Nevertheless, the report says that with the rapid rise of other countries, the "unipolar moment" is over and no country -- whether the U.S., China, or any other country -- "will be a hegemonic power." In terms of the indices of overall power -- GDP, population size, military spending and technological investment -- Asia will surpass North America and Europe combined.
The empowerment of individuals, the diffusion of power among states, and from states to informal networks, will have a dramatic impact bringing a growing democratization, at both the international and domestic level. Additionally, it is reported that two other "megatrends" will shape the world out to 2030: Demographic patterns especially rapid aging and growing demands on resources such as food and water, which might lead to scarcities. These trends, which exist today, are projected to gain momentum over the coming 15-20 years.
The report identifies six "tectonic shifts" -- critical changes to key features of the global environment -- underpinning the megatrends that will affect how the world works. One positive "shift" sees energy independence for the U.S. in as short a period as 10 to 20 years due to abundant quantities of shale gas. This is the second report in recent weeks to discuss U.S. energy independence [See WIMS 11/13/12]. On November 12, the International Energy Agency (IEA) launched the 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO) and sais the global energy map is changing in dramatic fashion. That Agency's flagship publication, released in London, said the extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean "a sea-change in global energy flows." WEO's central scenario, the United States could become a net exporter of natural gas by 2020, and "almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035."
Following the precedent in earlier editions of Global Trends, the current edition sketches out future models for the world out to 2030: "Stalled Engines," "Fusion," "Gini Out-of-the-Bottle," and "Nonstate World." As with previous editions, none of these alternative worlds are inevitable and in reality, the future will probably consist of elements from all the scenarios.
The NIC publishes a new edition of Global Trends every four years, in a presidential election year, to assist the next -- in this case the returning -- administration in its strategic review. This is the fifth edition of Global Trends beginning with "Global Trends 2010." As with previous reports, it does not seek to predict the future, but instead provides a framework for thinking about possible futures -- assessing key trends and their implications.
Global Trends 2030 has been the largest collaborative effort of all the editions relying on a diversity of perspectives to enrich the work. The NIC held many meetings with government officials, businesses, universities and think tanks and reached out to experts in 20 countries. One benefit has been growing interest elsewhere in global trends: Several governments and organizations now prepare similar reports, helping to inform the NIC's work.