The Free Press, Mankato, MN


December 26, 2012

Our View: The future is still what we make it

— There is much to glean from the “Global Trends 2030” forecast recently released by the U.S. intelligence community.

The most obvious is that the world is a smaller place than it was when the United States began as a country and moved steadily to a position of dominance. America can still make decisions alone that will largely determine its future, but our future, as well as our opportunities, are more dependent on the rest of the world than ever before.

As we wait for the calendar to pass from 2012 to 2013, we should remind ourselves that, individually, the “American Dream” is still within our grasp. But as a country we cannot ignore global economic forces — or the global political forces that will continue coming into play.

The National Intelligence Council has given America its best forecast on what to expect in the coming years. It warns that the U.S. superpower status could erode as Asian economies surpass the combined economies of North America and Europe by 2030. Rising populations in poor countries may lead to increasing conflicts over water and food as “nearly half of the world’s population” may experience severe water shortages. The forecasters say instability could even contribute to a global economic collapse, which could be more likely due to rapid climate change.

But there are also positive predictions to share. The U.S. will become energy independent, helped along by our great storehouse of natural gas. Acts of terrorism will wane (though cyber-terrorism will increase). Technological changes could bring about the solutions to many of the world’s problems.

But let’s take a deep breath here. Predicting the future is not an easy thing to do, and though the NIC gives us a fair look at where the world might be trending, the trends themselves could change.

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