Archive for the ‘ GT2030 ’ Category

Welcome to the NIC GT 2030 blog on this question: Will megacities be a cauldron for revolution or an engine for technological innovation? We will have contributions this week from the following people:

  • Dr. Howard Passell, ecologist, Earth Systems Analysis Dept., Sandia National Labs, Albuquerque, NM, USA, will offer introductory materials on megacities and address the question posed above.
  • Dr. Peter Engelke, Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council of the United States, Strategic Foresight Initiative, will write on “The wealth and power nexus: will megacities revolutionize global governance?”
  • Dr. Nancy Brune, a political economist, is a Non Resident Senior Fellow at the Center casino online for casino online A New American Security where she For example, the 1000 Genomes Project recover deleted files size is about 200 TB. works on issues of natural security, the water-energy-security casino pa natet In addition to providing the highest level of security in online casino the recovery industry today, DriveSavers Data Recovery offers a High Security Service that adheres to US Government protocols and a Forensics Service that supports law enforcement agencies and other legal entities online slots in the United States and abroad. nexus, and food security. She will write on the subject “Climate, Urbanization and Megacities in a Networked World.”
  • Dr. Nat Cobb, assistant professor in the Dept. of Family and Community Medicine, UNM School of Medicine, former Chief, Chronic Disease Branch, Division of Epidemiology, Indian Health Service, and Capt. (ret.), U.S. Public Health Service will address the question “Can we predict which megacities are most vulnerable to epidemics?”
  • Dr. Tomas Ries, Assistant Professor, Department of Security and Strategy, Swedish National Defence College, will examine “Tomorrow’s Megacities: Cauldron of Revolution or Vats of Creativity?”

Howard Passell

In the last couple of years humanity passed an important threshold: We are now predominantly an urban species, with a little more than half our total population (now a little over 7 billion) living in cities of all sizes. Accordingly, the size of cities is growing as well. In 1950 there were 75 cities with populations larger than 1 million, and in 2011 there were 447. In 1950 the average size of the 100 largest cities was 2 million, and in 2011 it was 7.6 million (Engelke 2012). In 2007 there were 19 megacities with populations greater than 10 million, and in 2025 there will be 26. In 2007 there was only one megacity with a population greater than 20 million (Tokyo, at about 36 million, with more people than Canada). In 2025 there will be 8, with many in developing nations (Table 1, UN Habitat 2009).

Table 1. Megacities

2007 2025
Population Population
(thousands) (thousands)
1 Tokyo 35,676 1 Tokyo 36,400
2 Mexico City 19,028 2 Mumbai 26,385
3 New York-Newark 19,040 3 Delhi 22,498
4 Sao Paulo 18,845 4 Dhaka 22,015
5 Mumbai 18,978 5 Sao Paulo 21,428
6 Delhi 15,926 6 Mexico City 21,009
7 Shanghai 14,987 7 New York-Newark 20,628
8 Kolkata 14,787 8 Kolkata 20,560
9 Buenos Aires 12,795 9 Shanghai 19,412
10 Dhaka 13,485 10 Karachi 19,095
11 Los Angeles 12,500 11 Kinshasa 16,762
12 Karachi 12,130 12 Lagos 15,796
13 Rio de Janeiro 11,748 13 Cairo 15,561
14 Osaka-Kobe 11,294 14 Manila 14,808
15 Cairo 11,893 15 Beijing 14,545
16 Beijing 11,106 16 Buenos Aires 13,768
17 Manila 11,100 17 Los Angeles 13,672
18 Moscow 10,452 18 Rio de Janeiro 13,413
19 Istanbul 10,061 19 Jakarta 12,363
20 Istanbul 12,102
21 Guangzhou-Guangdong 11,835
22 Osaka-Kobe 11,368
23 Moscow 10,526
24 Lahore 10,512
25 Shenzhen 10,196
26 Chennai 10,129

Source: UN-HABITAT 2008. Data from UN Population  Division, World Urbanization  Prospects 2007. Figures for 2025 are projections. Note: Population figures are for urban agglomeration, not city proper. Megacities are cities with populations of more than 10 million.

By 2030, about 450 million people may be living in megacities. That will represent only 5-6 percent of the projected global population of about 8 billion. Many of those people will be very poor, and some will be very rich. In any case, the megacities, as centers of finance, governance, manufacturing, commerce, and culture will be powerful forces of change in the world, either for good or ill, or both.

Characteristics of megacities and the threats and opportunities that may arise from them have been noted by many authors. Energy use in cities can be more efficient, due to higher population densities, but higher population densities along with weaknesses in freshwater, food, and energy availability and waste treatment processes can create devastating poverty, disease, and suffering. Freshwater, food, and energy will flow into cities from areas around the cities, creating the potential for resource depletion around the cities, and the waste flowing out will pollute watersheds, air sheds, and coastal areas.  Migrant poor will flow into cities to escape regional resource depletion. They will provide cheap labor for manufacturing and service industries, or they will end up in the slums and provide fodder for the socio-political revolution.

