Highway to dystopia: time to wise up to the looming risks
Putting all elements of the risk categories together, water supply and food shortage crises, volatility in energy and agricultural prices, fiscal imbalances, income disparity, and greenhouse gas emissions control, dominate the high scores.
Perhaps more significant than their relative scores is the fact that these risks are highly interconnected. Unsustainable population growth, currently with age peaks both in the young and in the old, produce enormous consumer demands for basic living requirements, societal pressures for maintenance, and issues of fiscal instability and urban management. Greenhouse gas control and climate change have major impacts on agricultural prices.
The population projections alone are formidable. By 2023, the world’s rural population will decline in absolute terms. By 2050, the global urban population will have doubled to nearly 6.2 billion, 70% of the world’s population. This will require an unimagined increase in urban capacity in the next 40 years that is equivalent to all of that built in the past 4000 years, but somehow without the accompanying environmental destruction and failure.