Future Superpowers – The World To 2100

future-superpowersMost projections of future trends in national power fail to appreciate the importance of three crucial factors: (1) the declining EROEI of energy resources (including, but not limited to, “peak oil”); (2) the importance of human capital to economic growth, especially in developing countries’ attempts to “catch up” to the advanced world; and (3) the impacts of climate change, which are projected to be more and more catastrophic with every passing year. Disregarding these trends produces predictions such as George Friedman’s (STRATFOR) argument that Mexico – a low human capital country experiencing plummeting oil production and growing water stress – will become a superpower by 2100.

Using my current estimates of Comprehensive National Power as a base (an index of power that attempts to express a nation’s economic, military, and cultural power in a single number), I will specially stress the above factors in my analysis of future global power trends. Some results will look plausible and familiar (e.g. China overtaking the US as a superpower by the 2020’s); others will appear utterly bizarre (e.g. Canada becoming a major Great Power in by the end of the century, while India and Brazil plummet back into obscurity). But they are nonetheless all plausible and even likely outcomes, derived from bringing together worlds that all too often are considered independently of each other: the economy; human capital; geopolitics; energetics; and climate change.

There may of course be unexpected discontinuities – popularized as Black Swans by Nassim Taleb – that unravel these projections (the probability of their happening increasing exponentially over time). This will be covered in greater depth below. In the meantime, bear this caveat in mind as you read the rest of the post.

comprehensive-national-power

[Graph shows CNP of the greatest Powers 1980-2100; the "superpower" is always at 100 and all other Great Powers are shown relative to it. Click to enlarge.]

Phase 1: The End of Pax Americana (1980-2025)

The US is the current superpower, but China is rapidly making up ground. Its real GDP is now at $10 trillion, though according to some estimates it has already overtaken the $14.5 trillion American economy.

Some critics claim that nominal GDP is a better measure of power, even using these figures to claim that even at 10% growth it will be decades before China surpasses the US. This is a product of economic illiteracy, because it doesn’t take into account the convergence of Chinese price levels to those of developed countries (its nominal GDP has been expanding at more than 20% in the last 5 years).

There are a number of other factors that are often quoted to predict the doom of China’s rise, such as: (1) Growing regional disparities; (2) Income inequality; (3) Environmental degradation; (4) Bad loans and financial collapse, aka Japan; (5) Aging population; (6) Excessive export dependency; (7) Social unrest; (8) Authoritarian nature of its Marxist-Leninist political model.

Suffice to say that they are either common to most industrializing countries (1-3, 7); will only seriously affect it by the time its already developed (4-5); are overestimated (4, 6); or it is unclear why they should derail its economic ascent for long even if they lead to a democratizing revolution (7-8). I address all these points in detail here.

In any case, most of these are factors have yet to be realized, whereas many of the same trends undermining US power are already in evidence. You can point out the accumulating weight of China’s bad loans, but it is the Western financial system that had to be bailed out in 2008 at social expense; you can argue that the aging of China’s population will bankrupt its (minimal) social net, but it is the US that is facing a budget deficit of >10% of GDP and a national debt soaring into the stratosphere.

China is already the world’s largest manufacturing power. On current trends, it is due to overtake the US economy by the mid-2010’s (followed in nominal terms sometime in the 2020’s, as restrictions on the yuan are lifted and it appreciates). Since China produces its own military hardware, real GDP is what matters; consequently, it will take less relative effort for the PLA to match and overtake the US (especially in the crucial East Asian region and the Indian Ocean). As Paul Kennedy noted in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (of which, incidentally, the Chinese are great fans) military and political power follows naturally in the wake of economic power, whereas trying to achieve results from the opposite directions leads to the “imperial overstretch” that contributed to Soviet collapse and is now undermining American power.

Which brings us to the last point. China’s population is four times bigger than America’s, and human capital among the youngest generations is now as good as the US average. This makes its per capita convergence – and consequently, its ascent to economic primacy – almost inevitable.

But rather than assessing the situation dispassionately and preparing for a strategic retreat, the US is digging in all fronts: foreign wars, deficit spending, oil dependence, political gridlock, etc. This increases the probability that US decline will take the form of a sudden collapse, as of Argentina’s in 1999-2002, instead of fading away like the British Empire after 1945.

Phase 2: The Return of the Middle Kingdom (2020-2075)

The cultural decline will be slower. It took Latin more than a millennium after the collapse of the Roman Empire to lose its status as a lingua franca. Needless to say, the US will still retain a great deal of power by virtue of its large population and developed economy, it will remain in second place, almost no matter what, well into the 21st century. Furthermore, it will retain its deep ties – economic, cultural, etc. – with the Anglo-Saxon world (the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and, to a lesser extent, Europe. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and the Ivy League will remain staples of global culture and technology.

However, there’s only so much power you can exercise through the English language, Google, or even Chuck Norris. For everything else there’s China – after a two hundred year break (a mere blip in its millennial history), the Middle Kingdom will have returned to its rightful place at the center of the world.

China is now roughly where South Korea was in 1990. A similar growth profile will by 2030 leave its economic power equal to 25 of today’s Koreas. Imagine that!

It’s unclear what political system China will have by then. Democratization on the Taiwanese model is not inevitable. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has studied the Soviet collapse in rigorous detail and is determined not to repeat its liberalizing mistakes. What I consider at least equally likely is an emergence of a “consultative Leninism”, in which the current NEPist model is opened up to democratic elements (e.g. competitive local elections; policy-making based on opinion polling) but under the continuing hegemony of the CCP. This could be China’s own, sovereign road to democracy.

Other possibilities are also possible, e.g. a Singaporean authoritarianism, or “managed democracy” in the style of Putin’s Russia. But short of a reversion to Maoism – which is exceedingly unlikely, given that China now has a commercial class that would strongly oppose it – it’s unclear how the widespread mantra that political change must be accompanied by a cessation of economic growth can be justified.

China’s rise will be accompanied by the flock of BRIC’s trailing in its wake: Brazil, Russia, and India. The first two will enjoy a massive resource windfall from selling their plentiful energy, mineral, and water (in the form of food) reserves to a world made increasingly ravenous by depletion elsewhere and the effects of an increasingly destructive and chaotic climate. Russia will remain a first-class Great Power, and India will join its ranks; Brazil will be the most prominent of the second-class powers, which will also include France, Canada, Germany, Japan, the UK, Turkey, and Korea.

As with China, there are many reasons cited to explain for why Russia will fail to achieve its promise, such as (1) demographic decline; (2) corruption; (3) resource-based economy; (4) crumbling infrastructure; (5) authoritarianism. All these factors are either exaggerated (1-5), typical of most middle-income countries (2, 4), or it is unclear why they are necessarily negatives at all (3, 5). But it also has great strengths. Russia combines the BRIC’s fiscal sturdiness and economic dynamism (both lacking in the West) with a GDP per capita that is almost twice that of the next richest BRIC, Brazil. Its human capital is on a par with the developed world’s, allowing for an easy convergence. Crucially, Russia is perfectly positioned for the coming age of “scarcity industrialism”, in which food, energy, and energy prices soar and global warming opens up vast regions of the country, including the Arctic, to shipping, energy production, agriculture, and habitation. Even at current growth rates of 4% per year, Russia should converge to European income levels by 2020-25 and spend the next few decades comfortably, its energy riches shielded by its nuclear umbrella.

Obviously Russia lacks the population mass, at least at this stage, to become a true superpower (even if it absorbs the other post-Soviet nations into a Eurasian union). This is not the case for India, which will overtake China to become the world’s most populous nation by 2025. But within that fast-growing population illiteracy is still rife and 47% of children remain malnourished. Though it suffers from many the usual ailments of low-income countries – creaky infrastructure, caste-based inequalities, sluggish courts and bureaucracy, etc. – it’s India’s low level of human capital that is the primary cause of its falling so far behind China (manufacturing output is an order of magnitude lower, and the poorest Chinese provinces are equal to the Indian average). Nonetheless, India has the coal to power itself, and temperatures will remain within acceptable bounds for producing stagnant grain harvests for at least the next few decades. And quantity counts. That is why India will become a first-rank Great Power, equaling Russia and approaching the US.

With its ample lands and resources (e.g. iron, oil), not to mention its successes with sugar cane-derived ethanol, Brazil is set to enjoy – much like Russia – a comfortable existence as a regional hegemon in a world of high prices for food, energy and minerals. Its military strength is paltry, but irrelevant given its distance from other Great Powers. It is also the least corrupt of the BRIC’s. However, its prospects for true superpowerdom are constrained by relatively low human capital; as its economy wasn’t distorted by a legacy of socialist mismanagement (as with China or Russia), its GDP per capita is already, more or less, “where it should be.” In the background, Canada will be getting very rich off supplying fuels and water to an increasingly parched and energy-starved US. However, for the time being its profile will remain modest.

The European Union is conspicuous by its absence. Europe is no longer united by the memory of war and the Soviet threat, and each country concerned above all for its own national interests. This is not a stable foundation for a union, and as such it will likely retreat into something like a glorified free trade area by the 2020’s. Real power will be concentrated among the big European Powers, which will carve out spheres of influence and compete with each other for neo-colonial influence: e.g. France (Maghreb); Germany (East-Central Europe); Turkey (Balkans, Azerbaijan, Arab world); the Scandinavian bloc; the Visegrad bloc. Arguably there is already evidence of this in the Anglo-French effort to oust Qaddafi. Read more here.

No European Power will have the mass to become a first-rank Great Power, though it may be (marginally) possible for France and definitely possible for coalitions of European Powers. By themselves, all the European nations will be lingering near the bottom of the CNP scale.

There is no point discussing any other country or alliance. NATO is becoming more irrelevant with each passing year. Japan is technologically advanced, but reliant on the US for its security and dependent on the same oceanic supply routes as China; as soon as the latter becomes the new regional hegemon, Japan’s effective sovereignty is history. Indonesia is similar India, but five times smaller. South Africa, Mexico, Australia, Nigeria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are all some combination of (1) too underpopulated, (2) too underdeveloped, and (3) too vulnerable to climate change.

Phase 3: Towards a Russian Century? (2075-?)

Beyond 2050 we are getting into very foggy territory. Just think of an educated European observing the world one century ago, in 1911 – could he have predicted Germany’s utter collapse and occupation, and the rise of Russia (now known as the USSR) as a superpower along with the (vastly stronger) US superpower? And could that observer in 1951 have predicted that a China only recently consolidated under Communist control, after a century of stagnation, invasions and warlordism, would just fifty years later have overtaken a Russia that had become a basketcase?

Any number of black swans may have intervened by 2050, steering any projections wildly of course. Here are a few examples:

  • China and the US cooperate to build a massive global geoengineering project in the 2040’s that succeeds at checking global warming. This removes the conditions for Russia’s rise to a dominant position.
  • Facing desiccation in the West and flooding in the South, the US annexes Canada. As a result, it becomes the greatest Power in the world.
  • There is a total war between nuclear Powers, perhaps triggered by a Chinese land grab for the Russian Far East. Whoever “wins” (if that’s the right term), well, wins.
  • The development of nuclear fusion, space-based solar power, or some other technology, that reverses the secular trend towards declining EROEI. This massively undercuts the power of major resource exporters, such as Russia, Canada, and Brazil.
  • A transition to sustainable development. With global CO2 emissions setting a new record in 2010 (just one year after the deepest global recession in the past half-century), and setting the 2C warming target practically out of reach, there is little hope of that without geoengineering (after 2C the process is expected to display a runaway dynamic due to positive feedback loops). But miracles happen, sometimes.
  • A technological singularity. Perhaps this catapults the nation where it first appears into a dominant leadership position, much like Britain during the industrial revolution; or maybe it is so transnational and transformative in its scope that it makes the very idea of nations and national power obsolete. By definition, a technological singularity is beyond the “event horizon” of our limited imaginations, so there’s little more I can say on this.

For the purposes of completing the scenario to 2100, I will assume that the above don’t occur. Instead, the dominant forces in previous decades – economic convergence; declining EROEI and minerals accessibility; accelerating climate change – remain constants.

