The World In 2030

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Joseph S. Nye, originally posted at Project Syndicate,

What will the world look like two decades from now? Obviously, nobody knows, but some things are more likely than others. Companies and governments have to make informed guesses, because some of their investments today will last longer than 20 years. In December, the United States National Intelligence Council (NIC) published its guess: Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds.

The NIC foresees a transformed world, in which “no country – whether the US, China, or any other large country – will be a hegemonic power.” This reflects four “megatrends”:

[These trends exist today, but during the next 15-20 years they will deepen and become more intertwined, producing a qualitatively different world. For example, the hundreds of millions of entrants into the middle classes throughout all regions of the world create the possibility of a global “citizenry” with a positive effect on the global economy and world politics. Equally, absent better management and technologies, growing resource constraints could limit further development, causing the world to stall its engines.]


1. Individual Empowerment and the growth of a global middle class;


2. Diffusion of Power from states to informal networks and coalitions;


3. Demographic changes, owing to urbanization, migration, and aging;


4. Increased demand for food, water, and energy.


Each trend is changing the world and “largely reversing the historic rise of the West since 1750, restoring Asia’s weight in the global economy, and ushering in a new era of ‘democratization’ at the international and domestic level.” The US will remain “first among equals” in hard and soft power, but “the ‘unipolar moment’ is over.”

It is never safe, however, to project the future just by extrapolating current trends. Surprise is inevitable, so the NIC also identifies what it calls “game-changers,” or outcomes that could drive the major trends off course in surprising ways.

First among such sources of uncertainty is the global economy: will volatility and imbalances lead to collapse, or will greater multipolarity underpin greater resilience? Similarly, will governments and institutions be able to adapt fast enough to harness change, or will they be overwhelmed by it?

Moreover, while interstate conflict has been declining, intrastate conflict driven by youthful populations, identity politics, and scarce resources will continue to plague some regions like the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. And that leads to yet another potentially game-changing issue: whether regional instability remains contained or fuels global insecurity.

Then there is a set of questions concerning the impact of new technologies. Will they exacerbate conflict, or will they be developed and widely accessible in time to solve the problems caused by a growing population, rapid urbanization, and climate change?

The final game-changing issue is America’s future role. In the NIC’s view, the multi-faceted nature of US power suggests that even as China overtakes America economically – perhaps as early as the 2020’s – the US will most likely maintain global leadership alongside other great powers in 2030. “The potential for an overstretched US facing increased demands,” the NIC argues, “is greater than the risk of the US being replaced as the world’s preeminent political leader.”

Is this good or bad for the world? In the NIC’s view, “a collapse or sudden retreat of US power would most likely result in an extended period of global anarchy,” with “no stable international system and no leading power to replace the US.”

The NIC discussed earlier drafts of its report with intellectuals and officials in 20 countries, and reports that none of the world’s emerging powers has a revisionist view of international order along the lines of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, or the Soviet Union. But these countries’ relations with the US are ambiguous. They benefit from the US-led world order, but are often irritated by American slights and unilateralism. One attraction of a multipolar world is less US dominance; but the only thing worse than a US-supported international order would be no order at all.

The question of America’s role in helping to produce a more benign world in 2030 has important implications for President Barack Obama as he approaches his second term. The world faces a new set of transnational challenges, including climate change, transnational terrorism, cyber insecurity, and pandemics. All of these issues require cooperation to resolve.

Obama’s 2010 National Security Strategy argues that the US must think of power as positive-sum, not just zero-sum. In other words, there may be times when a more powerful China is good for the US (and for the world). For example, the US should be eager to see China increase its ability to control its world-leading greenhouse-gas emissions.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has referred to the Obama administration’s foreign policy as being based on “smart power,” which combines hard and soft power resources, and she argues that we should not talk about “multipolarity,” but about “multi-partnerships.” Likewise, the NIC report suggests that Americans must learn better how to exercise power with as well as over other states.

To be sure, on issues arising from interstate military relations, understanding how to form alliances and balance power will remain crucial. But the best military arrangements will do little to solve many of the world’s new transnational problems, which jeopardize the security of millions of people at least as much as traditional military threats do. Leadership on such issues will require cooperation, institutions, and the creation of public goods from which all can benefit and none can be excluded.

