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2030: The "Perfect Storm" Scenario

June 30, 2010

The Population Institute today offers a cautionary glimpse into the future with the publication of 2030: The “Perfect Storm” Scenario.  Designed for use in the classroom, as well as for use by policymakers, experts, and academicians, the scenario raises important questions about the implications of global inaction on population, climate, food, energy, and water.  

John Beddington, England’s chief scientific advisor, last year delivered a major speech in which he warned that the world could be facing a “perfect storm” by the year 2030, unless more is done to address the challenges posed by climate change, population growth, and the rising demand for food, energy, and water.  The scenario being released today by the Population Institute takes a closer look at what kinds of damage could be inflicted by Beddington’s “perfect storm.”

Robert J. Walker, Executive Vice President, emphasized that the scenario is “neither a worst case, nor a best case scenario. It’s just a look at what might happen if we don’t change course.” 

The scenario contains a brief discussion guide designed for use in conferences and classrooms.  “Everyone should be talking about the challenges outlined in this scenario,” Walker said. “It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see that a catastrophe could develop if we don’t get more serious about climate change, population growth, and the growing demand for scarce resources. It’s like watching a train-wreck in very slow motion.”

The scenario is accompanied by a Scenario Planning Guide that offers two scenario planning exercises, similar to those used by government and businesses in planning to meet future contingencies. Using the scenario as a baseline for discussion, the first exercise looks at the challenges that could be faced by world leaders in 2030; the second explores the implications for six developing countries:  Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Uganda, and Yemen.  Both exercises are designed to dramatize the importance of acting now to meet the challenges that lie ahead.  Walker said, “Our growing demand for resources is quickly outstripping the Earth’s capacity to provide. Unless we act soon, human aspirations will soon collide with resource limitations.”

Perfect Storm Cover

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