By the second half the century, climate change will start to dominate over everything else. The latest projections tend to lean towards the high end of the IPCC’s 1-6C warming range for the next century (the scariest of them show that by 2300 most of the world outside the Arctic may become downright lethal during summer). Warming of 4C is the point at which agriculture starts to not only experience difficulties but outright collapse throughout most of the equator and mid-latitudes.

[Map of global drought under aggregated runs of IPCC's models. Most of the US, southern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America will be in an unprecedented mega-drought. Read more here.]

All the problems currently experienced by China and India with stagnant grain harvests will increase further, requiring very costly counter-measures. Now this is not to say that there will necessarily be mass famine and “dieoff”, as doomers like to predict. It is certainly a possibility, especially under the most severe warming scenarios, but growing food production in Russia, Canada, and even East Africa may make up the difference. In particular, China should be relatively safe, because by then it should be a developed country.

On the other hand, the Chinese state will have its hands full mitigating disaster after climate disaster. The spate of rebuilding after the flooding of New Orleans, which actually boosted US GDP, was one thing; when commercial metropolises like Shanghai are getting flooded and coastal property prices devaluing to nothing, it is economic and financial apocalypse.

What’s possible, then, is the following scenario. By the 2070’s, the Chinese state becomes so preoccupied with maintaining food stability, and the energy and mineral flows that enable industrial society in general, that the surplus resources and administrative capacity to do anything else diminish. This is not a new development in its history. For much of the 19th century, Qing China was the world’s biggest economy by GDP, even though Britain was becoming far more industrialized. This was because China was at its Malthusian limits; the population level was stable, but it was always on the edge of famine, and presided over by a government made weak by lack of taxable surpluses and unable to check the corruption and independence of its own public officials. The state was unable to defend itself, to modernize the country, or to guarantee its independence.

India is in a worse bind, and not just because it will likely remain less developed than China to that time. The Chinese, at least, have the reserve option of migrating some of their surplus population to Tibet (or East Africa, if they conquer it). India doesn’t have that, and faces the unwelcome prospect of a further flood of excess population – this time from a collapsing Pakistan (the Indus to run dry by late century, as Himalayan glaciers melt) and inundating Bangladesh.

A consequence is that states with far smaller populations and economies, but greater surplus resources – will emerge as new Great Powers. Primarily, this means Russia, but Canada would also be in this category, as will Scandinavia, Alaska, and (in one or two more centuries) whoever settles or controls Greenland. By virtue of their control over most of the world’s remaining critical resources – water (not only for food, but electricity); gas; coal; metals; whatever’s left of oil – they will wield unprecedented strategic power over the countries to the south.

Perhaps a colonial relationship will develop, in which the Arctic nations send resources and allow southern workers to farm their lands in exchange for selling off their industrial assets and eventually ceding political sovereignty. In the very long term, this will logically lead to the development of caste-based societies in Russia and Canada, as the sheer magnitude of climate refugees would mean that in any integration policy, it would be the indigenous inhabitants who would have to do most of the integrating (and hence politically impracticable).

By the end of the century – a world of two Arctic superpowers, Russia and Canada?

Comments

  1. Scowspi says:

    It’s funny that you feel bold enough to draw lines extending as far as 2100, when I can’t even predict what will happen tomorrow.

    Here’s a random thought: maybe things won’t change that much after all. With all the seismic changes that took place in the 20th century, the countries at the top of the heap in 2000 weren’t that different from in 1900. Yeah, there were some major power shifts relative to each other, but in 1900 the power poles were in the USA, W. Europe, Russia, and Japan; and in 2000 they were in the USA, W. Europe, Russia (barely, but recovering) and E. Asia (i.e. Japan + China). Not THAT much different. I would bet on some variant of this arrangement for the foreseeable.

    By the way, Richard Nixon in his blunt fashion once told an aide that the only places that really mattered were “Japan and China, Europe and Russia.”

    • That’s kinda like the difference between predicting the weather next week and climate a century hence. The former is far harder.

      • Unbeliever says:

        The former isn’t harder, but errors in predicting the weather become evident much sooner, so it’s harder to establish yourself as a “weather prophet” when you can be proven wrong and laughed at three days later.

        It’s much safer to predict things that are years and years away. Who’s gonna prove you wrong or even remember your predictions 50 years later?

        Nevertheless, great article, even if purely for entertainment value.

  2. Doug M. says:

    Actually, the rise of the US to Greatest Power status (“superpower” wasn’t part of the vocabulary yet”) was very much part of the discourse in the early 20th century.

    Anyway. Your predictions are at least slightly more grounded in reality than Friedmans, which are basically the pure products of his personal prejudices and fears. (He’s from Texas. Europeans are decadent and wimpy, black people don’t exist, MEXICO SO SCARY.) That said, Superpower Canada is pretty giggle-worthy.

    I should dig up the old Semper Fi future we did on alt.history.future back in the early 2000s.

    Doug M.

  3. georgesdelatour says:

    As always, thank you for a very interesting, thoughtful analysis.

    A lot depends on how the existing great powers react to the rise of China. We’ll probably be smug & patronising, insisting that, even if China makes stuff better & cheaper than we do, we’re still culturally superior. But if we experience a real cultural shock – as Japan did from Commodore Perry – there might be a kind of political reset, in which difficult but necessary changes are made more quickly.

    Do you think China will actively seek a military/naval show-down with the USA? Something along the lines of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, but even shorter in duration? Taiwan could be the causes belli. The point would be to show other Asian countries that the US Navy has lost dominance in the East & South China Seas, & ultimately to push them back all the way to Hawaii…

    • I don’t think they’ll “actively” seek a showdown; not least because at least for now (if not 2020) it is unclear who would come off the better. Besides, business relations with Taiwan are good, and its useful as a receptor for advanced Western technologies whose export to the PRC itself is prohibited.

      I don’t really have a good idea on this. One thing to note is that military power is fleeting and deeply reliant on a healthy economy; five years after the Soviet collapse, most of the Navy was rusting at piers. If the US experiences something like a Greece or Argentina scenario – not implausibly, as its indicators of fiscal health are about as bad as those of the averaged PIGS – by the time it recovers and politicians start to look outwards again, much of its current military might may have become depreciated. In particular, the CVBG’s that are its foremost tools of power projection.

    • The South China Sea is a more likely hotspot. Has also the advantage that loosing isn’t bad and there isn’t that much there that can be destroyed so the cost will only be military

  4. Chrisius Dossius Optimus Maximus says:

    FWIW Hegel back in the early 1800s predicted that the future belonged to the United States and Russia.

    • georgesdelatour says:

      Interesting. I’ve read somewhere that Richard Cobden made the same prediction around 1850.

    • And De Tocqueville, in 1831. It was remarkably far-sighted and counter-consensus of all of them.

      Obviously no relevance to whether my predictions will work out, but the same may be said of them if the idea of Russia and (esp!) Canada as dominant Arctic superpowers pans out by 2100 – assuming anyone remembers this post, of course. ;)

    • They where the two biggest countries populated by Westerners. Not really surprising that they came out on top.

  5. Are you talking about Scandinavia as a unified entity or individual countries in co-operation in the third last paragraph?

    • In a world bursting at the seams with climate refugees, and facing an uncertain security climate, there will be a common interest in combining Norway’s energy riches with Swedish, Finnish, and Danish population, manufacturing capacity, and military power. I do envision them forming a federation of some sort; in that case, it will be a formidable Great Power by 2100 (though nowhere near as powerful as Russia or Canada).

      But even if individual countries, they will become far more influential. Crucially, unlike the southern giants like China or India that may be approaching the edges of subsistence – but like other Arctic regions – they will enjoy big surpluses of most goodies and this will make them powerful in disproportion to their populations.

      • Petri Hekkala says:

        Norway will not voluntarily share it’s oil with either EU or other Scandinavian countries. They will join EU or Scandinavian union only if they run out of oil (their production is already on bad decline) or they cannot defend their oil against third party threat.

  6. donnyess says:

    “China and the US cooperate to build a massive global geoengineering”
    “The development of nuclear fusion, space-based solar power”

    If the US and NATO could see this in the near term would they be attacking Iraq, Libya, or dealing with Yukos?

    “Facing desiccation in the West and flooding in the South, the US annexes Canada. As a result, it becomes the greatest Power in the world.”

    Yes, NAU after NAFTA is likely and no it won’t make any difference.

    “There is a total war between nuclear Powers, perhaps triggered by a Chinese land grab for the Russian Far East.”

    The Kuril Islands dispute is already here now. If global warming is real, the Pacific Rim and Siberia could see some pretty freaky weather. Kiss Japan good-bye anyway.

  7. You are missing a big looming problem in agriculture: depletion of aquifers. This is true in India and in the USA and it is not a side note. The US will have serious water shortages by 2030 as the Ogallala aquifer disappears. That is why there is talk of building pipelines to Canada to tap Canada’s supposedly infinite supply.

    In India, 70% of irrigation water comes from aquifers and they are dropping fast (over 30 feet per year in some places). By 2050 the world will be up the creek without a paddle when it comes to agriculture. Since we are now at less than 2 months of world grain reserves I expect real shortages and famines to hit long before 2050. The current wave of unrest in the middle east (e.g. Egypt) is driven to a large extent by food prices. While westerners can absorb grains going up by 100% in price, people elsewhere are not so lucky. If we truly have global distribution of grains by price then that ensures famines as the people without money will not be able to secure any supply that they cannot produce themselves. So shortages in the west may take much longer to appear.

    If China plans to import its food in the future as it paves over its farm land (in the usual idiotic development style you find in Canada and the USA) then it is making a losing bet. Geo-engineering is basically terraforming and the scales are too vast do deal with. The optimistic estimate for the SO2 cooling scheme is 10 million tons injected per year. This *has* to be done around 30 km in the tropics. So some sort of massive balloon effort as I don’t see cannon shells as being efficient in terms of weight (the gases released from all the detonations will hardly help and will just add to the problem). But if you look back at the Pinatubo event on which the 10 million tons of SO2 estimate is based then the global temperature impact was insignificant. To offset 4-6 C of heat you need much larger emissions. Going by the impacts of Tambora, well over 100 million tons of SO2 is needed per year. Since we have no way of ensuring uniform distribution there is another multiplier that needs to applied to the total amount.

    The SO2 released into the stratosphere will facilitate ozone destruction via formation of H2SO4 which grows rapidly into sulfate aerosols and provides a large surface area for heterogeneous reactions. The intelligent thing to do is to get off the fossil fuel addiction instead of hiding it. Unfortunately a combination of popular fiction coverage of nuclear power and the existing generation of water cooled reactor designs stops us from adopting the only serious replacement to fossil fuels. Wind and solar have the massive problem of intermittency and in the case of solar, uselessness at high latitudes. But it would help a great deal if the typical North American house had the south side roof covered in panels.

  8. Yalensis says:

    Chinese land grab with nukes… – highly unlikely, IMHO. For one thing, China is still a long way from being overpopulated, most population lives in coastal regions, they have plenty of their own sparsely populated areas inland which could be developed for agriculture and manufacturing, and government has plenty of ways to induce population to migrate internally if needed. They simply don’t need Siberia. Secondly, in the general scheme of things, China is not really a warlike country, nor is Russia. If China really needed the land (which they don’t), then more likely they would negotiate a land sale with Russia (something like Louisiana Purchase), or, more likely, the two countries would set up a joint development deal for the land, and share the profits. Great blog, though, you are bold to make these predictions. Futurology not for the chicken-hearted.

    • Never claimed that, yalensis; in fact as I argued here it’s extremely unlikely under current conditions.

      I mainly included it as a way of showing how projections can be blown of course (along with other unlikely developments such as successful geoengineering, profitable nuclear fusion, etc).

      That said, if warming follows the very worst scenarios, then IMO all bets are off. If your country faced imminent starvation and collapse as the countryside turned to desert, and faced a vast empty space to the north, wouldn’t you risk trying to conquer it? I probably would.

      PS. As regards “sparsely populated areas inland”, that’s not really relevant in China’s case. The areas that are sparsely population there are thus so for a reason – they are mountainous (Tibet, parts of Yunnan), very dry (Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia), or too cold (parts of the northern provinces); and hence useless for agriculture.

      • Considering its 100 years or so form now.

        Chinese are pretty nuts when its comes to engineering projects throughout their history.

