(NaturalNews) Climate change coupled with a dwindling supply of natural resources is likely to trigger major conflicts in the near future, U.S. intelligence agencies are warning.
"Demand for food, water, and energy will grow by approximately 35, 40 and 50 per cent respectively, owing to an increase in the global population and the consumption patterns of an expanding middle class," says a new report released by the Office of National Director of Intelligence titled, Global Trends 2030, which was made available online at the agency's website. "Climate change will worsen the outlook for the availability of these critical resources."
The new major report, which was prepared by the National Intelligence Council, forecasts security trends over the next 10-20 years, and how they will shape international relations. Officials noted in particular that climate change has the potential to ignite regional instabilities and stoke international tensions; the ODNI report is the latest in a series of studies by national security entities around the world that predict climate change will tighten competition for available food, water and natural resources.
The demand for resources began years ago
The council says scarcities in resources can be avoided, but only if steps are taken by a number of industries and economies in a coordinated manner to improve productivity and efficiency.
"We are not necessarily headed into a world of scarcities, but policymakers and their private sector partners will need to be proactive to avoid such a future," the report says. "Many countries probably won't have the wherewithal to avoid food and water shortages without massive help from outside."
In fact, that is already happening.
"After decades in the doldrums, food prices have been soaring this year, causing more misery for the world's poor than any credit crunch. The geopolitical shock waves have spread round the world, with food riots in Haiti, strikes over rice shortages in Bangladesh, tortilla wars in Mexico, and protests over bread prices in Egypt," Fred Pearce, a UK-based journalist, for Yale University'senvironment360 journal in 2008.
Droughts, combined with increasing demand, have only made the problem worse since.
The council says in order to reverse the trend nations will have to rely on technological breakthroughs.
"Key technologies likely to be at the forefront of maintaining [energy, food and water] resources in the next 15-20 years will include genetically modified crops, precision agriculture, water irrigation techniques, solar energy, advanced bio-based fuels, and enhanced oil and natural gas extraction via fracturing," the report says.
'Dramatic and unforeseen changes are already occurring'
"Given the vulnerabilities of developing economies to key resource supplies and prices and the early impacts of climate change, key developing countries may realize substantial rewards in commercializing many next-generation resource technologies first," it continued. "Aside from being cost competitive, any expansion or adoption of both existing and next-generation resource technologies over the next 20 years will largely depend on social acceptance and the direction and resolution of any ensuing political issues."
Besides resource security, analysts say they are also concerned that climate change is likely to lead to increased migration - particularly in Africa and Asia in the 2020s - which is also likely to further exacerbate pre-existing regional tensions.
"Dramatic and unforeseen changes are already occurring at a faster rate than expected," the report warns. "Most scientists are not confident of being able to predict such events. Rapid changes in precipitation patterns - such as monsoons in India and the rest of Asia - could sharply disrupt that region's ability to feed its population."
The ODNI report also predicts that the era of unipolar U.S. hegemony is drawing to a close, but that America will remain "first among equals."