The NIC report rightly concludes that there is no predetermined answer to what the world will look like in 2030. Whether the future holds benign or malign scenarios depends in part on the policies that we adopt today.

The upper chart below shows US share of real global GDP under four 'alternate' scenarios. The lower chart illustrates patterns in the shift in global economic clout across regions (measured in terms of regions’/countries’ share of global GDP) in 2010 and in our four scenarios for 2030. The four scenarios are:

  • Stalled Engines–a scenario in which the US and Europe turn inward and globalization stalls.
  • Fusion–a world in which the US and China cooperate, leading to worldwide cooperation on global challenges.
  • Gini-Out-of-the-Bottle–a world in which economic inequalities dominate.
  • Nonstate World–a scenario in which nonstate actors take the lead in solving global challenges.




GlobalTrends_2030 by xxyyxxyy123123

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Daily Bail's picture

SIGN IT NOW! - New White House Petition To Audit U.S. Gold Supply

Someone posted a link to this earlier today here at ZH and I turned it into a story.  If we can get Matt Drudge to pick it up (he does own gold), we'll get the 25,000 signatures in a few hours.

Thank you.

AlaricBalth's picture

I don't know what the world will look like in 2030 but I am fairly certain this is what my son will look like.

Have a nice day. :-)

macholatte's picture



Does this National Intelligence Council have any kind of track record that would justify spending the time to read their latest work product?



TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


Does this National Intelligence Council have any kind of track record that would justify spending the time to read their latest work product?

USNIC: Useless Shit, Nothing Indicating Credibility

knukles's picture

I was thinking more like glow in the dark glassine parking lots and desertification devoid of most life excepting cockroaches, molds and mutants.

Mother Earth will still be here, having rid herself of the pestilence currently referred to as humanity and all its toxic byproducts with notable emphasis on the deprecation of ego, the inequities of the selfish and tyranny of evil men...
Just a guess considering the noble actions of Our Glorious leaders and March of Narcissism.

TwoShortPlanks's picture


"To be sure, on issues arising from interstate military relations, understanding how to form alliances and balance power will remain crucial... Leadership on such issues will require cooperation, institutions, and the creation of public goods from which all can benefit and none can be excluded."

"Nonstate World–a scenario in which nonstate actors take the lead in solving global challenges."

*scratches head*..."nonstate actors"...I wonder if Henry 'Captain America' Kissinger knows of any nonstate actors who might be prepared to generously take the lead in solving global challenges? You know, someone who might be persuaded to play, oh, say, Global Monarchical Ruler...I'd sure hate to be in their shoes!

*Light-Bulb Moment*...hey, what say we get those nice people at the UN down here and see if they can't come up with a plan to help us out. Sure! They're friends with other nice cats at the IMF, World Bank, CFR, Club of Rome, Trilateral Commission and if my memory serves me correctly, they've even got this Sustainable Development-Thingy happening already. Policing force, money, treaties, planning....hey, this just might all work out...phew, for a minute there I thought we were screwed!

trav777's picture

the fuckin oil supply ain't there to power these rosy scenarios of zillions of entrants into the middle class happily motoring to suburban homes just like idiot americans

Flakmeister's picture

But..but, but, the pretty picture of all that light tight oil... They wouldn't lie to us would they?

Bobbyrib's picture

Maybe they're compartively speaking. If all the nations of the world have a lower standard of living for their middle class, maybe they're saying the nations with a projected higher middle class will have a larger amount or percentage of people living those lower, but still "middle class" living standards.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

This report should have been called Gullibility Test 2030: Imaginary Worlds (for X-BOX®, Playstation®, and Wii®). It's just too ridiculous to be taken seriously. The bewildering array of multi-dimensional wrongness displayed in its assumptions and conclusions makes one wonder if its production was outsourced to the writing staff of

It is truly a stunning accomplishment in full-spectrum absurdity.

JR's picture


If the target is a worldwide middle class, it will be Obama’s definition of a middle class. A worldwide employee class for the globalists is really what it is.

The current Chairman of the National Intelligence Council is Christopher A. Kojm, term of office July 6, 2009 - present, and Principal Deputy is Stephen Kaplan, 2007-present both currently serving under Barack Obama. They identify their NIC mission as “leading intelligence integration.”