        I wouldn’t put past them leveling mountains, temp. will already be good enough with global warming and
        TIBET (buzz word) with all that water.
        mmmmm It’ll be like garden of eden part II

  9. Regarding the development of nuclear fusion, the story to follow is surely the Energy Catalyzer by Focardi and Rossi, which has made the news in the energy sector a lot:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Catalyzer
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion#Ongoing_work

    In a way or another it will hit the headlines, either as the biggest energy scam of the century, or as the biggest energy discovery of the century (if not of the millenium). See also the nice (and hotly debated) discussion on the Oil Drum:

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7942

    This phenomenon was already (partially) known from the 90s, due to the (separate) work by Focardi and Piantelli, and in that case the ratio between energy inputs and energy output was almost 2 (and this is not a scam). The new thing today is a secret catalyzer which Rossi claims to enable them to have a ratio up to 30x (yes, thirty!).

    The story has become even more interesting lately because Rossi has reached an agreement, for an undisclosed sum, with Ampenergo, a US company, to receive royalties on sales of licenses and products built on the Energy Catalyzer in the Americas. Three of the founders have worked with the U.S. government contracts and are connected to the US Department of Defense and Department of Energy and they have started investing on it from 2009 (!):

    http://www.nyteknik.se/nyheter/energi_miljo/energi/article3179019.ece

    As discussed a lot on the web, it is unlike that the DoD and the DoE are being fooled by an Italian guy (ing. Rossi) with a dark past behind. At this point we have these two scenarios:

    1) the E-Cat is true and it would be an energy game changer, so that the secrecy surrounding it is easily justifiable;

    2) the E-cat is a scam (as most people think). In this case, the question that everyone is trying to answer is why the DoD and the DoE are spending money and time with it, knowing exactly that it is a scam. In this regard, I read so many (conspiracy) theory around, many of them contradicting each other, that it is not worth reporting them here. Well, food for thought.

  10. I think a big question is, with all the shocks in the short to long term, can global capital markets survive or will they fragment and become mercantile? If they can survive, are nation-states as they are currently composed even necessary, if decision making is made by the market and there are mechanisms to put them in order? Also as western countries become more economicaly stratified can secular democracies survive? I think we are going to see a tension between wealthy global elites (not in a conspiracy theory way but those that own and control global capital, who have no culture except market values) and largely impoverished (and often violent) local communities with their own individual cultures and political power but with little economic clout.

  11. Although you briefly address Scandinavia and a possible North American union, you don’t seem to have addressed is whether some countries will gravitate towards each other in an attempt to balance out others (as in classic British policy towards the rest Europe). Perhaps it’s outside the scope of this article, but I can see plenty of potential for some countries to work together to tip the balance. For example, how would China’s rise and decline be affected if it could work more closely with a high-end middle power like Japan?

    Additionally, although the EU certainly has major problems at the moment there is a recognition that none of its individual countries can aspire to influence global events for much longer (if, indeed, they can today). The EU can muddle dozily along quite easily in today’s period of relative plenty but a pressing need, like the environmental problems you mention and the growth of other powers, could give Europe’s major nations the incentive they need to ditch the hangers-on and work more closely together. This could thrust them back into the mix – not as the world’s top power, but certainly one of the top 3-4.

    Finally, I’d definitely be interested to read more about how you see Canada developing over the next century.

    • 1. Yep, outside the scope of the article. In my article on Europe (linked in the piece), I discussed the likely balance of power alliances there – based mostly on historical patterns. I think that China will become so powerful by 2030 – note that it’s population will be more than 10x Japan’s, and perhaps as wealthy per capita as Korea today – that relations in East Asia begin to follow the traditional pattern for that region (which is a tributary relationship of everyone else to China, inc. Japan). And this will, of course, add a further boost to Chinese power – although not an overly significant one, because becoming the first superpower is a necessary condition for achieving these tributary relations anyway. I don’t see how the decline part would be affected either. Japan can’t add new lands, water, energy resources (if anything it will suffer from the same ailments as China in a warming world), which are the driving forces behind the rise of the Arctic states.

      2. That’s a possibility too. Perhaps France, Germany, and Scandinavia can remain in some sort of union, in which case it could indeed be a major world power. But very doubtful EU as a whole can make it: national interests and cultures too divergent for that.

      3. Maybe I’ll do a post on it, but basically I view it as going something like this:
      2000-2040 – Canada an increasingly important energy, food, and mineral base, due to simultaneous opening up of its hinterland along with growing depletion elsewhere. Becomes very rich per capita, and population grows to c. 50-60mn by the end of the period.
      2040-2070 – Acquires the critical mass to become a major player in its own right, even as the US to the south (still far, far stronger) begins to experience major problems due to effects of climate change – e.g. the collapse of agriculture across the Great Plains as aquifers run out and the region otherwise turns into a dust bowl. Meanwhile, the northern neighbor ill be prospering. The democratic peace theory will face an excellent test! (The Canadians may try to acquire nuclear capabilities as a deterrent; destroying the WMD’s – existent or not – may be an excellent excuse for the US to go in).
      2070-2100 – With a population well over 100mn, if still independent Canada will remain so and its rise to superpowerdom by the end of the century or shortly afterwards is all but assured. Millions of climate refugees pour in, and as in Russia, there is no “integration” to speak of as doing so will result in the submergence of the indigenous culture – instead, they become a low-caste workforce, mostly assigned to menial tasks while the original inhabitants become a very, very rich and indolent elite. By century’s end, the population will be, perhaps, 250mn; enjoying huge surpluses (unlike the deficits elsewhere); and may be in competition with the Russian superpower for spoils such as Greenland, or (now thawing) Antarctica.

      • Hasn’t Japan have Hokkaido and wouldn’t that add land to Japan

        • Well, China also has Tibet and Heilongjiang, and the US has (a very useful place, actually) Alaska. But it’s all relative. As a rule, the lands lost to the south will outnumber those gained in the north (and Arctic countries are the only general exception to this hence why things look good for them).

      • The guys going to Canada in great numbers would be Americans. If more than half the population is American wouldn’t they hold a vote about adding some stars to their banner?

        • If the guys going to Canada are trying to leave a problem, why would they then actively pursue bringing the problem to their new country? I’m assuming, of course, that people would be moving to Canada to gain advantages not available in the US. I feel they would be more likely to resist being absorbed by the US.

      • I think it is almost a given that the Canadians will acquire nuclear capabilities to deter Russian and American annexation. They currently possess the technological and infrastructural capacity to do it now. I think that is one thing that will definitely happen in the next 90 years or so.

        • derived says:

          I live in canada and canada has more then enough technology to build hydrogen bombs however it is amazing to think such a close ally and neighbor can turn violent in under a century the future holds turmoil, and the price to be payed by our planet and the blood of our sons as they march into energy wars.

  12. Just added this extra comment because I forgot to tick the ‘notify me of follow up comments by email’ box :-)

  13. About America’s cultural and technological power

    I wouldn’t be so sure about the staying power of Hollywood. 10 years ago South Korea was nowhere. Now East and South-East Asia look at Seoul for their media fix, not Hollywood.

    With top education it is not important what you learn but how you meet and with that i think that the Ivy League can be gone in a heart beat just like what happened with the Soviet Ivy League which kept their top position in Russia but dropped to the bottom outside of the Former USSR.

    Silicon Valley is based on military spending and brain importation. Both are highly dependable on spending money.

    • For institutions like Duke or even Yale perhaps, but the likes of Harvard, Princeton or (non-Ivy) MIT will remain internationally powerful and influential for a long time to come. For a start they hardly even rely on government funding, so its collapse won’t directly tell on them.

      I don’t doubt that China may become culturally dominant in East Asia sooner rather than later, however to assume the same for the world is absurd. For a start English, as mentioned previously, is a lingua franca, being not only the dominant language in the Anglosphere (with a combined population of c. 450mn) but also the official language of the European Union (500mn) and India (1.2bn).

      Note how long it took for Latin to lose its position even though only the clergy really spoke it. Now note that the combined populations and GDP of above blocs will outnumber China’s for the foreseeable future, plus the innate difficulty of learning Chinese (speaking is doable, 可是我觉得写汉字写很难).

      • Harvard and Princeton, aren’t those law schools? You only need American lawyers if you want to have conflict resolution in American courts. MIT is known for science. Science cost a lot of money to be on the forefront. If the university isn’t on the forefront than there is no reason to go there. And that is almost as true for medical schools

        South Korea is culturally dominant in East and South East Asia. USA has been relegated to the number two there. If South Korea can succeed in Thailand and the Philippines than i don’t see why China couldn’t dominate the World. It at least has the advantage that speaking/reading Chinese is useful while that isn’t true for Korean

        Being the official language of the EU and India doesn’t mean much. They can change that very fast if there is a political want for it to happen as it isn’t the mother tongue of most of those officials.
        I also note how long it took German to loose its dominant position as scientific Lingua Franca

        • No, that’s not accurate. Princeton and Harvard aren’t law schools (though their law departments are very good). They are full-fledged universities that are global leaders in many departments, including scientific ones.

          • I knew that because i looked it up but which school you go to depends on fame. Their fame is law and (somewhat less) medicine. They also do science but MIT and California has a much bigger name in it

            ps science doesn’t pay so don’t expect a lot of foreign students to pay for the (very high) true cost of an education in science

        • true German lost its importance very quickly, but strange as it may seem, it’s on the rise again in some fields of science that are regional rather than cosmopolitan.

  14. I think for the EU not to be included at all is a bit rich. Granted it’s not a cohesive entity now. But who in 1970 would have said Europe would have a single market, negotiate as one genuine trading bloc, have absorbed the Warsaw Pact and have a common currency? There is no telling how much more integration will be achieved between now and 2050, let alone 2100. Over time it may no longer even make sense to think of Russia as a separate category from the EU.

    Power is primarily economic and “soft” today. Whereas military power and imperialism is no longer “useful” and is typically self-destructive. In that sense the EU well-placed for the 21st century. I also think your economic projections for the BRICs in general are too bullish. Russia itself may, although its economy is much too resource-dependent, reach low-“West European” standards of living (e.g. Spain or Greece) by 2025.

    • This makes the assumption that power will remain primarily economic and soft into the future, which I explicitly don’t in this scenario because I believe it very unlikely. So let’s agree to disagree and let time tell.

      Re-Russia’s resource dependence. It is in the form that much of its export revenue (c. 80%) and budget intake (c.50%) derives from oil, gas, and minerals; not so much as those sectors’ share of the national economy (which is at about 20%). If prices for these resources remain high and/or go higher – and why would they not? – that would be very beneficial for Russia.

      • I think it still holds:
        1) Nukes mean military power between advanced countries is extremely dangerous and to be avoided.
        2) World readers recognize that it is better to trade than to conquer. There is no global ideological division (for now).
        3) The reasons why conquering is pointless have been clear for a long time. I cite Aron’s “Industrial Society and War” from 1959: http://www.ina.fr/art-et-culture/litterature/video/I00017855/itw-raymond-aron-sur-son-livre-la-societe-industrielle-et-la-guerre.fr.html. (it doesn’t mean there are no wars, only that they become rarer as they become more irrational).
        4) The only really conventional wars we’ve seen recently have been in the Middle East. This is because this region is exceptional: about half the world’s oil is there, the Arabs can be reunified, and Israel is existentially threatened like no other state in the world. As such, conventional power is “useful” for an Iraq, an Iran or an Egypt in a way which isn’t true anywhere else (and I would say especially for Russia, China, Brazil… It’s also true for Americans, if they understood the self-destructiveness of military power they be wasting trillions (!) of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan)

        • I think the nuke threat is more or less gone by all the new nuke owners switching to second strike doctrine. Look at chemical weapons in WWI and how WWII was fought to the finish without even Hitler ordering a chemical counterattack.

          I doubt that wars are irrational today. Their goals are rather complex because they affect the situation within the warring state, the attacked state and the surroundings of the attacked state and the global system as a whole, plus they have very long term consequences. Look for example at colonization, few countries made money with it the later it was, but invested into military and infrastructure there. Today, these countries have quite some benefits from their oppressive past in soft power.