Transportation systems  within and around megacities can grease the wheels of an effective economy if they are well designed and well maintained, or they can create physical gridlock, economic stagnation, noise, pollution, and health threats if they are not. Construction that is well regulated can create habitat for humanity, or if poorly created can create disasters large and small. Megacities are more vulnerable to natural disasters such as flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and heat waves (many of which may be exacerbated by climate disruption) just by virtue of their high population densities — but their wealth can also be used to build resilience (Niemczynowicz 1996, Molina and Molina 2004, Varis 2006, Lawrence et al. 2007, online casino Wenzel et al. 2007, Adikari 2010, Kramer et al. 2011, Engelke 2012). In all cases, wealth will be a buffer against many of the problems described above, and poverty will exacerbate them. A persistent global economic downturn may have devastating effects on megacities and all large cities struggling with increasing demands placed on decaying infrastructure.

So, will megacities be online casino a cauldron for revolution, or for technical innovation?

Let me propose that the answer to this question will be a function of the ability of megacity governance to manage growth (by both reproduction and migration) and resource consumption. A megacity will be a cauldron for revolution if it cannot manage both well, and an engine for innovation if it casino online can.

This proposal implies at least a couple things. First, it implies that governance, and not the private sector, should have a strong role in managing growth and resources. Around the world we see that good governance, along with wealth, can overcome the confining influence of resource scarcity. Singapore is an example of a big city (pop. 5.26 million) where that dynamic plays out, and where the city is a crucible of innovation. Good governance in Singapore has manifested over the decades as strong and strict leadership and immigration policy, good public education, and the strong rule of law. (Singapore benefits too because it is also a state, with much greater control than most cities over the dynamics described above.) We can think of many other big cities and megacities around the world where poor governance and resource scarcity are contributing to poverty, disease, and social unrest. Cities like Singapore emerge in the global landscape, but that emergence is the result of many historical events, some planned, some accidental. It is not so easy to recreate that emergence in regions around the world where it might be important.  Good governance, in megacities and everyplace else, will be an essential component for fostering that emergence.

Second, the proposal above implies that that both growth and resource consumption can effectively be managed. Although there are many policy level and technological mechanisms for providing this management, it seems true that there are fewer examples around the world where growth and resource consumption are managed effectively than where they are managed poorly or not at all.

China has managed population growth to some extent, with well-known downsides, but its resource management appears to be out of control. Population growth in the US has controlled itself through the demographic transition from high infant and child mortality and high fertility, to greater survival of infants and children and lower fertility. Some resource management in the U.S. (e.g. water and air quality, biodiversity) is good (but probably not excellent) on account of good governance, the luxury of wealth, and effective regulatory mechanisms. However, energy use in the US is out of control.  Europe’s population growth is under control because of its own demographic transition (which brings an aging population to Europe, with its own set of problems), and resource management may be managed better there than in the US. But in most other parts of the world, especially in the developing nations of Asia and Africa, pisces weekly horoscope are online casino too sensitive to criticism, and Aries is sometimes brusque and rough. both population growth and resource management may be characterized, so far, as being beyond human control. If one considers the skyrocketing exponential curve describing the growth of human population on Earth over the last few hundred years, then the conclusion that population growth is out of control is almost inescapable.

The growth of cities around the world may be a large-scale, long-term dynamic that, like the growth of population in general, may be beyond human control.  Step back for a moment, run history in fast forward, and watch the movement of humanity from what was once tiny groups widely dispersed across the surface of the Earth, each with relatively tiny and widely distributed ecological footprints,  into increasingly concentrated agglomerations of larger and larger numbers with ever increasing footprints. It looks like an evolutionary process, a biologically hard-wired feature of social hominids. How far will that go? Where is the equilibrium point in the ratio between urban and non-urban humans on Earth? Is there an optimal ratio, from the human perspective? And if we can identify it, can we manage things in such a way that we might balance ourselves on it?

Biological organisms have size limitations based upon their food and other energy sources, their metabolisms, and other ecological constraints. We have no mammals on Earth any bigger than blue whales, and they only got so big, in part, because they can float. Maybe a city is like a biological cell, moving resources in across the cell membrane, turning them into biomass (and in the case of cities, into human products) and moving waste out. Surface to volume ratios are crucial. Just how big can a city get before it can no longer move sufficient resources in across its boundaries, and before it can no longer move sufficient waste out? And as a city approaches that point, how do those stresses become manifest in human health, wealth, and security? Greater emphasis on the study of the ecology of cities would be useful.

Other authors have proposed that managing megacities will require massive technical investment, institutional development, a mix of policy measures, strong political will in managing environmental challenges in a sustainable way, and public dialogue (Molina and Molina 2004, Varis 2006). Let me propose that if population growth and resource consumption can be managed at all, then it will most likely come from some combination of all those things plus good governance, strong regulatory structures, and fiscal incentives. By good governance I mean that which is relatively free of corruption and which has the common good in mind. This will include assuring that the urban poor have sufficient opportunities to keep them invested in the rule of law. Strong regulatory structures will protect resource systems (water, energy, agriculture, ecosystems) from despoliation for short term profit. Fiscal incentives will help modify individual and collective human behaviors. All of this will benefit from computer simulation modeling implemented with stakeholders from the cities and used to evaluate tradeoffs associated with different future strategies.