 The NIC website in its Who We Are:

“The National Intelligence Council supports the Director of National Intelligence in his role as head of the Intelligence Community (IC) and is the IC’s center for long-term strategic analysis

“ Since its establishment in 1979, the NIC has served as a bridge between the intelligence and policy communities, a source of deep substantive expertise on intelligence issues, and a facilitator of Intelligence Community collaboration and outreach.

“The NIC’s National Intelligence Officersdrawn from government, academia, and the private sector—are the Intelligence Community’s senior experts on a range of regional and functional issues.”

The Vigilant Citizen this week in its article entitled “The National Intelligence Council Predicts a Very Transhuman Future by 2030 reports:

“The latest NIC report…discusses several issues such as the decline of the role of the United States as a global policeman and the rise of non-state actors in world politics. It also mentions another key issue: A fast-paced race towards transhumanism.

“’Human Augmentation’ is indeed considered a key issue in the next 15 years as new technologies will allow all kinds of modifications ‘ranging from implants and prosthetics to powered exoskeletons, human augmentation enhancing innate human abilities’. These augmentations would be used on soldiers, workers and anyone that can afford them, giving them ‘super-human’ powers and capabilities, whether it be on a physical or a mental level.”

If this doesn’t scare you to death, what will?

knukles's picture

Global 1% is $20,000.

Yep.  On a global basis, the upper 1% of wage earners is approximately $20,000, gross unadjusted income. 

So, for all your uber-liberal friends who preach about taxing the piss out of the rich and integrating everything on a global basis, let them know they're overdue for some serious confiscation.

Nope, they'll tell you it ain't true or ignore reality... as Uber-Liberals and Neo-Cons are want to do.

JR's picture

Now that's information you can believe in. Thanks, knukles!

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

There aren't even enough resources to support the world's existing middle class for more than a few more years. To suggest that hundreds of millions more people will be joining the ranks of the middle class defies credibility.

The chart predicting the increase in US shale oil production appears to be based on the assumption that Monsanto will soon be successful in its efforts to genetically engineer unicorns with hardened, rotating horns which burrow through the shale and then shit light sweet crude into a pipeline.

TwoShortPlanks's picture

Define 'Middle Class' in your mind?

I can define a Middle Class with a population number and standard of living which is 100% sustainable...but you won't like it.

You need to re-define your parameters to suit their language!

malek's picture

To be in the global top 1% you need to earn $20,000 gross annually?
Just take the US median household income, their headcount and how many these US households embody as a share of world population, plus that half of those US household members make more than the median and you see it can't be right before even counting in a single person living outside the US.

lewy14's picture

Sorry you don't like transhumanism but how are you going to prevent it?

Laws? Prosecutions? War on implants?

The more it's regulated the more the über class keep all the goodies to themselves. (If you haven't noticed, laws and regulations don't apply to them.)

Tsukato's picture

How can anyone make 20 year forecasts without factoring in nanotechnology and 3-d printing for the masses? Nobody has a clue of what even 5 years later will look like. Who's paying these people?

lewy14's picture

Maybe they know something we don't. Maybe the mother of all Luddite campaigns is around the corner. Future is too much for the PTB so they'll cancel it.

NotApplicable's picture

Meanwhile the local 911 office is busy formulating... I kid you not... a FIFTY YEAR PLAN!

These fucksticks can't figure out how to get through the day, let alone tomorrow, but hey, don't let that stop them from wasting who knows how much wealth in the process.

I mean, it's not like we can't afford it, right???

The did a recent remodel which immediately caught fire as it the new wiring job was fubar. TADA!

I got a good laugh watching all of the fire trucks save their HQ.

Zap Powerz's picture

Thank you for this.  It made me laugh.

AldousHuxley's picture

Europe will become just a tourist land
Russia and Asia will be where profits are
Us will become Europe
Africa will alwAys be young since they die in wars

centerline's picture

Concept of "profits" is what might wind up redefined.  Plus, cultural differences will take more time to shift than anyone wants to admit.  Think about what would be required to bring about a big black/white group hug in Atlanta.  lol.

Mr Pink's picture

Would have been easier to just watch Roadwarrior again

bobthehorse's picture

In 2030?

I'm expecting a communist revolution.

The poor will be richer.

And the rich will much poorer.

The internet changed everything.

Government will be extremely powerful.