          • Chemical weapons are advantages for the strong, offensive side but not for the weak, defensive side. That is one of the reasons why they weren’t used in WWII

    • I agree that ‘soft’ power is increasingly more important. But…

      Military power is still important, just not in quite the same way that it used to be. It’s not as likely as before to be used in a direct conflict between two major (or even two middling) powers – the dangers are too high for that. Instead, it will be needed on the fringes, to ensure security on a nation’s fringes and (potentially, depending on how the world develops) to secure access to resources.

      Any country that doesn’t invest in its ability to project its hard power, is likely to get squeezed out by others that do.

      • It hasn’t really been true up to now. Russia/China/India/Brazil have basically no power projection capabilities and they’re allegedly big and scary. The US/UK have lots and it has been purely self-destructive for them.
        Of course this could change in the future!

        • Russia/China/India/Brazil/Japan* can nuke you with their ICBM’s. That is their power projection.

          Brazil/Japan* have everything to make ICBM’s except the go command

          • Lovely. And your target will nuke you back. That’s not called “power projection” but a “suicide pact”.

            Nukes, beyond a minimal deterrent, have been pointless for a long time. The Soviets were brain-dead and so didn’t figure this out until they’d destroyed their nation. That people still think this kind of hard power is relevant (in the vast majority of situations) is beyond me…

            • Nuke are there to protect the homeland

              Brazil has a land border with most of South America. Russia has its Near-abroad. India is close where the oil is and China and Japan have a deep water navy including multiple aircraft carriers within 5 years

            • I think there are two types of nukes, the startegic nukes for mutually agreed suicide (whomever you nuke will strike back with deadly material) and tactical nukes that can be used precisely against military targets like fleets, bunkers and other installations that are otherwise hard to crack. China and the other new nuclear powers are clever, they have their small array of strategic nukes as a quick reply for a strategic nuclear attack and that boosts their international status. The Russians were not so sharp by building lots of big and expensive nukes instead of a minimal strategic detterent and a tactical nuclear force, that could be employed for first strikes below the strategic nuke all out level and in order not to target humans, but electronic systems, plus a fleet to control the blue sea and an economy to pay for all that. Today tactical nukes are replaceable by a number of aerosol bombs and other weapons, so there isn’t much need for the big guilt weapons even in tactical use anymore.

          • The reason nukes, or even military power, are (somewhat) irrelevant today is only because today’s hegemon, the United States (for all its faults) adheres to rules of the game that are largely predictable and reciprocal – not perfectly so, but true nonetheless. The exceptions tend to be small regimes (like Iraq, etc) that don’t play by those rules; but this is only a form of gunboat colonialism at worst, not different in kind from Britain’s habit of sending the Royal Navy to countries that broke its rules of the game (e.g. defaulted on debts, like Egypt in the 1880’s).

            Now if some other hegemon arrives that institutes different rules of the game (e.g. no rules at all), then suddenly the countries with weak militaries are screwed. Let me give a very hypothetical scenario. Say that following your logic, the Russian President idealistically scraps Russia’s nuclear arsenal, tactical and strategic. Then an expansionist nationalist group overthrows the Communists and China invades the Far East, conquering it easily because of Russia’s conventional inferiority. That President’s name would become accursed for all history.

            • Yalensis says:

              More realistic hypothetical:
              Idealistic youthful pro-Western Russian president scraps all nukes and announces grand new era of detente with USA. American specialists arrive in droves and “helpfully” assist in the dismantling of Russian nukes. A couple of weeks after the last nuke has been dismantled and carted away, 1000 demonstrators, wearing mauve-colored scarves gather outside Kremlin in slightly violent flash-mob to demand more democracy. Beginning of Mauve Revolution. OMON crack a couple of skulls. The whole incident is captured on you-tube. Using Twitter, Facebook, and their amazing phone-texting skills (hyper-nimble thumbs), mauve revolutionaries instantly spread their vision of democracy and demand an end to thuggish authoritarian regime in Russia. USA and NATO quickly recognize the 1000 revolutionaries as the legitimate government of Russia and declare no-fly zone for entire territory west of Urals. Mauve revolutionaries, still using their amazing thumbs, text to NATO bombers coordinates of various juicy infrastructure targets to bomb, including residence of youthful Russian president, who has now been declared an international war criminal (because his OMONs previously cracked a couple of mauve skulls). Russian prez attempts to fight back, but … ooops! No more nukes! Youthful prez slaps his forehead like Homer Simpson: “D’oh! What was I thinking??” Meanwhile, in White House Oval Office, American president chuckles to his staff: “Morons!”

  15. And if I could just make my last post very concrete. Europe’s power is limited and amorphous but is very real. To take one example of the EU’s influence on its neighborhood: Europe offers access to the world’s biggest market, investment, migrant labor opportunities and EU funds.

    This is very concrete a valuable for the average nation, much more so than how many F-16s or nuclear weapons you have stockpiled. And now look: Serbia has effectively turned away from the nationalist-Russian path and called joining the EU it’s “destiny”, even arresting its war criminals. Ukraine has rejected a customs union with Russia in the immediate because it wants an FTA with the EU. Turkey has been knocking on the EU’s door forever and, only after over half a century of rejection, have begun thinking independently. Russia itself wants a customs union with the EU as soon as it is able to join the WTO.

    In addition, for all the troubles now, some nations still believe in the EU project. Poland notably has been extremely aggressive in enlarging the EU and spreading its “capitalist-democratic sphere” and sanctioning the Belarusian dictatorship.

    I think it is to have a very old-fashioned and outmoded notion of power to dismiss all this. Stalin and Brezhnev just counted tank divisions and nukes: look where that got Russia.

  16. Also, I invite people to have a look at China’s medium-term demographics, even by 2025 its working age population will have begun to shrink massively: http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/unpp/panel_population.htm

    Unless it achieves Western standards of living with the next 20 years the moment of opportunity for being an exceptional power (like say the US between 1945-1960) will have passed.

    • Well, the US is 1945-1960 was a more or less one of a kind event, artificially caused by the destruction of European industry during WW2. With industrial output from France to the USSR down by 50% or more, and the UK hobbled by debt, it was natural for the US to obtain a dominant position. I don’t see China ever doing the same unless Russia and America nuke each other, or something.

      Otherwise you make two big, and IMO, very very questionable assumptions:
      (1) Won’t attain “Western” standards of living by 2030.
      (2) Shrinking of working age population will be very serious impediment, i.e. growing old before rich.

      By the numbers:
      Re-1. Using the IMF series, China’s GDP /cap is now at $7500 as of 2010; make that $8300 for 2011. South Korea attained that level in 1990-1991 (let’s take 1991 for convenience). Today it is at $28,000. Assuming that China follows Korea’s growth profile – and I will note that its human capital is higher than Korea’s at its equivalent stage of development – it should be well into today’s Greece or Israel-like levels of development by 2030.
      Of course, things like peak oil and rising energy/mineral prices won’t help, but they’ll hurt the developed economies too.
      (I’d also note it’s likely Chinese prosperity is underestimated. For instance, Thailand’s GDP /cap is given as $8500 for 2009, whereas its manufacturing wages were $250 compared to $400 in China; likewise, on a range of consumption stats (this is particularly impressive given its high savings rate). Real GDP is probably closer to around $12,000 like in Brazil.

      Re-2. Really doubt that drop in percentage share of working population from 68.2% to 61.0% can be that cataclysmic, especially bearing in mind that hundreds of millions can yet be released from agriculture into higher added value industries. Have to go now, but for now I think you may be interested in leafing through this Goldman Sachs analysis of the issue: WILL CHINA GROW OLD BEFORE GETTING RICH?

      PS. Back earlier than expected, but I’ve said pretty much all I was going to say. I think both assumptions are highly questionable. China’s GDP is already that of a middle-income country – according to IMF figures, its per capita GDP is slightly low than Thailand; but according to other indicators, as well as pre-2007 revisions IMF and World Bank (suspiciously just when China was closing in on US GDP), perhaps on the level of Brazil or even Mexico – and will be a high-income country by 2030. And even if aging becomes a problem, it will only do so once it is developed (as in Japan, or Korea); in any case, things like peak coal and spreading of the Gobi desert will probably be far more critical issues then.

  17. Doug M. says:

    “to follow the traditional pattern for that region (which is a tributary relationship of everyone else to China, inc. Japan). ”

    I do feel compelled to point out that this is nonsense on stilts. No offense.

    Japan has almost never considered itself tributary to China. The last time Japan formally acknowledged Chinese superiority was back in the early Ashikaga Shogunate, almost six hundred years ago. That relationship had completely disappeared by the 1500s; in fact, when the Chinese Emperor Wanli tried to address Hideyoshi as a vassal, it enraged Hideyoshi into his second invasion of Korea. The subsequent Tokugawa Shogunate (1600 – 1850) not only completely ignored Chinese claims to supremacy, it closed Japan’s ports to Chinese merchants, sent Chinese envoys home without an audience, and quietly snitched Okinawa out from under Chinese rule. As for post-Tokugawa Japan… well, “tributary” does not exactly characterize the last 150 years of that relationship.

    A bit further south, Vietnamese nationalism is basically built around Sinophobia. (Vietnam more or less came into existence in order to resist Chinese expansion to the south.) Vietnam entering a “tributary relationship” to China is about as likely as Poland being “tributary” to Russia, or Mexico to the US — viz., absent actual conquest and occupation, it’s just not going to happen.

    There aren’t really “traditional patterns” for that part of the world, any more than there are in Europe.

    Doug M.

    • The question is tributary in what metric. Clearly Japan will never consider itself an underling of China. But whether it will be an economic power in 2050 is not clear. I am not sure the current fad to transplant production to China (by both Japan and the USA) is an intelligent thing to do in the long run. This is a type of 3rd-world-ization that is hidden by trickle down and cheap credit for a while but eventually means the impoverishment of the population. There is no knowledge based economy that somehow is not being offshored as well.

      A pure consumer economy where there is just selling and buying of goods and services is not a functional economy, especially when the service sector jobs are $8 per hour. The merchants, of course, are making a killing in the short run and it looks like they are banking on new consumers in China and India to offset the newly created paupers in the west.

    • Thanks for the historical explanation.

      Still, AFAIK, this tributary system did exist under the early Ming dynasty (see Cheng Ho’s voyages in which he collected tribute). China at the time was strong, esp. in the naval component. But then it grew weaker, in particular on water. I notice the time its former vassal began rejecting it also correlates with the time it had to turn away from the seas to face a growing nomad threat, which culminated in the Manchu conquest in 1644.

      But if China becomes, again, an unquestionably dominant power – i.e., with about 5x-8x Japan’s GDP, and far outstripping anyone else – would not the region have to fold to it? Not in the sense of outright annexation, of course, or even the sending of tribute, but doing things like joining it in coalitions if China decides to, say, send a “peace-keeping” flotilla and army to Somalia? (e.g. much like many European nations leaped to join the US in its Iraqi adventure).

      • Second point first: there’s a technical, professional political science term for what you’re describing. It’s called “bandwagoning” (really), and it’s when states follow the lead of a more powerful state or coalition of states, even when it’s not directly in their interest to do so. The Second Gulf War is an excellent example; we saw countries like Romania and Australia sending contingents to fight, even though they had zero direct interest, because they wanted to stay on good terms with the dominant power.

        However, it’s not the only way states can respond to a dominant power. There is, for instance, “reaction coalition”, in which states band together in opposition to a state that is perceived as threatening. See, e.g., the endless coalitions against Napoleon, the formation of the Triple Entente against Wilhelmine Germany, or the creation of NATO.

        (It’s not an either/or thing, BTW — there are a wide range of other possibilities. These are just two of the most popular items on the menu.)

        You’re automatically assuming that China’s neighbors will bandwagon. Maybe — but you’re not providing any support for that assumption. “China will be strong!” is necessary but not sufficient; there are many other ways that neighbors can respond to the emergence of a new power.

        — Note that Indian-Japanese relations have grown steadily stronger and tighter over the last decade. India and Japan quietly signed a security pact in 2008. They’ve conducted joint naval exercises in the Indian Ocean. Trade has roughly tripled since 2001 (albeit from a low base), and Japan is funding several massive Indian infrastructure projects with cheap loans.

        Similarly, Japanese-Vietnamese relations have been growing ever warmer and closer; Japan is Vietnam’s largest investor and largest donor, and there are regular friendly high-level meetings of prime ministers and Party chairmen and such. The two countries don’t have a formal security pact (yet), but have agreed upon a “strategic partnership for peace and prosperity in Asia”. Their first joint military exercises ever are scheduled for 2013 — because it’s going to be “Vietnam-Japan Friendship Year”, don’t you know.

