By: Robert Walker
San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Given the challenges posed by climate change, population growth and the world’s rising demand for food, water and energy, what types of problems or crises will policymakers confront 20 years from now? Here are a few possible scenarios that have experts worried:
The setting: South Asia
The players: Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines
The assumptions: Typhoons and rising seas disrupt rice production.
What has happened: Vietnam suspends rice exports, as severe rice shortages spur major food riots in Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia.
The setting: Middle East
The players: Yemen, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Syria
The assumptions: Population growth and drought lead to severe water shortages.
What has happened: Governments in Yemen and Egypt are collapsing, while conflict over water looms between Israel, Jordan and Syria.
The setting: sub-Saharan Africa
The players: Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea
The assumptions: Regional drought and a world grain shortage trigger hunger crisis.
What has happened: A humanitarian crisis develops as governments collapse and starvation threatens up to 50 million in the region.
The setting: India
The players: The Indian government, Maoist rebels, refugees from Bangladesh
The assumption: Climate change and aquifer depletion spur India crop failure; rising seas threaten Bangladesh.
What has happened: A major Maoist-led insurrection and a growing humanitarian crisis destabilize India, now the world’s most populous nation.
The setting: The major powers
The players: U.S. and China
The assumption: Political relations are strained by climate change, food crisis, energy shortage.
What has happened: After a poor harvest, U.S. limits grain exports to China and elsewhere; China retaliates, dumping dollars, precipitating a global financial crisis.
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