Tipping Points--The World in 2050--This project was first designed to project to 2050 the potential impact of three tipping points/breaking points --climate change, the Chinese "belt and road" initiative and the America First policy of US President Donald Trump. The Covid-19 pandemic intervened and the scope of the project has been expanded to include the potential long term impacts of the pandemic as well. These changes will be presented in the context of long term population and economic projections published by the UN Population Division, OECD, the World Bank and other international organizations. One of the main topics to be examined is the expected increase in economic importance of China and the parallel relative decline of the United States.
This introduction will give a brief example of one of the lines of research, including graphics, and will then provide brief introductions to some of the areas to be further examined. The four main topics will be briefly explained.
Covid-19--The advent of Covid-19 was unexpected and the management of the epidemic has varied greatly from country to country. The impact of the pandemic has often been to speed up changes already predicted, for example to advance the date at which China is expected to replace the USA as the country with highest GDP and particularly in the industrialized countries, to increase dramatically the number of people working from home. These are only two examples. There are many others which will be examined in the final project.
One change which has been significant has been the impact of the Covid pandemic on on long-term seniors residences mainly in industrialized countries. The pandemic has devastated long term senior care residences in North America, and many European countries--many have become epidemic hot spots with disastrously high infection rates among both patients and staffs. It was clear earlier that there were underlying problems with many of these homes, but the epidemic has put a tragic emphasis on the problems. It is clear that reforms are required, but the long term population prospects for these countries show significant increases in the old age dependency ratio (proportion of the population over age 65 compared to the population size of the 20 to 64 age group), which will mean that needed upgrades will have to take place in the face of rapidly growing demand for long-term care services .The chart opposite shows the rate of growth by continent in old age dependency between 2020 and 2050 projected by the UN Population Division .
Other aspects of the impact of Covid-19 will have to be studied, including potential changes in work habits --working at home or working in an office. Changes in education systems, increased need for disaster planning. Changes in the structure of retail, food service, grocery and other business sectors, changes in the agricultural sector. At the time of writing . The specific topics are going to vary from continent to continent and from country to country. For many of these discussions discussions population will be a key consideration . The two maps below showing old age dependency rates between 2020 and 2050 and indicate that Canada, the USA, most of Europe, China, Japan and South Korea stand out as countries which will face serious issues with the welfare of seniors during the next 30 years.
It is not feasible to provide graphics and models in this outline for all the areas of concern, but these will be considered in detail in the study.
Climate Change-- On January 31, 2021 The New York Times (page 2) published a map under the headline "Our World in 20 Years". The map showed "The Top Climate Risks Across the Globe by 2040" for six potential risks--flooding, heat stress, water stress, Wildfires, hurricanes and typhoons, and sea level rise. There were very few spaces left uncolored on the map--what uncolored spaces there were , were mainly far from the sea and sparsely populated. News services almost daily are reporting on disasters--wild fires, tornadoes or typhoons, drought and flooding. It is not so much that these climate events are uncommon but rather the dramatic increase in frequency and intensity of these events that are causing major impacts of climate change.
This study will use climate data and projections from a number of sources to identify potential changes in agriculture, forestry, and overall living and working conditions to identify areas which may face severe changes in population or economic activity due to the likely influence of climate change. These climate changes are also expected to result in sometimes shifts of population both in and between countries and in some cases the destruction of small island countries.
America First-- US President Donald Trump's campaign slogans were Make America Great Again and America First. His regime saw America looking inward even more than in the past. "American exceptionalism" ran rampant during the four years of his tenure. In economic terms, Mr. Trump was a mercantilist --promoting an economic policy based on increasing American wealth by promoting exports and minimizing imports. Through his America First policy he slapped tariffs on traditional partners, broke treaties, pulled out of international organizations--all on a whim. His tendency to become embroiled in conspiracy theories and his failure to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic put the final touches on the decline of respect and influence for the US throughout much of the world.
The new US president, Joe Biden, is far more experienced and more approachable than Mr. Trump. He is working to brush up the US image--rejoining treaties and working with his traditional allies. Mr. Biden is also unlikely to become embroiled in conspiracy theories.However, with almost half of the US population still in the Trump camp, Mr. Biden is also an American Firster. While America should be a far more pleasant country for it's allies to deal with during the next four years, it is going to be an exceedingly difficult trading partner.
China--Belt and Road-- Even prior to the presidency of Donald Trump, economists and international organizations were forecasting the China would in the foreseeable future replace the United States as the largest economy in the world. In its December 26, 2020 issue the British newspaper the Guardian reported that The Centre for Economics and Business Research expected that China would overtake the US as the world's largest economy by 2028 due to China's better than expected growth during the Covid pandemic and the US's poor economic performance during the same period.
updating a web site at http://www.sustainableworld.com to provide links
to data used in this project as well as providing training or links to
training for the data management activities involved.