        So, while it’s possible they could all change their minds and roll over for China, that’s not the direction things are heading at the moment. It’s not an Entente-style formal anti-Chinese alliance — yet — but the foundations for one are already well in place.

        Doug M.

        • Yalensis says:

          @doug: Re: Tradition of hostility between China and Vietnam… That actually explains a lot. I am referring to all the stuff that happened in the 1970’s (=Vietnam War; Chinese sponsoring of Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; Nixon detente with China; Vietnamese liberating Cambodia from Pol Pot; China subsequently “punishing” Vietnam; etc.)

          • Yalensis says:

            P.S. I also recall reading somewhere that, after Ho Chi Minh defeated American army in 1975, a majority of the pro-American “Vietnamese boat people” who subsequently fled the country, were ethnic Chinese. Wouldn’t you know it? Scratch beneath any conflict anywhere in the world, and almost always you will find something tribal or ethnic going on.

            • Most Vietnamese boat people were not ethnic Chinese (Hoa) at all. In the first wave in 1975, they made up 14 percent of the refugees. Most Hoa left in the late 70s and early 80s. In 2013 the Hoa made up around 11.5 percent of the Vietnamese American population of over 1.7 million.

              Source:
              Trieu, M.M. (2013). Chinese-Vietnamese Americans. In X. Zhao, & E.J. Park (Eds.), Asian Americans: An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political History (pp. 305-310). Santa Barbara, USA: Greenwood.

          • Doug M. says:

            The Vietnamese have been resisting southward Chinese expansion — mostly successfully — since the second century BC, when the Han Dynasty conquered a chunk of Vietnam only to be expelled a few decades later. It’s one of the oldest conflicts in the world.

            Incidentally, over those two thousand years “Vietnam” has shifted noticeably to the south. The southern frontier areas of China — Guangxi and even a bit of Guangdong — used to be ethnically and culturally Vietnamese. Over time, the Chinese conquered them and expelled or assimilated the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese, believe you me, remember this.

            Meanwhile the Vietnamese, when not busy trying to fight off China, were doing their own expansion to the south. What’s now central Vietnam used to be ethnically completely different — it was Cham country — while southern Vietnam used to be part of Cambodia. The Vietnamese kings pushed south, annexed these lands, reduced the Cham to a poor minority and expelled the Cambodians and replaced them with ethnic Vietnamese settlers. The Cambodians, of course, remember /this/.

            To oversimplify, Cambodians hate and fear the Vietnamese, while the Vietnamese are truculent but nervous towards China.

            Doug M.

          • Doug M. says:

            The North Vietnamese government had… friendly is too strong… coolly correct relations with China up until 1975. After that, relations deteriorated rapidly.

            To oversimplify, Southeast Asia after 1975 became a front in the Sino-Soviet rivalry. Cambodia under the Khmers Rouges was aggressively pro-Mao, but considered Brezhnev’s USSR to be “revisionist” and “rightist”. Vietnam after 1975 was friendly to the USSR and hostile to China. The (short and one-sided) war between Vietnam and the Khmers Rouges regime was in part driven by this — though it’s also relevant that (1) Vietnam and Cambodia have traditionally been hostile to each other, and (2) the Khmers Rouges were incredibly obnxious — xenophobic, paranoid, arrogant, and truculent. That’s without even mentioning the whole genocide thing.

            The 1979 war was an attempt by China to “discipline” their errant Vietnamese comrades. It didn’t work out so well.

            Doug M.

          • Awesome stuff. Really is a dog eat dog world. (In that it’s interesting). I know China and Vietnam usually have bad relations and frequently fought each other, but I didn’t know that the Vietnamese once actually had Guangxi and parts of Guangdong.

            Is, by any chance, Cantonese related to Vietnamese? I recently trolled a Cantonese language instruction book on the Internet and noticed that it had very little in common with Mandarin (i.e. very few common or similar-sounding words, though there are a few e.g. cheung/chang (sing), luhk/liu (six)). But the sounds of many of the words looked similar to the type of sounds I’d expect in Vietnamese – lots of ng’s at the beginnings of words, etc.

            • Doug M. says:

              The two languages are completely different in structure, and belong to different families — so they’re as different as, well, English and Chinese. But there’s been a tremendous amount of borrowing over the years — not just vocabulary but phonetics as well. (Or so I’m told.)

              If you want to get a Chinese /or/ a Vietnamese worked up, ask about the Kingdom of Nan Yue. This was an Iron Age kingdom (some centuries BC) that covered what’s now northern Vietnam, Guangxi and Guangdong. China says it was Chinese; Vietnam says it was ancestral Vietnam. IMO the evidence suggests that Nan Yue was a multiethnic kingdom with Vietnamese the largest and economically dominant group, but run by Chinese conquerors from the north.

              This is of course offensive to both sides. It bugs the Chinese because it suggests that these provinces were not always ethnic Chinese (which of course they weren’t — Guangdong wasn’t Han Chinese minority until well into the Ming period — but the Chinese don’t like to be told this). It bugs the Vietnamese because it suggests that the first great Vietnamese kingdom was created under Chinese rule. Also because the largest ethnic group in Nanyue was a group called the Baiyue, who were probably ancestors of the Vietnamese — and the Baiyue seem to have been pretty primitive; a bunch of Chinese adventurers had little trouble taking them over and setting up a satellite kingdom.

              A VERY rough comparison might be to early Rus. You have a relatively backwards group on the edge of civilization, one step up from tribalism, getting taken over and organized into a state by a small ruling caste coming from further north. This then evolves into a frontier state that (a) develops a conflicted relationship to the main civilizational area nearby, and (b) becomes expansionist in its own right. (Of course the Vietnamese were crowded into a penninsula with much less room to expand. But they did what they could.)

              Doug M.

            • Doug M. says:

              – You know, the question made me curious, and I googled a bit. Turns out you’ve stumbled across a well-established controversy.

              Basically: professional linguists outside China are unanimous in agreeing that Vietnamese is an utterly distinct language from a completely different language family — the Mon-Khmer branch of the Afro-Asiatic language tree. It’s completely separate from Chinese, as different as English and Mohawk, or Russian and Evenk. There’s been a tremendous amount of borrowing back and forth, to be sure — the “ng” sound, for instance, and the Vietnamese surname “Le” which is basically the Chinese “Lee”, and lots of other stuff. And the two languages sort of sound alike — they use a lot of the same phonemes, and are both tonal. But they’re still completely different, and the similarities are entirely due to a couple of thousand years of living next to each other.

              But: professional linguists /in/ China split on this issue, with a large minority claiming that Vietnamese is *really* a Sino-Tibetan language closely related to — no, let’s say it clearly: descended from — Chinese.

              Obviously this is a position driven by a Chinese nationalist agenda, and AFAICT no respectable linguist outside of China gives it any credence at all. However, apparently it’s gained a lot of popular acceptance inside China. “They even sound alike! How can you say it’s a different language family?”

              Doug M.

              • Yalensis says:

                @doug: Re. Chinese linguists arguing that Vietnamese is descended from Chinese dialects…
                Fascinating! Not that I know anything about Chinese or Vietnamese (my specialty was Slavic and Indo-European languages), so I have no right to an opinion on this, but, still it upsets me when I hear about linguists anywhere putting nationalistic/political agendas ahead of their professional obligations. Come on, guys, facts are facts, so man up and accept reality!
                P.S. Every professional lingust worth their salt knows that two peoples living side by side for centuries WILL start to sound alike, even if their languages evolved from completely different language families. Lots of words borrowed back and forth, to sure. But, as you point out, even phonemes start to sound similar. Reason being that Guy A speaking Language A will marry Girl B speaking Language B; and as they attempt to learn each others’ languages, their accents will start to merge. Then multiply this by a lot of inter-marrying and a lot of bi-lingual children, and after many generations the allophones start to merge acoustically. It’s not all that mysterious, and it certainly doesn’t negate morphological evidence indicating separate paths of evolution. It’s like saying that dolphins are a species of fish because they have fins and swim in the ocean.

            • BTW, found this relevant article on the issue at Robert Lindsay’s site. Haven’t read it yet, but seems very detailed analysis of whether Vietnamese is a Sino-Tibetan language.

              http://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2009/01/10/the-classification-of-the-vietnamese-language/

              Probable answer – as you say, no, it isn’t.

            • The Thai, the Vietnamese and several smaller tribes of South Asia have a very vivid history of being subdued by the Chinese in their now South Chinese homelands. And they decided to move to some place new in order not to be slaughtered and bullied again. So China does have a history of aggressive territorial expansion and its neighbours know it very very well. These are the epics how their nations were founded. Koreans for example got the Chinese out early on and in turn became the little brother.
              Of course, if Chinese might was great and threatening, they would do lip service, but so far there’s no source about these nations actually helping China in any task. The Imjin War for example is rather Korea fighting for survival because it didn’t want to be crushed between the great powers China and Japan.
              China and Japan have been the antagonists in this region because Japan just needed a fleet and marines while China needed to defend at land and at sea.

              • Taiwan for example has the potential to become a nation on its own because they have the Hakkas with a different history from the Imperial Chinese and the longer this island is self gouverened the more intermixing will allow them to claim a different heritage.
                Taiwan again is crucial to naval power in East Asia and its quite interesting that the Chinese went far and wide but were quite late to take this pirate haven at their door.
                Furthermore China has an interesting definition of its territory that hardly leaves any neighbour without a serious territorial threat.
                So I think we’ll have China and Japan arguing about each others share of power. While you point out population and economy, you should also take a look at Britain and France, France lost despite its economy because England just needed the sea and because of its political system had better finances.
                In the current situation the Chinese navy can grow because the Russian army is weak, but if Russia grows as you predict, China is at a serious disadvantage say against a host of naval powers defending their turf. So Japan for example is able to extract quite good bargains if remains part of a maritime alliance and doesn’t throw in its lot with an encroaching China (from where many Japanese fled, often because of political persecution and left behind fantastic storiesthat are still remebered today).
                I must also concede that there are people who see them all as Asians and part of one big culture with many facets and I think money will be the key where the voyage goes, depending on who offers the better deal, old America or new China?

                )

            • As an Australian-born Chinese whose parents came from Taishan county in Guangdong province, I’m very interested in this discussion of the relationship between Cantonese and Vietnamese people. Both Cantonese and Vietnamese speakers were historically part of the Yue people. Until recently, Taishanese (both my parents’ mother tongue; we refer to it as the Sze Yup dialect) was considered a hillbilly dialect of Cantonese but it’s now recognised as part of the group of Yue dialects that includes Standard Cantonese.

              Taishan County provided the bulk of migrants to North America in the 1800s, in particular the men who built the transcontinental railways across the Rocky Mountains in western Canada and the United States. When my parents visited San Francisco in 1988, they were amazed that most Chinese people living there spoke Taishanese. The situation has probably changed as it has in Australia with most Chinese migrants here now speaking Mandarin Chinese instead of Cantonese or Taishanese.

              I don’t know either Cantonese or Taishanese well (when I was growing up, my parents didn’t put me into formal Chinese-language instruction classes and my mother was embarrassed about speaking Taishanese, believing it to be a hick language) but Taishanese has even more words that begin with “ng-” than Cantonese does and it also has that peculiar initial “thl-” sound that is familiar to speakers of Welsh and Aztec-Nahuatl.

            • I would like to comment that Vietnam is basically Nan Yue switched around. Viet is Yue in Chinese (Yue is Viet in Vietnamese), and Nam is Nan (probably from borrowing Chinese) . (As a side note: in Korean, Nan is also Nam, and that’s also probably borrowing from Chinese). You can tell that the phonology is similar especially when spoken fast or in normal conversation speed.

              About Cantonese and Vietnamese: Most languages in South China and near Vietnam sound similar. We (my family and friends, etc.) have always made jokes that Cantonese is basically Vietnamese because of the “sounds” that the people make when speaking both. (Also Guangdong dialect/language is similar to Cantonese and Vietnamese, but as you move to the East and Northwards, you will see that the languages become less “Vietnamese-like” and more “Mandarin-like” in terms of phonology when using Vietnamese as a starting point. Hakka is a language that is spoken by groups to the East of Guangdong, and the language still has the “Vietnamese sounds” in it, although less pronounced. Although you could probably make this observation for about every language on Earth. (Germanic languages are an example, Latin-derived ones are another.)