But the devil is in the details, and changing our current governance, policy and fiscal approaches so that they match all those proposed above will be no easy task. Perhaps all we can conclude is that for the question posed above — Will megacities be a cauldron for revolution or for technical innovation? – the best answer may just be ‘Yes.’ And both options, peacefully achieved, might be for the best.



Adikari, Y., R. Osti, T. Noro. 2010. Flood-related disaster vulnerability: an impending crisis of megacities in Asia. Journal of Flood Management 3 (3):185-191.

Engelke, P. 2012. The security of cities; development, environment, and conflict on an urbanizing planet. The Stimson Center, Washington, DC.

Kramer, A., M. H. Khan, and H.J. Jahn. 2011. Public Health in Megacities and Urban Areas: A Conceptual Framework. In A. Kramer (ed.), Health in Megacities and Urban Areas. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Gurjar, B.R., A. Jain, A. Sharma, A. Agarwal, P. Gupta, A.S. Nagpure, J. Lelieveld. 2010. Human health risks in megacities due to air pollution. Atmospheric Environment 44:4606-4613.

Lawrence, M.G., T.M. Butler, J. Steinkamp, B.R. Gurjar, J. Lelieveld. 2007. Regional pollution potentials of megacities and other major population centers. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 7 (14): 3969-3987.

Molina, M.J., L.T. Molina. 2004. Megacities and atmospheric pollution. Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association 54(6): 644-680.

Niemczynowicz, J. 1996. Megacities from a Water Perspective. Water International 21(4): 198-205.

United Nations (UN) 2009. State of the World’s Cities, 2008/2009; Harmonious Cities. UN Human Settlements Programme, Nairobi, Kenya.

Varis, O. 2006. Megacities, Development and Water. Water Resources Development 22(2): 199-225.

Wenzel, F., F. Bendimerad, R. Sinha. 2007. Megacities – Megarisks. Natural Hazards 42: 481-491.


Howard Passell is an ecologist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

Climate Change 2030: More Extreme Weather

Climate Change 2030: More Extreme Weather

Empirical evidence alone—without reference to climate models—indicates that a general warming trend is affecting weather and ecosystems with increasing impacts on humans. Recent weather has been characterized by an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events—floods, droughts, tornadoes, glacial lake outbreaks, extreme coastal high-water levels, heat waves, cold spells, etc—and this will continue during the next 20 years.

According to the recent IPCC Special Report on Extreme Events (SREX), climate and socioeconomic trends will reinforce extreme weather, making it more frequent and intense. Although the number of tropical and extratropical cyclones probably will not increase, the average maximum wind speed for tropical cyclones will increase. Meanwhile, population growth and economic development will widen the exposure of people and property. The key unknown is whether improved disaster risk management measures will be adopted to effectively cope with these changing conditions by 2030.

Food security has been aggravated partly because during the last two decades the world’s land masses are experiencing weather conditions outside of expected norms. Observed temperature increases (though enhanced in the Arctic) are not solely a high-latitude phenomenon. Recent scientific work shows that temperature anomalies during growing seasons and droughts have lessened agricultural productivity. Degraded agriculture productivity, when coupled with more protectionist national policies tightening global supply, undercuts food security, especially in impoverished regions.

Flows in the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Niger, Amazon, and Mekong river basins have been diminished by droughts that have been persistent over the past decade. These trends are consistent with the expected effects of increased greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere, but due to the limited observational record (60 years) and a lack of understanding of decadal variability, one cannot discount the possibility that observed trends are due to other natural causes of weather variability.

Dramatic and unforeseen changes are occurring at a faster rate than expected in regions with frozen water. Current estimates suggest that Arctic summer sea ice will vanish in the period 2030-2050. Changes are occurring in the major ice shelves (Greenland and Antarctica) that were unforeseen even five years ago. Future rates of change are currently unpredictable because observed changes have outpaced the development of ice-prediction models. Scientists now estimate sea-level rise (SLR) of one meter or greater by the end of the century, most of which is expected to occur toward the end of the century. Sea-level rise could increase with rapid melt of either the Greenland Ice Sheet or the West Antarctica Ice Shelf. In the next 20 years, barring collapse of the ice shelves, the SLR trend will be modest and consistent with the recent record, about 3.3±0.4mm/year (that is, an additional ~2.5 inches global average sea-level rise). However, even this change, when coupled with potential storm surges from more intense storms and subsidence of delta lands, will have a significant adverse impact on coastal regions and Pacific small-island states.

Improved understanding of the changes in the stratosphere reveal that the ozone layer over the northern hemisphere is diminishing, leading to the possibility of greater ultraviolet (UV) radiation over northern hemisphere countries. Based on a better understanding of climate sensitivity and emissions, the present emissions pathway will lead to approximately 2°C warming by mid-century and approximately 3° to 6°C by end of century, depending on economic performance, technological advances, and energy policy. By 2030 the emissions trajectory will be cast, determining this century’s climate outcome.

by Steven Pinker

Like the other contributors to this conversation, I agree with the statement attributed to Yogi Berra that predictions are hard, especially about the future. No responsible person can predict with certainty whether the Long Peace among great powers and developed states will persist. And because we can witness the unfolding of only one universe one time, any statement of probability can be no more than a statement the theorist’s level of subjective confidence.

