Politics

Eight ‘Black Swan’ Events that Would Change the World
Forget the fiscal cliff. These eight “black swan” events, while unlikely, would send shockwaves rippling through the global economy, a National Intelligence Council report says.

pandemic, virus

Severe Pandemic

Superbug: It’s impossible to predict which bug will begin spreading across the human population or where it will begin. But one thing is for sure, a new and easily infectious pathogen affecting the respiratory system that kills or incapacitates greater than 1% of its victims could “result in millions of people suffering and dying in every corner of the world in less than six months.”

Photo Source: Reuters

glacier, glaciers, climate change, global warming

Much More Rapid Climate Change

The world, she is a changin’: The world’s climate is already changing “at a faster rate than expected.” And it’s difficult for scientists to predict exactly what path it will take. What is clear is that “rapid changes” in precipitation, especially in Asia, “could sharply disrupt that region’s ability to feed its population.”

Photo Source: Reuters

European Union, European Union flags

Eurozone / European Union Collapse

Contagion … of the political and financial sorts: Think the collapse of Lehman Brothers was bad? The National Intelligence Council reckons an unruly jettisoning of Greece from the eurozone could cause eight times as much collateral damage and spark a broader crisis for the embattled currency bloc.

REUTERS

Chinese flag, china flag, china

A Democratic or Collapsed China

The best of times or the worst of times? Purchasing power of Chinese individuals is set to pass $15,000 on a widely-used scale (purchasing power parity) in the next half decade. That could set off a wave of democratic movements. On the flip side, a more democratic China may also be a more nationalistic one. Perhaps worst of all would be an economic collapse there, which would “trigger political unrest and shock the global economy.”

Photo Source: Reuters

Iran, Iran reformed

A Reformed Iran

What red line? Public pressure and international sanctions could force Iran to come out of isolation and potentially even drop its nuclear program. That would make for a less volatile Middle East.

Photo Source: Reuters

mushroom cloud

Nuclear War or WMD/Cyber Attack

Mounting risks on many fronts: Nuclear powers like Russia and Pakistan and players looking to enter the nuclear game like Iran and North Korea “see nuclear weapons as compensation for other political and security weaknesses, heightening the risk of their use.” Plus, there is a risk of non-state actors (like terrorists) using weapons of mass destruction or even waging cyber warfare.

Sun, solar energy, sun energy

Solar Geomagnetic Storms

Here comes the sun: Geomagnetic storms aren’t the subject of science fiction. They actually could “knock out satellites, the electric grid and many sensitive electronic devices.” The more the world depends on energy, the greater a risk this poses.

Photo Source: Reuters

white house, washington DC

U.S. Disengagement

When giants fall: It seems impossible, but a sudden collapse or retreat of America, long a global superpower, would likely plunge the world into anarchy for an extended period. After all, the National Intelligence Council notes “no leading power would be likely to replace the United States as guarantor of the international order.”  

Photo Source: Reuters

Eight ‘Black Swan’ Events that Would Change the World

Forget the fiscal cliff. These eight “black swan” events, while unlikely, would send shockwaves rippling through the global economy, a National Intelligence Council report says.

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