            • Rasfarengi says:

              Actually the group the Chinese called “yue” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baiyue#Name lived as far north as Fujian province, but no one knows if they were all the ancestors of Vietnamese, there were many Yue tribes and there languages were not recorded, it seems to just be a global term for “southern barbarian” which likely also include the ancestors of the Thai/Lao most of whom were pushed out of China (but some related groups like the Dai still live in China), hell even relatives of the Souhtheast Asian Hmong (the Miao) still live in China. Basically as Han expanded south they displaced and absorbed these peoples. The current Viet were one of these groups largely pushed out of present day China, and many mixed with them…which is why there is a genetic maternal cline in China from North to South depending on who Han Chinese men married (often not Han women but local women in newly conquered areas, which obviously is not unique to Han).
              http://pmsol3.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/chinese-y-chromosome-testing/

      • Doug M. says:

        The Ming. Yes, a tributary system existed under the early Ming — nearly six hundred years ago. If you’re going to handwave history back to the 1420s, then you need to put England and France into a hundred-year long war, have Uzbekistan conquer Iran and invade India, and make Russia a tributary state of Mongolia.

        More seriously: the full-on Ming tributary system existed only briefly, for a generation or two. (Versions of it survived in attenuated form a while longer.) Why? Well, a rough comparison would be to American economic dominance from 1945 to 1970 or so. That was a unique historical moment, caused by the flattening of most other major industrial powers. Similarly, the early Ming enjoyed a unique period when China was both unified and utterly dominant: the Mongols had been defeated and rendered quiescent for a generation (though they’d come back later), Japan was under a series of weak Shoguns, Central Asia was a power vacuum after the death of Tamerlane and the collapse of his empire, pre-Babur India was a collection of quarrelsome city-states, Tibet was absorbed in a protracted religious-dynastic struggle, and the Manchu were still much too weak and backwards to be a threat. During the first generation of Ming rule, Vietnam was divided under a weak dynasty, and the Ming had little difficulty in conquering it (though this would prove to be overstretch; the Vietnamese would later reunite under the national hero Le Loi and expel the Ming).

        So, saying that a tributary relationship to China is “the natural pattern for that region” is like saying that American economic dominance is the natural pattern for the world. No. It was a one-off, a particular historical moment, and there’s no particular reason to think it will repeat itself.

        Doug M.

        • Okay, thanks for that. I see that this China as traditional tributary state theme is a trope.

  18. @AK
    What do you make of the recent report from the People’s Bank of China that corrupt Chinese officials made off with huge amounts of money to Western countries between 1995-2008?
    And the recent news that a majority of rich Chinese want to emigrate? Does that sound like something people from a rising nation would do?

    • Sure, why not?

      • If China is on an upward trajectory, why would the economic elites of China want to betray their nation by emigrating with their wealth to US, Canada, Australia etc.? And what do you make of the report about the corrupt officials between 1995-2008?

        • Because national interests and private interests don’t always converge?

          Because the presence of some corrupt officials does not necessarily lead to a downward trajectory?

    • That they are fleeing indicates they don’t feel safe in China. This is a sign that Chinese corruption is abating. Maybe it is not fast enough, but we are talking about decades here. Rising nations don’t have to follow a recipe that was set forth by a some other nations at other periods in history. China right now is much like the USA was in 1900. Corrupt with almost no labour rights. But development pushed the corruption to the side and gave workers something other than sweatshop conditions. This took decades.

      • I think the question is rather are they part of the party? It seems that coming from a family that has influential party members and being big in business today go hand in hand. So someone with a different background might feel rather secure abroad instead of sitting in a town were all people in power and with money belong to one clan and he doesn’t and feels like their cash cow and wonders when they’ll use criminal methods to get him rid of his business. So the countermove has been to open the party for businessmen, but are they accepted as equals of the old elite? In China it has a tradition of centuries, especially during their golden age, that state officials out of rich families took over companies that became too big and successful. In their they invested their substantial income into land and education, so they formed a scholar gentry. I feel todays situation is not so different, but instead of exams, you must be able to become a party member and that’s really difficult.

        When the businessmen really go back to China with their money its time to wake up.

        • 1 in ten adults is a party member so it doesn’t sounds to me to be that difficult to become one. Having a pulse and a want is probably all it takes for any law-abiding citizen.

          There is also the issue of the one-child policy which leads to families that are not particularly big

          • 1 in 10? Well that sounds like a lot, but are you sure it’s only about members of the Communist party or are the other Chinese bloc parties included in this statistic? And are all members of the Communist party having a say or are there a lot of people trying to work one’s way up the hard way, who have to sell politics, but don’t have much influence on them (just like in most democracies).

            • I looked it up, there are 80 million members, so 5% of the population because also children and elders can be members.

              • The Chinese population is not 80.27 million/5% =1605 million but less and while it may be true that children can be members doesn’t mean that they are as often member as the general population or you count the pioneers and youth league members as party members but both of those organisations have significant more members than the party

              • 1,339,724,852 according to 2010 official data. This may be too little, but.so about 8% are officially members of the party. Are they all active, do they all have a say and all become wealthy?

              • 8% of the total population including children. You claim that kids could also become member of the party but even if that was true i would believe that it would be more than 10% of the over 18 population of China is a party member.

                About power. It is a communist party so internally every party member has the same power just like in a democratic country where you have the same power as Ferdinand Piëch

  19. You have some assumptions in your predictions that can be considered questionable:

    No new energy souce gets discovered and so there’s a scramble for the last oil.
    Well, ever heard of deep sea methane?
    Ever thought about turning algae and other plants into fuel?
    Ever thought about relaunching liquidifying coal and using robots for even deeper mining (that would make Europe energy independent)?
    Of course there’s solar energy, I think it will be important to produce energy that is used to produce more energy or change it into suitable molecules.

    The problems with water are real, but like the resource problem its a question of energy supply. You’re a pessimist about solving it, I’m an optimist. Perhaps you could try to take a different mindset and predict the outcome if slight modification of current technology is succesful.

    The problem with large scale migration in short periods of time is that these people don’t blend in with their identity. So Canada will likely be very American and Russia could be compartmentalized by inner divisions if it really becomes the best place in the world.

    Another problem is that you have a misconception about foreign trade. You take the growth of individual countries as if they were seperate legal entities. However, a legal union like the EU has more transborder exchange between two countries per head GDP then Michigan and Ontario, simple because of the legal framework (be it good or bad). (see Paul Krugmann, International economics: theory and policy)

    Another thing observed in many regions and many ages is that if one power gets big and wants a new role and position in an established system, especially hegemony like Germany, the old elites band together and that’s the bandwaggon I except and the alliance will be a great naval power with little to fear on land (because Russia will have to move its military buildup to Siberia) and Brazil for example was traditionally part of such an alliance plus lots of naval bases worldwide with lots of experienced sailors and marines. I think that’s a general fault of your analyses that you misjudge naval power by stressing shore based carrier killers instead of analyzing the ability to keep the lines of communication at sea.

    Generally, I think your predictions for Russia have a tendency towards greatest optimism while on the other hand for the world you are a pessimist as outlined above. I would really appreciate if you tried to look at things with different mindsets to state rather a range of interdependent courses than one single prediction.
    However, I agree that Russia will do better economically, but is also in a position where its military must heed to be able to defend that growth.

    • I criticize Anatoly for being too much of a doomer, so I’ll elaborate the argument why I’m neither a blue eyed cornucopian.

      OK, let’s add the difference between a cornucopian and a Malthusian from my perspective. Malthusian was Europe in the first half of the 14th century. Woods had almost disappeared, leaving mostly a few trees with intensely farmed branches and paintings show sand dunes in the middle of the continent. That’s the time when you’ve reached a real limit. The cornucopian would believe that just when it’s needed someone will develop a technology to solve all current problems and help avoid the catastrophe that actually happened in Europe and that helped trigger the Renaissance because the surviving heirs were quite wealthy (and some labour intensive technologies disappeared. They’re rather a sign of reaching the limit).
      http://www.sristi.org/cms/en/our_network by Anil Gupta shows that solutions may be developed but are hardly known outside the village community. So solutions need a businessman who popularizes them and makes them available. This is a rather limited affair and I doubt our current world economic system can produce useful solutions for the technological and economic state of most of earth’s human inhabitants. Under stress, like every time in recorded history, the non-affluent will be hit hard and deadly and so I can understand the BRIC steering right into AGW by growing their wealth instead of doing all the West wants them to do in order to avoid a bigger catastrophe.
      We are not yet so far based on current technological possibilities that peak oil will create a Malthusian catastrophe and it’s unlikely that oil will the reason for a collapse because there are alternatives for winning transportable and consumable energy. The problem is rather that energy gets much more expensive with these, thus putting evolutionary pressure on high energy consumption economies. And the ever more expensive energy is the ingredient that allows to much better weather the coming global warming.
      If poor economies can’t adapt quick enough, they’ll be reduced to more manufacture instead of industry, putting them in turn closer to a Malthusian catastrophe. Of course, oil is more than fuel and the last reserves will see a staggering value addition because of their properties for the chemical industry. However, this industry might also cope with its old coal tar recipes reeditioned. So while I believe the fuel issue is surmountable, it so far looks rather more expensive. On the other hand this development will likely converge with the rising prices for petrol, so in the end there’s a supplementation of petrol from other sources, some of them even green without adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. In that way scarcity will rather trigger a development and good examples are apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany, who both coped with technology to work their way around chronic petrol shortages. As pointed out, the problem is not a shortage of the possibilities for energy supply, but the expenses of energy consumption. I don’t believe this will lead to a downright worldwide catastrophe, but I agree that it will change the landscape in combination with climate changes and the increasing costs to cope with them.

  20. I also wonder about India. If China does rise to the top and pose a systemic challenge to democracy, won’t this change Indian attitudes and make them one of the rallying points for the West by moving their investments?

    • Your assumption is that India is a democracy and that China wont become a democracy very soon. There is also the question of why we in the West would want India to be the world leader as its culture isn’t as close to us as the Chinese.

    • There is also the question of foreign countries ruling you. It doesn’t really matter if they them self are democratic because their rule over you isn’t

      • @charly
        I’m a German and I feel no way oppressed by the US currently being a superpower. We Germans just do fine and make our own decisions, many of which the US doesn’t like.
        Even if China introduced democracy tomorrow, it won’t be a democracy because changing the institutional set-ups will take decades and a revolution. Add to this that government there has decided to be measured by growth, so the later a democracy gets introduced, the worse it’ll be off because it has to cope with decreasing growth and the economic crisis each growth period is followed by.

        India has made it to their own democracy decades ago and they’re working out a functional model. Plus India doesn’t have a recent history of fooling their partners like China has been and is doing. So India has more trust, that includes cooperations in weapons development, the most critical knowledge.

        • Germany was a cold war site with a high probability to change into a hot war battlefield site. The US (and the USSR) made sure that the local population was for them. In places were that wasn’t the case the US wasn’t as “nice”. Besides can you can call a country nice when they support terrorist bombings in Europe

          • Stalin offered reunification and being a great power for neutrality. It were our representants who reclaimed souvereignity in the “tapestry scene” and opted for Western alignment.
            For the US to be bad to a country it needs lots of people in that country using US support to follow their own interests. Do you think they won’t do this without US support?

            • I didn’t know that but you have to be honest. Unification isn’t that important to most people especially not under the leadership of a country whose daughters you raped and whose sons you killed.
              Stalin may have said trust us but that doesn’t mean it would have been smart

              • That has ever since been a big debate in Germany whether we could have had the same chance as Austria and saved lots of people who died in the Iron curtain. I think Stalin was honest simply because a neutral Germany was less of a threat than a Western aligned major part of it. Adenauer’s argument was that he wanted the safest position possible to negotiate with Stalin, especially concerning the German POW still held captive.
                Yes, Germans and Russians raped a lot and their women got raped, but that was a topic you didn’t talk about then.

        • Problem with India is that they have more homegrown guerilla movements than the rest of the world combined.

