Unipolar world or multipolar world?
Estonia former President Arnold Rüütel.Prediction is usually a thankless business. However, if we want to move forward in time more successfully, it is useful to pay attention to prognoses based on vast generalizations.
Scientists who could foresee the triumph of computers existed already in the middle of the previous century. Unfortunately nobody could predict the explosive development of the Internet.
In the ‘60s, German nuclear physicist Wilhelm Fucks predicted the rapid development of the Chinese economy. About a quarter of a century ago Samuel Huntington warned us about the potential development of cultural conflict. If we ask ourselves now which problems we are to face in 2030, I’d selectively name:
- water, food and energy supply problems,
- aging population,
- acceleration of technical progress.
Based on respective studies, we can claim that global demand for water will rise 40 percent and by 2030 almost half of the world’s population will live in areas with major water problems.
The global need for food increases with population growth. U.S. analysts claim this growth will be about 35 percent compared to today’s figure.
Today about 1 billion people of more than 7 billion are starving. The FAO estimates that 32 countries that need external food aid are suffering a food crisis. The reasons for this crisis lie in poverty, conflict areas, as well as adverse weather conditions. Food shortages, something we thought we overcame with the so-called “green revolution,” can be seen in more and more countries.
This has brought with it riots, conflicts and instability. Global agricultural output trends show that the volume of production cannot keep up with growth in demand. By 2050 the world’s population is projected to be over 9 billion.
The most modest calculations for energy security show that by 2030 the global demand for energy will double. The greatest growth is predicted for gas-fired power stations (3.3 percent per year). Coal-fired stations with growth of 2.8 percent per year will follow. The share of the latter will presumably grow to 45 percent of total electricity production. Electricity from all alternative energy sources (wind, sun, biofuels, geothermal heat, hydrogen energy) is of peripheral importance and can at best reach 4 percent by 2030.
Analyses show that in the coming decades the prices for oil and gas will rise significantly on the world market. The reasons lie in increasingly expensive exploration, extraction and transmission.
It would be appropriate to recall here that today almost 2 billion people globally don’t know the meaning of the word “electricity.”
Returning to the matter of our aging society, we note that the share of the world population aged over 65 shall increase by 800,000 people every month. At the same time the number of children will decrease within the next half century. The aging of human society is a global process where different regions exhibit major differences. For example, in developing countries the demographic changes in population structure are taking place four times faster than in Western Europe.
The approaching demographic changes were predicted already decades ago, but the heads of state handled these warnings irresponsibly. Solving problems requires widespread international cooperation and most importantly taking relations between generations to completely new grounds.
Shift in population
One part of the demographic process is urbanization.
It is estimated that by 2030 the number of city dwellers may reach 5 billion. This brings with it ever more menacing threats to the environment.
Today cities are emitting at least 70 percent of global CO2 emissions.
Accelerating technical progress sets new challenges for the entire human race
Taking the entirety of technical progress made in the 20th century, at year 2000 levels of progress this could have been accomplished in only 20 years.
Computers nowadays are becoming “smarter” and operate for us in areas such as company management.
Nothing limits the development of technology. The entirety of modern technology has been created to satisfy human needs. Needs are growing faster than we are able to meet them. Technological progress brings us closer to the time when machine may become “more intelligent” than its creator.
What would be the most effective way to lead or control the aforementioned problematic world?
There is no doubt that the world is evolving toward global magnets.
Time will show whether there will be five or 10 of them. This list shall definitely involve the U.S., China, Japan, India, Africa etc. Europe with its culture and developments shall certainly be part of that list.