Still, that level of confidence can be justified to varying degrees, and it seems to me the quantitative trends underlying The Long Peace (nicely superimposed into a single graph by Allan Dafoe in his introduction) reflect genuine changes in the international system. That is, they are not just a gambler’s lucky streak that is sure to run out, an artifact of the way that wars and their human costs are counted, or a temporary lull in an inexorable cycle.  As such they support a reasonable degree of confidence that The Long Peace will persist (subject to a class of exceptions I will present at the end of this essay).

None of the reasons to dismiss the trends underlying The Long Peace strike me as sound. The wisecracks about the man plummeting off the skyscraper shouting “So far so good!” and the turkey on the eve of Thanksgiving celebrating the 364-day period of coexistence between humans and turkeys respectively assume that history is driven by an inexorable directional force or by a strict cycle. Neither theory of history is supported by data on long-term trends in wars involving great powers or developed countries. In Better Angels I summarized these data (from Jack Levy, Lewis Richardson, Peter Brecke, and others) as a superposition of four patterns (p. 192): (1) No cycles; (2) A big dose of randomness; (3) A long-term escalation in the destructiveness of war, which made a substantial U-turn after 1945; and (4) Long-term declines in the frequency and duration of war. Multiplying the trends in (3) and (4) yields the overall decline in war that we call The Long Peace, and Factor (2) should keep us humble and cautious. But nothing supports the systematic pessimism of the fables about plummeting men or complacent turkeys.

Nor do the cautionary tales about pre-World-War I optimism tell us much, except that we should always be cautious. First, the infamous Norman Angell did not predict that war was impossible, only that it was economically irrational. He feared that ideology and fear might lead the leaders of great powers to blunder into a disastrous war, and he was right. Second, though the world of a century ago had seen unprecedented levels of trade and economic integration, Bruce Russett and John Oneal have shown that when they are measured quantitatively (as a proportion of GDP) they are a tiny fraction of the levels the world has seen since 1945 (Better Angels, p. 286). Russett and Oneal’s two other statistical predictors of peace (democracy and membership in intergovernmental organizations) are also far higher today, and other indicators of war-readiness such as the prevalence and length of conscription, the proportion of the population in uniform, overall prosperity, and the political participation of women are also more favorable today. In the realm of ideas, romantic militarism and nationalism have ceded ground to war aversion and liberal humanism, and of course nowadays we have knowledge of two destructive world wars and an awareness of the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe. In no other realm of human experience could one credibly say that we have learned nothing in the past century and that the assessments of today are no more trustworthy than those of a hundred years ago.

There is, of course, a tragic-poetic vision of the human condition in which we are condemned to repeat history, to be felled by our own hubris, to regress to our nature red in tooth and claw, and so on, but it is not grounded in historical or biological fact. If The Long Peace endures, it would not be the first time in history that a longstanding barbaric institution has been abolished or at least decimated. Wars involving great powers and developed states could very well join human sacrifice, chattel slavery, public torture-executions, auto-da-fés, debtors’ prisons, bear-baiting, foot-binding, gentlemanly dueling, witch hunts, and trephination on the ash heap of history.

Nor does a realistic, nonromantic view of human nature require perpetual war (and I can speak with some authority on this, having championed a thoroughly unsentimental understanding of the crooked timber of humanity in How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate).  Though Homo sapiens undoubtedly evolved with violent instincts, those instincts are triggered by particular circumstances; they are not a hydraulic urge that must periodically be discharged. And though we evolved motives that can erupt in violence, we also evolved motives that can inhibit violence, including self-control, empathy, a sense of fairness, and open-ended cognitive mechanisms that can devise technologies for reducing violence.

None of this is to say that The Long Peace must endure. On top of the many systematic trends that militate against the resumption of great-power and developed-state war, there are the black swans, long tails, and unknown unknowns that could poke big spikes up into the declining gradient. Perhaps there is some charismatic politician working his way up through the Chinese nomenklatura who dreams of rectifying the intolerable insult of Taiwan once and for all, provoking an American or international response. Perhaps an aging Putin will seek historical immortality and restore Russian greatness by swallowing a former Soviet republic or two. Perhaps terrorists from some liberation movement no one has heard of are plotting an attack of unprecedented destruction, or a utopian ideology is fermenting in the mind of a cunning fanatic somewhere who will take over a major country and try to impose it everywhere.

Certainly no one could rule out these low-probability/high-impact events, or even begin to estimate their cumulative probability. But acknowledging our ignorance about improbable, trend-defying events is different from denying the existence of the trends. It seems to me that the Long Peace is a genuine trend that clusters with other, more-often-than not, more-or-less successful attempts over the course of human history to contain our violent impulses.



Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

World War III?

by Richard Rosecrance

Much has been made of the lessening of interstate conflict over the centuries and surely since World War II.  Whether this abstention from war will continue among Great Powers, however, is a function of the cost and benefit of territorial conquest.  Historians have argued that Great Powers got little benefit from additional territory after 1815, though imperialist expansion did not end until 1945.  Since 1950, imperial powers have had to retreat from their colonies and the world has admitted more than 100 new states to the international system.  Even if present-day economic interdependence continues, however, Great Power rivalries, like those from 1890 to 1914, will persist as one major power triumphs over another and alliance systems divide the world.

Since 1500 there have been thirteen cases of one Great Power approaching or passing a hegemonic leader in economic or military terms.  Of these, all but three ended in major war.  The United States passed Britain peacefully in 1890; there was no war when the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union came to an end, and Japan surpassed the Soviet Union economically without incident in 1983.  Two factors seem to be important in preventing war.  First, was there a mere balance of power or a favorable overbalance on the side of peace?  And second, did the erstwhile hegemon accept the territorial and other demands of the rising power?  In 1900 Britain conceded to all US requests; and in 1989, the Soviet Union faced not merely a balance but a huge overbalance of power ranged against it.  Somewhat reluctantly, Russia endorsed democratic governments in its erstwhile satellites and gave independence to its restive Western provinces including the Baltic nations, Belarus, and Ukraine.  In future, China and later India will rise to leading and perhaps hegemonic power status.  Will the United States and the West then concede all Chinese demands?  Will there be an overbalance against Chinese power, with Europe, the United States and Japan aligned together?

If not, the so-called Thucydides’ problem (where the rising power of one major state causes fear in lesser rival nations, which turn to war) might emerge once again.  To avert this outcome, the world needs to draw two conclusions:  the stronger the West, the less likely the conflict, and the more China accepts the existing rules of the international order, e.g., rule of law, intellectual property, property rights, and lessening arms races, the better the prospects of avoiding a new major clash.

The NIC document on the world in 2030 covers all possible bases without resolving these questions.  It accepts prior judgments about the decline of international conflict but also projects the possibility of war as new powers rise to hegemony, supplanting the United States.  I believe the key is to revivify the West by cementing Europe and the United States together and to tie China and India into the world trading system.  Production chains that link differentiated industries in East Asia with those in the West and Japan are entirely new and gratifying elements in the complex interdependence now in place.  These restraints did not exist in 1914.  At that time, all great powers accepted the inevitability of a new clash and did not hesitate when conflict loomed because they thought the war would be quick and it could no longer be postponed.  Today, partly because of nuclear weapons, no one thinks a conflict is inevitable.  The remaining uncertainty is whether a gradually liberalizing China will adhere to the rules of the game noted above, as it allows its internal provinces to follow more closely the models of Taiwan and Hong Kong.



  • Richard Rosecrance is Director of the US-China Relations Program of the Belfer Center in Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Adjunct Professor of Public Policy and Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center, and Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at UCLA.   Among many other books, he has written, The Rise of the Trading StateThe Rise of the Virtual State, and forthcoming, The Return of the West: To Prevent Another World War I  (Yale University Press, Spring, 2013).

by Benjamin Fordham 

I enjoyed Jack Levy’s comments on how the world would have looked to people writing in 1912. As part of my current research, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the three decades before World War I. As Levy pointed out, this last period of great power peace has some interesting parallels with the present one. Like today, the international economy had become increasingly integrated. For good reason, some even refer to this period as the “first age of globalization.” The period also saw the emergence of several new great powers, including Japan, Germany, and the United States. Like emerging powers today, each of these states sought to carve out its own world role and to find, as the German Foreign Secretary put it, a “place in the sun.” Like Levy, I don’t think these parallels we are doomed to repeat the catastrophe of 1914. I want to highlight the different institutional rules governing the international economic system today. The dangers discussed in the NIC report are real, but there is reason for hope when it comes to avoiding great power war.

The rules of the game governing the “first age of globalization” encouraged great powers to pursue foreign policies that made political and military conflict more likely. Declining transportation costs, not more liberal trade policies, drove economic integration. There was no web of international agreements discouraging states from pursuing protectionist trade policies. As Patrick McDonald‘s recent book, The Invisible Hand of Peace, explains nicely, protectionism went hand-in-hand with aggressive foreign policies. Many of the great powers, including the emerging United States, sought to shut foreign competitors out of their home markets even as they sought to expand their own overseas trade and investment. Even though markets and investment opportunities in less developed areas of the world were small, great power policy makers found these areas attractive because they would not export manufactured products. As one American policy maker put it in 1899, they preferred “trade with people who can send you things you ant and cannot produce, and take from you in return things they want and cannot produce; in other words, a trade largely between different zones, and largely with less advanced peoples….” Great powers scrambled to obtain privileged access to these areas through formal or informal imperial control. This zero-sum competition added a political and military component to economic rivalry. Increasing globalization made this dangerous situation worse, not better, in spite of the fact that it also increased the likely cost of a great power war.

