U.S. intelligence report warns of looming ‘catastrophic’ shocks worldwide due to tech, disease

Issues will ‘intersect and cascade,’ report claims

Updated: April 10, 2021 - 8:43pm

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A U.S. intelligence report is warning of a potentially grim set of scenarios in which factors like environmental issues and technology disruptions could have a significantly destabilizing effect on the global order in the near future.

The report, published in March by the National Intelligence Council, claims that "global challenges" such as disease, "environmental degradation," and "novel technologies" that disrupt the economy, will all contribute to "wide- spread strains on states and societies as well as shocks that could be catastrophic."

Economic factors such as "rising national debt, a more complex and fragmented trading environment, the global spread of trade in services, new employment disruptions, and the continued rise of powerful firms" are contributing to the changing global landscape, the report argues, as is "a growing gap between public demands and what governments can deliver."

Projecting outward to the year 2040, the report states: "Human responses to these core drivers and emerging dynamics will determine how the world evolves during the next two decades." 

The paper’s most optimistic scenario is one it dubs a "renaissance of democracies," in which "the world is in the midst of a resurgence of open democracies led by the United States and its allies."

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