Not Too Important's picture

2030 - Rampant cancer and heart disease worldwide from ongoing Fukushima radiation, with many more NPP's having failed. Skyrocteting Infant Mortality Rates. Very high percentages of babies that are born will be deformed. Non-existent health care for any of them. The uber-wealthy all living in Patagonia, living out their last years surrounded by private armies.

kliguy38's picture

Terrible Timmy will begin his reign as the most loved dictator regaded as the savior of business by instituting the 217th bank bailout proclamation and UberQE declaring that NO gold will be allowed on United States soil.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Fortunately, by the time Terrible Timmy begins his dictatorial reign, the extent of what can be considered United States soil will consist solely of the area contained within the I-495 Beltway Moat and a rather tenuous claim to the Reagan-Corzine Islands (a.k.a. the Diaoyu Islands, a.k.a. the Senkaku Islands).

Fukushima Sam's picture

On the bright side the radiation should reduce the birth rate.

trav777's picture

...apparently another idiot who didn't study Chernobyl dead zone

francis_sawyer's picture

This is a publication from the "National Intelligence Council"


Act accordingly


Christopher A. Kojm is chairman of the United States National Intelligence Council.[1]


Kojm received an AB from Harvard College in 1977 and an MA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1979.[1][2] From 1979 to 1984 he was a senior editor at the Foreign Policy Association in New York City.[2][1]

From 1984 to 1998 he was a staff member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee under Lee H. Hamilton, the ranking member, then chairman of the committee.[2][1]

From 1998 to 2003, Kojm was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence Policy and Coordination in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.[2] He then served as Deputy Director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, later serving as president of the 9/11 Public Discourse Project.[2]

Between 2004 and 2006, he was a Visiting Professor at his alma mater, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.[2] In 2006, he was a senior adviser to the Iraq Study Group.[2][1] In 2007, he became a faculty member of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.[2][1]

macholatte's picture


A Progressive Pedigree if ever there was one.  Only thing missing is a relationship with the Center for American Progress or other such Soros-Clinton Machine group.

francis_sawyer's picture

The only thing I got out of this report [besides an understanding who was responsible for the publication], is that supposedly all the hot young tail will be in Afghanistan, Yemen, & sub Sahara Africa...

Cathartes Aura's picture

hmm, that sounds like the cloven hooves varietal. . .

falak pema's picture

Lo and Behold according to Krugman the super duper Neo Keynesian the debt nightmare is solved (govt debt not banksta debt) :

KRUGMAN: The Chart That Proves The Debt Problem Is "Mostly Solved" - Business Insider

As they say : Popcorn all around may the great debate now begin. Trillion dollar coins and trillion dollar spending cuts! 

LeisureSmith's picture

While Krugman is esposing the benfits of an alchemy based economic model, i say why not take the next step and just go with the homeopathy baced economic model?  You know, to gain recognition and praise among his peers.

Spastica Rex's picture

Hey - maybe he's actually on to something!

The X axis on the graph is zero, right?

bugs_'s picture

In the year 2525 if man and woman can survive will ZeroHedge be alive

Zap Powerz's picture

Yes, sort of.  But by then there will have been splitting of ZeroHedge into two factions: ZeroHedgeRs and ZeroHedgIEs.

Bloody wars will be fought over who is the truest of true ZH believers.

I promise you this. At any given time in the future, human nature will still exist and it will not have changed.

And why should it?  Human nature is fucking awesome!  Sure there are bad apples, but humans have climbed to the top of the motherfucking food chain!  We kicked the ass of all challengers to be King of the planet.

The Joker's picture

Top of the food chain?  Next time I come face to face with a mountain lion I'll have to remember that.

Rogue Trooper's picture

Valid point but that was why man 'invented' the 7.62 X 51....... For that and other situations when your life and/or freedom is at risk.

308 Winchester ... Accept no substitutesTM

The Joker's picture

Top of the food chain?  Next time I come face to face with a mountain lion I'll have to remember that.

joego1's picture

Just more food for glow in the dark cockroaches in the end.

blabam's picture

2. Diffusion of Power from states to informal networks and coalitions;

That would be nice. 

Zap Powerz's picture

Yeah, I have no doubt those that hold all the power are going to willingly and peacefully just let it be diffused away from them.