          • Guerrilla is in most cases organized crime with a narrative for public support. Which nation doesn’t have that, no matter what you call it?

            • You are absolutely right that they are often just a cover for organized crime but India has an awful lot of it and those narratives only work if there is some perceived truth in it

              • Any reliable statistics on Chinese triads?
                You know the old Churchill saying?
                Our organized crime in Europe consists also of lots of self-acclaimed guerrillas, but we officially don’t always buy the story, like ETA, true IRA, the ‘Ndragheta or the PKK.

              • Which Churchill saying?

                Guerillas occupy land, do the triads do that in the same way? I somehow doubt that

              • Triads and other organized crime don’t have turfs where none else enforces law and for which they fight?

                “the only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself” Winston Churchill

  21. Zoroaster says:

    To be honest AK you sound like a Byzantine confidently predicting the return of the Roman Empire ten years before Muhammad’s birth.

  22. Keshav Prasad Bhattarai says:

    Beautifully analysed with sharp intellect. I fully agree with this well researched piece and believe the course of Geo-political events move ahead as predicted. Thanks for this fine article

  23. Thank you for this nice article with logical predictions. Me to have tried to write a small article on this subject. http://jainismus.hubpages.com/hub/The-Essentials-of-Being-a-Super-Power

  24. Anyone considered the possibility of Argentina and Australia being future super-powers? Argentina has an educated population, a good agricultural base and plenty of water resources locked up in glaciers in Patagonia. There may be significant oil deposits in the South Atlantic, some of which might be the source of future disputes with the United Kingdom.

    If Australia can wean itself from psychological dependency on the United States and the United Kingdom, it could be a very significant power in its part of the world. There is solar power potential in its desert regions.

    I don’t see Indonesia being a very viable state in the near future as it depends a great deal on US aid, much of which I suspect ends up with the military. If the US collapses as a political entity, which I believe it will do before 2030, Indonesia is likely to break up: Irian Jaya will break away first, followed perhaps by Maluku in the eastern part of the country and Acheh in the far west. Malaysia may scoop up territory in Kalimantan (on the island of Borneo) and possibly Sumatra. As Malaysia sits on some very important shipping lanes, it may very well become a future power in its part of the world. Brunei might also try to expand into Kalimantan.

    I agree Turkey will be a significant power but I see it exercising influence over Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and those countries may eventually follow Turkey’s example in changing from the virtual monarchies they are now to some form of democracy. Tatarstan and Bashkortostan could be emboldened to demand some form of self-government in the way Catalonia and the Basque regions have self-government in Spain.

    • Power is mostly a numbers game in which population is key. That is why Australia and Argentina don’t have a chance and the state of greater Java, aka Indonesia has.

      • True, Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world but does it have a unified culture to the extent Brazil has?

        Not all Indonesians are Muslim: many people in Maluku (since 1999, divided into North and South Maluku provinces) are Christians and they have often been the base for separatist Maluku movements. Over 1999 – 2002, there was significant conflict between Muslims and Christians with 9,000 killed and 500,000 displaced. As recently as September 2011, there was violence between Muslims and Christians after some Muslims were duped by a hoax message about a bus driver being tortured by Christians. The Indonesian military currently monitors the Maluku Sovereignty Front for stockiling weapons and flying the flag of the Republic of South Maluku / Republik Maluku Selatan.

        A secessionist movement in Acheh did exist until 2005 when Acheh and the Indonesian government reconciled their differences after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. So things are looking sweet but it might take another major disaster to change attitudes, especially if it’s a disaster associated with the government or military and it ends up being ignored or swept aside.

        The Free Papua Movement / Organisasi Papua Merdeka has been operating in Papua and West Papua provinces (formerly known collectively as Irian Jaya) since 1965. (Source: Wikipedia)

        I don’t know about other parts of Indonesia; in some parts of the country it’s probably considered uncouth or dangerous to say anything openly negative about Jakarta to foreigners. The Balinese are famous for always appearing content and serene with their lives but who knows what they really think?

        As for Australia’s population, the government under Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister a couple of years ago did indicate it would be comfortable with a population maximum of 39 million by 2030 (I think) and so far I have not seen anything by the current Gillard government indicating anything different.

        Argentina’s population is about the same size as Canada’s at present? If there are economic and political problems in Spain and Italy, there’s the possibility people in those countries could flee to Argentina; Argentina has a large mixed Italian-Spanish population and a fellow at work who speaks Spanish and does some Spanish-to-English translation work on the side says Argentine culture and language carry heavy Italian influence.

        • Java is culturally like Brazil and its population is not much smaller. It also has the majority of the Indonesian population. The other Islands are politically more colonies of Java than departments of Indonesia so finding discontent isn’t that hard.

          The trouble on Maluku was between Muslims and Protestants. I know that Catholics aren’t Christians according to some Chinese Protestants but IIRC they were hardly involved.

          • Charly,

            Based on your reply, I’ll go with a scenario of a future Indonesia without Papua province (which might join the independent PNG) and south Maluku (which would be a small independent country like East Timor). Any Javanese or other migrants living in the breakaway provinces would move to West Papua province (this is the extreme western part of the island that includes Bird’s Head peninsula and a few surrounding areas) or North Maluku.

            Acheh might still be part of the reduced Indonesia or it might be independent. There’s still a possibility of either Malaysia, Singapore or Brunei expanding into parts of Sumatra or Kalimantan. Maybe they’ll all even agree to be one country with Indonesia if Singapore can’t maintain its ethnic Chinese majority. Such a country or at the very least a political or economic federation with Malay as a common language, moderate Islam a common religion and room for Chinese, Indian and European minorities to play outsider entrepreneurial roles in business, science and culture could be a future superpower. Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines become buffer states between this new superpower and China.

            I just had a quick look at Wikipedia to check population figures for Argentina and Canada and found that the 2010 figure quoted for Argentina is just over 40 million and the 2011 figure for Canada is under 35 million. We’re talking here about Canada being a future power but not about Argentina being one too! If there is political and economic collapse in the US and Europe, a likely scenario is that several million Americans flee to Canada and several millions of Spanish, Italians and possibly French and Romanians flee to Argentina. (Even some British may go there as historical connections between Britain and Argentina exist; the famous writer Jorge Luis Borges was part-English and British money helped to build the economy and a railway network in the 19th century.) As Brazil becomes the dominant power in the South Atlantic region and extends its influence to Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Mozambique, the other countries in South America are likely to try to counter Brazil’s influence and Argentina is the obvious choice by virtue of its population size and proximity to Brazil to lead a coalition.

            There’s also the possibility of several million British and Americans fleeing to Australia which has physical advantages that Canada doesn’t have: temperate climates, lots of beaches and geographic isolation. If people miss the snow and high mountains, New Zealand is only a 2-hour flight away from Sydney and Melbourne. If population size is a base for economic growth and superpower status, we can’t always assume populations and population growth in future will be based on what they are now.

            • If Malaysia can get Indonesian Borneo than Indonesia can get Malaysian Borneo. Seeing the size the population of Java i wouldn’t bet on Malaysia. Brunei doesn’t border on Indonesia and that is for them a very good thing (see for example East Timor and Irian Jaya). A unified Malayan would want to include parts of Thailand and the Philippines and they would probably get its way.

              There is a big conflict between the Indians and the White Spanish speakers in South America. I can’t see how Argentina can lead the Indians as Argentinians think of themself as having exterminated the Indians. (not true, they have a lot of Indian blood in them). Brazil only needs to give a little bit of a push to get that ball rolling to get the Indian states on its side

              Australia doesn’t have a temperate climate outside of Tasmania and has serious problems with caring capacity. getting more people to live there may be difficult.

              • Charly,

                I live in Sydney and it’s pretty temperate most of the time here. Maximum temperatures have been in the low 20s at present: unusual for summer when they are usually in a range of high 20s – mid 30s. Melbourne tends to have a slightly more extreme range of temperatures but is still considered temperate. Perth and Adelaide enjoy a Mediterranean-style climate and Brisbane is sub-tropical. Northern parts of the country are tropical and subject to annual monsoons. True, carrying capacity is low – the country wouldn’t be able to sustain more than 50 million – but that’s assuming we continue to live wastefully the way we do now and don’t invest in solar energy and other renewable energy technologies.

                Sydney is about the same latitude south of the equator as Buenos Aires and as they are on the eastern sides of continents they probably enjoy similar climates: sunny and often humid in summer, temperate, sometimes even cold, in winter.(Cities on the western sides of continents at the same latitude south or north have a drier, sunnier climate: this is due to patterns of global wind and ocean currents.)

                I don’t know how people identify themselves in Argentina as the history of white-vs-native relations in that country is complex and people may have different definitions of who is Indian, who is white and who is mestizo. This might be reflected in official definitions of race which are sometimes more about culture and lifestyle choice than about physical appearance. Also defining your ethnic identity is less and less something arbitrary that government authorities do to you and increasingly a matter of wanting to identify with a particular group out of pride. Anyway, I only had in mind coalitions of nations working together, sort of like ASEAN, to counter Brazilian power in a soft way in a co-operative spirit. No need for take-overs or invasions!

                I do not know if Malaysia would take over Muslim parts of Thailand and Philippines by force; more likely Thailand and Philippines would be happy to give these areas to Malaysia and be rid of the fractious populations there! As for whether Malaysia would dominate Indonesia or vice versa, it would depend more on skilful politicking and diplomacy and which country has the stronger and more democratic institutions. They could also just form a loose political federation with Brunei.

              • Sydney has about the same latitude as Beirut. As a European that isn’t a temperate climate but i wont argue about that.

                ps. If i read the wikipedia page correctly than Sydney has never experienced a day below zero.

                About Malaysia taking over Southern Thailand. Wouldn’t be a problem except other parts of Thailand are not completely sure of being Thai. Especially the Thai themself

              • i dont think malaysia would receive parts of thailand and philippines. nor will the two countries give parts of their territories to any country in particular.

                in fact, i think phil will even get part of malaysia (sabah) probably judging from the current state of developments with the two countries.

                im from SEA by the way.

  25. I tried 3 times to write a comment. I found this just a ramble. There is no substantive detail to justify any of this. Indeed, CANADA? hardly, by 2050 the population of Australia is tipped to pass that of Canada, indeed, the economy of Australia is tipped to pass Canada in the next FIVE years. Any way, in the context of time, does it really matter?

    • Ian,

      Quite possible actually. A book has already been written that suggests Canada could be a superpower by 2050: this is Lawrence C Smith’s “The World in 2050: Four Forces shaping Civilisation’s Northern Future”. Climate change is predicted to open up the Northwest Passage as a major shipping route and with it several Canadian ports such as Churchill in western Hudson Bay. Possibly lands currently under ice or considered remote from major population centres will become suited for agriculture, mining or other development as a result of rising mean or median temperatures. Most predictions about Canada becoming a superpower revolve around its capacity to supply energy to other countries; currently Canada is the 5th largest energy producer in the world.

      If the US were to collapse, parts of that country might join Canada. One scenario is that British Columbia in Canada joins Washington state and Oregon in the US to form an independent country.

      As for the context of time, a question I might ask of you is: What year were you born in? No, don’t answer: that’s a rhetorical question. If you were born in 1980, your life expectancy (if you were born in a First World country) would be around 75 years so you could live to the year 2055. Plenty of time between 2011 and 2055 for world politics and economy to change. It was about 20 years that the Soviet Union collapsed and several new countries declared their independence or had independence thrust on them.

      Don’t always assume countries’ borders will look the same as they did 20 years.

      • And in fact, Canada was once projected to be the dominant power in the Northern Hemisphere, based on population growth and industrialization. The United States passed it and never looked back, and now has a population roughly 10 times that of Canada.

        Where the situation changed once, it can change again, and a lot of factors influence national dominance. Energy is a big one. I personally believe Canada, while it might grow considerably beyond what it is now, will not supplant the USA as superpower in the foreseeable future – because Canada appears content for its energy supply to serve U.S. objectives and plans and to let those objectives be dictated by its more powerful neighbour. A hardline nationalist Canadian government might change things there, but that, too, is unlikely as Canadians and Americans are not really very different.