In large part because of the international economic institutions constructed after World War II, present day great powers do not face a world in which protectionism and political efforts to secure exclusive market access are the norm. Emerging as well as longstanding powers can now obtain greater benefits from peaceful participation in the international economic system than they could through the predatory foreign policies that were common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They do not need a large military force to secure their place in the sun. Economic competition among the great powers continues, but it is not tied to imperialism and military rivalry in the way it was in 1914.

These international institutional differences are probably more important for continuing great power peace than is the military dominance of the United States. American military supremacy reduces uncertainty about the cost and outcome of a hegemonic war, making such a war less likely. However, as in the 19th Century, higher growth rates in emerging powers strongly suggest that the current American military edge will not last forever. Efforts to sustain it will be self-defeating if they threaten these emerging powers and set off a spiral of military competition. Similarly, major uses of American military power without the support (or at least the consent) of other great powers also risk leading these states to build up their military capabilities in order to limit American freedom of action. The United States will be better served by policies that enhance the benefits that emerging powers like China receive from upholding the status quo.

Although the differences in international institutions give reason for optimism about continuing great power peace, there are no guarantees. These institutions are not immutable. They rest on major power policy makers’ belief that they have more to gain from participation in the present system than they do from alternative foreign policies. Right now, this belief is well founded but it could be undermined if the system ceases to bring material benefits to powers capable of undermining it. If the predatory and imperialistic foreign policies of years leading up to 1914 once again offer real benefits, I suspect that new ideological justifications for them will not be hard to find.



Benjamin O. Fordham is professor of political science at Binghamton University (SUNY). His research on the role of domestic political and economic interests in foreign policy making has been published inInternational Studies QuarterlyInternational Organization, the Journal of Politics, and other journals. He is currently working on a book about the domestic politics of American foreign policy during the 1890-1914 period.

The Hazards of Forecasting

by Jack S. Levy

International relations scholars have known for years that the last six or seven decades have been the longest period of peace between the great powers in the last five centuries of the modern system, and, depending upon whom and what you count, perhaps since the Roman Empire. Extrapolating from these and other indicators, many argue that this long peace is highly likely to persist for many years into the future. Although I am less confident that other forms of warfare will continue to decline during the next two decades, and although I suspect that peoples in many parts of the world might be puzzled by the description of the period as a “long peace,” I basically share the optimism about the low likelihood of a future great power war. My optimism is tempered, however, by the recognition that political forecasting is a hazardous business, a point that I develop in these comments.

It would be instructive to imagine the dialogue on an earlier blog on the decline of war, say 100 years ago, to pick a round number. Bloggers in August 1912 would presumably have talked about some recent books bearing on this question, including Ivan Bloch’s book subtitled Is War Now Impossible?(1899) and Norman Angell’s The Great Illusion (1910). Each argued that a war between the leading industrial powers would be long, economically devastating, and socially disruptive, and consequently not rational. The strong inference was that a future great power war was unlikely because – reflecting the logic of the Global Trends 2030 report (iv) a hundred years later – “too much would be at stake.”

Our bloggers might have gone beyond these theoretical arguments to note existing trends in war and to project those trends into the future. Looking back, they had lived through the most peaceful century on record. Perhaps using words similar to those in Allan Dafoe’s introductory comments on this blog, they may have written that “There are fewer great power wars, fewer wars in Western Europe, fewer years during which a great power war is ongoing, and less redistribution of territory after wars.” A long peace between the European great powers had persisted for over four decades, the longest such period in four centuries. A hegemonic war involving nearly all the great powers had not occurred for nearly a century. But it was not just the frequency of great power war that had been in decline. The median number of battle deaths in wars continued to decline, as did the average duration of great power war. The four great power wars since the Congress of Vienna had each lasted less than a year on average, reflecting a significant decline from the wars of previous centuries. Only one European interstate war had occurred in the last three decades (the Greco-Turkish War of 1897), and it only lasted thirty days. The frequency of civil wars had declined by half over the last four decades.

The bloggers of 1912 may have emphasized that although militarized disputes between the great powers continued to occur – over Morocco in 1905, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, and Agadir in 1911 – each had been resolved peacefully. This increased political leaders’ confidence that they would also be able to peacefully resolve any dispute that might arise in the future. True, some military leaders had advocated a preventive war, but those pleas had been rejected by statesmen like Bismarck. No European great power had incorporated preventive war into its national security strategy or publically used preventive logic to justify military action.

The statesmen of 1912 had other grounds for optimism. A détente continued between Great Britain and Germany, the two leading European powers in the system. That détente was motivated in part by the strong commercial and financial relationships between the two countries. In fact, Europe as a whole benefited from historically unprecedented levels of economic interdependence. This further reinforced the peace, based on the increasingly popular arguments of Norman Angell and others, that wealth was based on credit and commerce, and that territorial conquest was no longer an efficient strategy for increasing wealth.

Thus the bloggers of 1912 had reasonable grounds for forecasting a continuation of the long peace.  In fact, in many respects the quantitative trends pointing in that direction were stronger than those observed by bloggers a century later. Compared to the bloggers of 2012, the bloggers of 1912 could point to a more sustained decline in great power war and a longer period without a destructive hegemonic war.

