occupations have been undertaken has been access to resources. As we have seen, nationalization of a country's important resources can lead to trouble for such countries.

Descending into a world of resource nationalism increases the risk of great power confrontations.

The entire NIC report is 89 pages long.

There is another interesting look ahead with respect to energy from Shell Oil, one of the world's 4 or 5 major oil companies, Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell and Total. This is from an article in The Oil Drum from 25 January 2008, an email to Shell employees from Jeroen van der Veer, the CEO of Shell, and explicitly meant for wider distribution. It was posted on The Oil Drum by Jerome a Paris.

Jeroen writes that the long term future looks bright but that "getting there will be an adventure".

By the year 2100, the world's energy system will be radically different from today's. Renewable energy like solar, wind, hydroelectricity and bio-fuels will make up a large share of the energy mix, and nuclear energy too will have a place.

Mankind will have found ways of dealing with air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. New technologies will have reduced the amount of energy needed to power buildings and vehicles.

He writes of two possible scenarios. The first he calls Scramble. The alternative scenario he refers to as Blueprints.

In the Scramble scenario, nations rush to secure energy resources for themselves, fearing that energy security is a zero-sum game, with clear winners and losers. The use of local coal and homegrown biofuels increases fast.

Taking the path of least resistance, policymakers pay little attention to curbing energy consumption - until supplies run short. Likewise, despite much rhetoric, greenhouse gas emissions are not seriously addressed until major shocks trigger political reactions. Since these responses are overdue, they are severe and lead to energy price spikes and volatility.

Let us hope the world chooses another option. This one, which Shell calls the Blueprints scenario, looks much better.

Blueprints scenario sees numerous coalitions emerging to take on the challenges of economic development, energy security and environmental pollution through cross-border cooperation.

Much innovation occurs at the local level, as major cities develop links with industry to reduce local emissions. National governments introduce efficiency standards, taxes and other policy instruments to improve the environmental performance of buildings, vehicles and transport fuels.

As calls for harmonization increase, policies converge across the globe. Cap-and-trade mechanisms that put a cost on industrial CO 2 emissions gain international acceptance. Rising CO2 prices accelerate innovation, spawning breakthroughs. A growing number of cars are powered by electricity and hydrogen, while industrial facilities are fitted with technology to capture CO 2 and store it underground.

I'm not advocating anything in this diary, but only to point readers to information which others with some expertise tell us about what the future might entail. If we allow history to guide us we know that a totally accurate picture of the future cannot be projected.

Perhaps this diary will highlight some important concerns that lie ahead and help to guide us in making wise choices in our own lives and in encouraging leadership which will create and implement policies based on a balance of what is good for all humanity and which have respect for the planet we live on.

Originally posted to truong son traveler on Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 07:25 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "Shrinking economic and military capabilities..." (11+ / 0-)

    How about we shrink those military capabilities starting right now by shutting down some large percentage of those 800+ military bases we have overseas?

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 07:37:44 PM PST

  •  What's Jeroen's UID here? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    He could have gleaned all this from reading this site.

    "If we can't be free at least we can be cheap." Zappa

    by Zwoof on Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 07:48:47 PM PST

  •  So far, (7+ / 0-)

    it sounds like Scramble

    Taking the path of least resistance, policymakers pay little attention to curbing energy consumption - until supplies run short. Likewise, despite much rhetoric, greenhouse gas emissions are not seriously addressed until major shocks trigger political reactions. Since these responses are overdue, they are severe and lead to energy price spikes and volatility.

    from DC.

    I'd like to see the CEOs of the major oil corporations do a bit less in pretty PR ads and a lot more in non-prettified truth-telling. I have to think that they want their businesses to survive, and they're not stupid--but too often it looks as if their corporations think we are.

    They have the opportunity to lead. And if they truly lead, the politicians will fall into line. But there's a lot of distrust and ill-will to overcome.

    If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.--A Boston cabbie, to Gloria Steinem, in the 1970s

    by Mnemosyne on Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 07:54:52 PM PST

  •  thanks for the diary, truong! (5+ / 0-)

    I enjoy your writing, and your topics.

    I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this. (Emo Philips)

    by erratic on Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 08:05:15 PM PST

  •  Miss seeing you around. (2+ / 0-)

    As always, excellent and informative diary!

    We don't have to invade Iraq to find terrorists. They're right here killing abortion doctors. - Dr. Warren Hern

    by JaciCee on Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 08:23:28 PM PST

  •  I have to laugh. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    The weak noises coming, even from the best leaders we've got the environment in nations in Europe are 'scrambling' as well. No nation on this planet is even making more than a fraction of the effort needed to offset the damage we are doing.

    What's not addressed in the NIC and DNI summaries are the incredible numbers of climate change refugees that will be 'scrambiling', which will trigger military actions and massive political instability.

    All Hell is about to break loose, and they are talking about 'Blueprints'.

    Try to make it real, compared to what.

    by shpilk on Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 09:16:30 PM PST

    •  Yes, that's true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo

      reading through the entire report one gets the impression that climate change is a given and we're just waiting around to see what happens and then try to deal with it as best we can.

      Take a look at the graph on page 43 of the NIC report which projects a breakdown of likely energy sources through 2030. It shows coal, oil and gas sources all continuing to increase through the period.

      I tried uploading the graph to Photobucket but the Internet here seems to be jammed today and I'm unable to upload it at this time.

      It's going to fall upon us to impress the seriousness of this situation upon those who set policy. No easy task.

      East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet ... Kipling

      by truong son traveler on Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 09:51:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  and furthermore (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, Pluto

      They look at climate change as beneficial in making it easier to exploit the earth's resources.

      From page 52:

      Two Climate Change Winners Russia has the potential to gain the most from increasingly temperate weather. Russia has vast untapped reserves of natural gas and oil in Siberia and also offshore in the Arctic, and warmer temperatures should make the reserves considerably more accessible. This would be a huge boon to the Russian economy, as presently 80 percent of the country’s exports and 32 percent of government revenues derive from the production of energy and raw materials.

      In addition, the opening of an Arctic waterway could provide economic and commercial advantages. However, Russia could be hurt by damaged infrastructure as the Arctic tundra melts and will need new technology to develop the region’s fossil energy.

      Canada will be spared several serious North American climate-related developments—intense hurricanes and withering heat waves—and climate change could open up millions of square miles to development.

      Access to the resource-rich Hudson Bay would be improved, and being a circumpolar power ringing a major portion of a warming Arctic could be a geopolitical and economic bonus. Additionally, agricultural growing seasons will lengthen, net energy demand for heating/cooling will likely drop, and forests will expand somewhat into the tundra.
      However, not all soil in Canada can take advantage of the change in growing season, and some forest products are already experiencing damage due to changes in pest infestation enabled by warmer climates...

      East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet ... Kipling

      by truong son traveler on Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 10:36:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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