US Intelligence Warns of Fractured Societies, Likelihood for Conflict

WASHINGTON – The world, already struggling with a global pandemic and challenges to long-standing systems and institutions, is unlikely to get much relief in the next 20 years, according to a new report from U.S. intelligence analysts.

Instead, they predict the institutions and systems that have dominated global events since the end of World War II will strain to respond to “cascading global challenges,” including climate change, disease, financial crises and ever-advancing technology.

“These challenges will repeatedly test the resilience and adaptability of communities, states, and the international system, often exceeding the capacity of existing systems and models,” the report warns, adding that some of the developments “could be catastrophic.”

The mostly bleak assessment is part of Global Trends 2040, a report compiled by the National Intelligence Council and issued every four years. And while the latest installment lays out some scenarios in which democracies, such as the United States, regain their footing and manage to thrive, it warns that will not happen if they do not first find a way to handle ever more intense and frequent problems.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world of its fragility and demonstrated the inherent risks of high levels of interdependence,” the report says. “The international system … is poorly set up to address the compounding global challenges.”

One of the most critical challenges identified in the report is climate change, which is expected to gradually intensify over the next two decades and subject all countries to higher temperatures, rising sea levels and more extreme weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and floods.

Poor and developing countries will be the most likely to suffer, and the inability of their governments to adapt and respond could result in new waves of migration.

That, in turn, according to the report, will strain the resources and capacities of destination countries.

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