I believe and certainly hope that the parallels between 1912 and 2012 end there. But the occurrence within two years of the Great War – which resulted in over eight million battle fatalities and which is often described as “the seminal event of the 20th century,” should be a constant reminder of the limitations of both trend-based and theory-based forecasts of the future.



Jack S. Levy is Board of Governors’ Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. He is past president of the International Studies Association and of the Peace Science Society. His most recent books include Causes of War (2010) and The Arc of War: Origins, Escalation, and Transformation (2011), each co-authored with William R. Thompson. He is co-editor (with Leonie Huddy and David O. Sears) of the second edition of the Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology (forthcoming, 2013), and he is organizing an edited volume on the First World War.

The Arc of War

–by William R. Thompson      

Forecasting the level of conflict two decades ahead is not something we political scientists are very good at – in part because we lack appropriate theories and in part because it is hard to tell how the world will look in the future.  The 2030 report appears to use a combination of projecting current trends and relying on some key indicators such as demographics to predict declining or no conflict between great powers, states in general, and within states, subject to some reservations about the possible impact of climate deterioration, resource scarcities, ascending powers, and new weapons.

I would probably make a similar but not identical projection based on different theoretical premises.  My forecast would be based on arguments developed in The Arc of War (University of Chicago Press, 2011), an examination of the evolution of warfare since its initial appearance and co-authored with Jack S. Levy.   Levy and Thompson make six general arguments.  The first one is about the origins of war and need not concern us here.  The other five do appear to be germane.

  1. War co-evolves with other activities, including military and political organization, political economy, threat environment, and weaponry.
  2. Major changes in politico-economic complexity, in particular have led to occasional transformations in warfare.  Yet, the expansion of warfare is not inexorable. An important constraint in the escalation of warfare are its costs which have influenced strongly and negatively the probability of warfare between industrialized states in the contemporary era.
  3. The pace of change/transformations in warfare has significantly accelerated three times – first in the late fourth to early third millennium BCE, then in the last half of the first millennium BCE, and again in the second half of the second millennium CE.
  4. The attempt to centralize regional political-military power is one of the major drivers of periods of acceleration and transformation, especially in the third acceleration, which was concentrated in the Western trajectory.
  5. Much of the world did not experience the third acceleration directly (other than as targets) and remains more agrarian than industrial.  As a consequence, states outside of the western trajectory tend to be weaker, vulnerable to internal warfare, and prone to fight fewer and shorter interstate wars.

Thus, warfare between industrialized major powers should continue to be regarded as too costly and therefore not very likely in the next few decades.  Interstate warfare should also continue to be infrequent mainly because most states lack the resources to engage in it for very long.   But we would expect intrastate warfare to continue more or less at current levels because so many states are vulnerable to coercive challenges at the domestic level.  Since drought and oil/water shortages seem likely and most likely to occur in places that are least able to cope with such problems, anticipating limited interstate warfare may prove to be optimistic.  But the increased problems caused by climate and scarcities may at least tell us which parts of the world are most likely to experience conflict in the near future.


William R. Thompson is Distinguished Professor and Donald A. Rogers Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington.  He also is Managing Editor of International Studies Quarterly. Recent books include Asian Rivalries: Conflict, Escalation, and Limitations on Two-Level GamesHandbook of International Rivalries, 1494-2010, and The Arc of War: Origins, Escalation and Transformation.  Forthcoming next year are How Rivalries End and Transition Scenarios: China and the United States in the Twenty-first Century.

The Global Trends 2030 report depicts three hypothetical future worlds and examines their implications. Roughly put, in one the U.S. turns isolationist and major conflict breaks out in Asia. In another, the U.S. and China build a productive working relationship around which the global economy flourishes. In the third, global institutions falter and major powers become the focus of regional economic blocs, hindering the world economy and technological cooperation.

In each of these scenarios, Brazil is largely a passive player. It inherits a global political, economic, and security environment that derives from other players—particularly China and the United States—and events like an Asian pandemic or international armed conflict in the Middle East. The closest Brazil comes to online casino playing an important role is one mention of a possible future in which Brazilian diplomacy brokers a peace-making agreement between China and the United States (and is rewarded, in return, a seat on the UN Security Council!).

I agree with this view, for two reasons: first, Brazil’s geographic isolation from the world’s key economic and geo-strategic zones; and two, Brazil’s lack of global presence—particularly in security affairs.

The original BRICs countries (I do not include South Africa, because it is included for political reasons, not because it appears destined to become an economic power) share several characteristics, especially market size. Brazil differs from the others, however, in a crucial way. China, India, and Russia are important to other large, influential countries not only because of their size but because they are territorially and economically involved in flash points of instability, countries and/or regions with troubles that affect core interests of powerful countries around the world. South America includes no such flash point. Naturally, this benefits Brazil because it faces relatively little interference from outside powers (the Cold War era being somewhat of an exception, though U.S. and Soviet interference was rather less severe than in East Asia, Afghanistan, or Germany). Brazil also needs not allocate resources and political attention to deter or respond to threats posed by heavily armed, nuclear capable neighbors.

Brazil’s isolation from the world’s critical chokepoints and hot spots is also a disadvantage, because it means Brazil is an important country in terms of economics and perhaps diplomacy, but not in terms of security. For other powers, Brazil is a good partner to have but not an essential one.

Brazil’s position on nuclear weapons reflects this conundrum. Brazil signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1997, a reasonable step considering Brazil faces no apparent threat to its territorial sovereignty that a nuclear weapon could be used against (i.e., no nation-state antagonist to be deterred). Critics of the decision point to India, claiming that India’s refusal to sign on to the NPT was a key reason why the U.S. under President George W. Bush announced its support for a seat online casino for India on the UN Security Council, and in general why countries with far fewer resources and far smaller economies than Brazil’s—e.g., France, the UK, Israel, Pakistan—seem to  receive more respect and generosity from other powers than Brazil. Brazil has established online casino a type of middle path. It has advanced nuclear capabilities which it uses for energy, industry, and military purposes (it aspires to build a nuclear-propulsion submarine over the next decade). It skirts and sometimes ignores online casino its NPT obligations. But it does not go so far as to build or test a weapon, a step that dgfev online casino could not help but destabilize its regional relations.

Another, related, factor that limits Brazil’s global presence and its influence is its lack of capacity and willingness to develop and use military capabilities beyond its   The reps now pitch the Quick Caps to pain specialists and even some primary-care doctors who treat pain. borders. Unlike Asia or Europe, South America is a community of countries with low propensity for international conflict, casino and small militaries. The use of military might beyond a country’s borders is almost unheard of.

Brazil’s attitude is changing, somewhat. Brazil’s armed forces supported the UN’s peacekeeping mission in East Timor in 1999, and have supported and led the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti. In 2011 the Brazilian navy led an UN-authorized multinational casino online maritime force off the coast of Lebanon. Still, casino online when compared to its BRIC rivals, and even against other “middle powers” like the UK, Canada, Australia, and South Korea, Brazil at present and at least for the next ten years (because it takes time to build a sea-going naval capability) has yet to involve itself in coalitions and actions that determine outcomes in faraway but strategically important regions. Brazil’s government shows an interest in building such a capacity, at least in terms of ships, aircraft, and other technologies—areas with obvious economic and industrial spillover effects. But investment lags in the equally difficult processes of military professionalization and modernization, such as the training and utilization of junior enlisted and non-commissioned officers.

One factor that could drive change in Brazil’s security capabilities is the rise of concern, across South America, over border and territorial control. The regional surge in drug trafficking—to major consumption markets within Brazil, in the U.S., and in Europe—has led to recognition that illegal armed groups regularly cross borders and operate in territories across There’s a promotion for everyone Luckily, once weekly horoscope scorpio catch their breath, they will return to their usual determined and loyal (albeit strong-willed) ways. here at Ladbrokes Casino!If you’re new to Ladbrokes Casino, make sure that you check out our latest welcome no deposit bonus mobile es and promotions. the region. As long as this problem persists, there will be demand for more capable, mobile, and outwardly disposed security forces.

In the coming decades Brazil can certainly continue to gain international influence as an economic power, and a diplomatic actor, regardless of its involvement in security matters. But the more widely Brazilian people, companies, goods, and investments spread around the world, the more Brazilian leadership will perceive the benefits of having the capability to protect and serve them and the interests they create.

Despite these complications (and leaving aside Brazil’s medium-term reliance on China’s economy), Brazil is well-positioned to continue to rise as an important player on the global stage. The first blog discussed the long-term, positive prospects for Brazil of becoming an important exporter of both food and energy—an enviable position. From the point of view of resource abundance, especially when intensifying effects from global warming are considered, Brazil/Southern Cone stands with the United States/Canada, and Russia, as the regions best-equipped to serve as global providers of natural resources.

Brazil’s isolation from global hot spots is also advantageous, because Brazil is relatively protected from crises and armed conflict that could erupt in East or South Asia, or the Middle East, and engulf other powers with longstanding equities in those regions. Among the most provocative sentences I found in the GT2030 report is one that asserts that Brazil would benefit from major geopolitical tensions and a worldwide pandemic. As other powers succumb to economic crises and conflict, perhaps including de-industrialization as occurred in Europe and Japan after the last major war, they and the rest of the world may turn increasingly to the less-affected industries of Brazil and South America for their requirements. From a purely nationalistic viewpoint, one that imagines Brazil as competing with other countries for wealth and influence, this scenario of global turmoil and crisis offers Brazil its best chance for maximum advantage. Could it be that this type of long-term strategic thinking underlies Brasilia’s flirtation with rogue regimes like those of Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinejad?

Good fodder for speculation, but between today and 2030 what Brazilian leadership should focus on is strengthening various internal institutions and policies that underpin a democracy’s strength and vitality, including the judiciary, the education system, the defense ministry and the armed forces. For a country as large and rich in resources as Brazil, more efficient and reliable domestic institutions would go far to ensure its greatness. Foreign policy will come along.

– Ralph Espach, director of the Latin American Affairs Program at CNA

Brazil as a World Power Beyond 2030: Geographic, economic, and military dimensions