        Explosive population growth in Australia without a corresponding shift in regional arrangements seems unlikely to me, as Australia is a relatively small country with a relatively limited supply of arable land. Its ability to feed a burgeoning population would thus depend on regional adjustments.

        • Importing food from for example Brazil isn’t that hard but the big problem with Australia is that it isn’t on the international trade routes which makes getting industry to locate to you hard. There is also the question of population. Sydney and Melbourne are simply to small to get the network effect of megacities.

          • Mark and Charly make good comments about Australia’s present situation as is. In the past Australia did have considerable manufacturing industry but most of it was foreign-owned, particularly by Japanese firms. Federal and state governments though used to have wangle huge incentives in the millions of dollars to get companies like Mitsubishi and Toyota to keep factories in Adelaide and Melbourne going.

            Most international trade routes do bypass Australia. It shouldn’t take too much imagination on our part though to get plane trade routes over Antarctica to connect with South America and trade with Brazil. We already have small communities of Argentines, Chileans and Brazilians living in Australia. (A cousin of mine is married to an Argentinian whose family came to Sydney and Queensland in the late 1970s, during the period of military rule. Many Chileans came to Australia during the Pinochet years.) Brazilians seem to like the beach culture and weather here and there is much less crime, poverty and police thuggery than in many Brazilian cities.

            We do have to think about how to use our arable land and water resources better than we do at present. Over the last 20 years Australia has been producing and exporting rice to most parts of Asia, parts that should be growing their own. Rice is grown mainly in the southeast part of the country and has to be irrigated. We’re the major source of Japan’s rice imports and before 2008, when Australian rice production collapsed because of a drought, we were exporting something like 85% of our rice to about 70 markets throughout the world. We’re also a major exporter of cotton, another water-hungry crop needing irrigation and grown in the same areas where rice is grown. No wonder the major rivers in SE Australia are all but dried up!!!

            In an age where global networks and connections are what make the world go around, and speed and data-carrying capacity are paramount, do we really need megacities? Decentralised population centres might be the way to go. It’s arguable that the cities most likely to foster creativity, cultural / business / scientific innovation and entrepreneurialism, and thus be the source of future growth, would be middle-sized cities. What constitutes a middle-sized city might vary from one country to another but in the United States, say, that might be 2 million clustered around a major university.

    • The main logic behind my appraisal of Canada’s prospects is (1) the assumption that AGW will progress at a rapid rate, at or beyond the IPCC’s higher-end scenarios – an assumption that most of the recent research backs up – and (2) observing that it has a lot of land and resources that are currently inaccessible due to adverse climatic conditions that will change for the better as warming progresses. It is also tied in with the same observation that adverse trends elsewhere – both due to the effects of AGW, as well as exhaustion of resources in the currently accessible areas – will increasingly affect sub-polar regions in a negative way. This means that Canada’s relative power will grow far faster even than its absolute power.

  26. hello!,I love your writing very so much! percentage we keep up a correspondence extra about your post on AOL? I need an expert on this area to solve my problem. May be that’s you! Taking a look ahead to look you.

  27. Globalisation is a realty.as we have seen in the past few years,a colapse in one major economy produced a domino effect.the USA even 50 yrs from now will be a very large economy.the world would have three major power centres in 2050 namely usa with most of western europe and its other allies,china and india.the three combined would have 55-60% share of world gdp and 40-45% of the world population.the relations between the three will shape the next 50 years.if any one of them colapse then they would inevitably take the whole world with them.i see a future with no single absolute superpower but 3 different power centres

  28. The days of superpowers are numbered in that nations who share a small planet cannot afford the turbulence that back yard bullies create without being crushed under the weight of its aggression. Superpowers thinking helps to fuel that tendency, and feeds the aggression.

    America, like other nations – pre-World War I and II, (and all others), must find a path to peace, or the world will die trying, literally. No nation can afford the luxury of its past complacency that allows backyard bullies, even if that backyard is their own land, and their own nation with respect to how it relates to other nations and lands. There is simply not enough land mass in any nation to justify creating havoc for other nations. Where no man is an island, no nation can afford the pretense of being an island either, for to do so, and allow its companies, foundation, businesses, and multinationals to do so is running with breakneck speed into the old dilemmas of the past during the age of Golden Empire, Rome and Greece, both of whom are mankind’s best example of poor premise for being, humanity run amok.

    Mankind must do better or follow the same crippled pathway to the historic experience as it has been reported, the long slide down, not the leap forward. Finding the origins of its conflicts is fully within the realm of potential of each nation, or with allies, but have we the humility to bring about this internal strife, the conflicts within ourselves, which prevents the world from melding, and relies upon wars and destruction for survival in any given age?

    If there is to be a new golden age, it will not occur by accident, nor by the mytique of religion, but by slogging through the mud of mankind’s own frailty to grow up and deal realistically and rationally with identiified problems in a rationa manner. Is any nation capable of it, or are we mere neanderthal uprights in disguise hoping to pass as civil and educated people? If anyone has answers, it’s a good time be heard. We know the problem; we just have deferred the solutions.

  29. que bosta!

  30. I think you forgot some thing, Populations can do much more than you think , Japan has a population of over 110 mil and its area is 1/10th of The area of India , Judging from that , A nation like China or India can sustain a population of 1.2-1.5 bil . They can ,Easily . And also you are undermining the power of a hundred years , Technology can change everything bro , And the more human capital your nation has, The more that nation will rise in terms of GDP if they are equally developed .
    So here’s what i think , they real key here is innovation and China is doing that pretty well . In a hundred years , people will have everything under renewable resources , Both India and China are one of the highest renewable resources producing nations in the world . In fact 25 % of India’s power is hydro electric . Also man , I think large nations will be very successful in the future as they have vast land and reserves of energy .
    In my opinion , its also mega business coorperations which will define or play a major role in this , Today oil and Gas companies are the greatest . but then Solar companies or such other as may arrive while be the greatest . So they companies will hold the future .
    If you ask me, I see a lot of potential in Africa too , Africa will the highest growing in the 21st century in terms of percentage growth , Arfica is almost 4 times larger than the Entire Europe in Land .
    Plus Africa has huge population and some of its nations are huge . Also don’t ignore Brazil , Its one of he major economies nowadays .
    But who knows what the future holds , but in my opinion , The innovation is the key and the nation which fuels the best innovations is likely to win .

  31. abe saloo kuch bhi dalo mat .

  32. Future Hero says:

    You can see how much terrified is United States of losing its Superpower Status and that’s why it has shifted its focus to the middle east and robbing their oil, killing their people, branding innocent Muslims as terrorists thus doing every single effort to divert its attention from such insane activities. Along with Israel, Britain and France its plotting a plot to bring the Arab states down and filling its oil reserves with this robbed oil so that it can sell this robbed oil to other nations when they need at very high prices and once in a while it keeps waging war against the poor states so that the army doesn’t go out of practice and their weapons dont get blunt.

  33. Some Australian here always lookdown to Indonesia, If you think Indonesia is only dependent on foreign aid, you are absolutely wrong!. And, if you think West Papua is the most resource-rich province in Indonesia, again you are a big big mistake!. Provinces with the richest resources in Indonesia are East Kalimantan and Riau!. In fact, their per capita GDP is comparable to the United States!, about US$ 45.000 per head per year!.

  34. Russia can never become a Superpower leaving the three rest of the world in the 21st Century.

  35. This article suggests that there would be no major war for the next 90 years.simply impossible.and canada??if 300 million americans line up at the canadian border and pee together ,entire canada would be washed out by a massive flood.as far as china is concerned,even north korea does not respect it leave aside other asian nations.in the past manufacturing shifted from europe to china.when chinese labour starts becoming expensive it will shift to india after that to africa.china has too few friends and is surrounded by very extremely strong millitary powers russia to the north,japan to the north east usa to the far east of chinese coast and india to the south.its agression if it dares to show will have very severe consequences as these 4 nations will be its four largest trading partners for the foreseable future.us deplomacy and indian navy could easily cut off its oil supply in a war situation.china’s future is most likely to be a combination of what happened to japan and ussr in the 90’s .as for russia,the advent of shale gas will push oil prices much lower negating its advantage.it will however stay a great power.india will probably become a rich country of relatively poor people.my bet for the future is that even if india and china become larger economies than the usa,the latter will still enjoy the status of being a technological and diplomatic superpower.europe, middle east,africa,south america will always remain under influence of the other major powers.the 21st century will see 3 great powers namely china,india,usa and many regional great powers.i see no superpower similar to what the usa was in the 1990’s by the end of the 21’st century.this is because these three great power economies will be so intertwined that it would be an economic suiside to wage a war.that is the biggest benifit globalisation will bring.we will see democratisation of global power.

  36. Don’t worry, Nothing will go bad. by 2040 or coming years we will have visitors from other planets that could help us if we were in bad situtation. Also USA have more then 100 secrets that nobody knows e.g. the Area 51 nobody knows what they do there, it can be the aliens havin meetings with Obama or it could be the new High-tech planes or war things.

  37. Most of the western people see Russia being #1 in the world in their nightmares, they even more likely would prefer to give away the leadership to China if nothing left. Western propoganda works really well, makes douchebags with dogmatic thinking out of people…

  38. The analysis has some elements of truth and it may be better than the analysis of more famous authors, however it has some weak points:

    1. It is static, you simply create an evaluation function and then evaluate statically based on this. You need a dynamic analysis based on scenarios, and only at the end of each high probability scenario to apply your static evaluation function based on some characteristics.
    Like in chess, you need to create scenarios and then evaluate the position at the end of a high probability variation. If you try to apply the evaluation function in a static way, based on the current structure of the board, it will not work out well. All these variations need to take in account factors such as wars and possible creation or breakups of states and political structures, alliances, etc and only after that you can use an evaluation function. All these effects had dramatic impact on the 20th century.
    2. The relative value of these characteristics that weight your evaluation is also dynamic, it is not static.
    3. The possible structural outcomes are vast , from a one world government to a very strict nation based government. You do not seem to try to predict the changes in boundaries to much.
    4. You seem not to take in account scientific creativity and production at this time to much in account.
    5. You take as a undisputable scientific fact the hard version of global worming, which is just a scientific hypothesis. Even if could happen this it is not clear if it will be so strong as to affect the world in this way.
    6. You postulate that OIL and gas will remain main sources of energy for the world, which is not necesarilly true, it is a big assumption, considering that technological predictions have been so difficult over the time.
    7. The prediction is somehow to deterministic, like in a dialectical theory, it does not use take in account the population basis, the size , not only its quantity. Also the ability to produce and work together is significant, not only potential talent, or maximum talent a national is capable of. Russia as it is now, in order to be stable depends on the talent of its leadership, which is not guaranteed to be also in the future. Also many scientists seem to leave Russia and the wealth of the country is hardly distributed by merit, so it is unlikely that a scientific base will easily develop in Russia in the midd-range future.

    I have to say that your analysis seems better than what one finds in the news and better than that of many professional futurologists but it leaves these important elements out.

    best regards
    Alex

  39. Max Plithides says:

    I would like to throw out a few thoughts here about what as see as the major flaws in this view, but first, I’d like to compliment you first, you clearly have a very strong grasp of international relations. Now, I’d like to offer some criticism, and get your feedback, so that hopefully we can both become better forecasters.

    Your grasp of the science of climate change and IR theory seems very good, but your understanding of the macroeconomics is flawed.

    Unfortunately, you ignore transportation costs. The ability of a country to generate excess investment capital domestically is almost entirely dependent on its ability to maintain low transportation costs. If you look at transportation costs in the U.S., you see that bulk transporting goods via water three times cheaper (i’m rounding to make the numbers neat) than transporting them via rail, and thirty times cheaper than transporting them via truck. This particularly important for China, as in recent years we’ve seen booming growth within one hundred miles of the coast, but that growth just can’t seem to move in-land further. Whereas the U.S. had the Mississippi river basin, China’s rivers are not navigable making it difficult for people in in-land China to develop the same way the coast has by beginning with low-end manufacturing and then seeking to move up the value-added chain. This means that China’s huge population has essentially become a weight around its neck, because it has to continually, inefficiently transfer wealth from the coastal regions to the interior to calm dissent. The way it does this is by encouraging state owned enterprises to move in-land and then employ people at a loss. This means that profit margins for those firms are razor-thin. When you compound that with the fact that the Chinese government estimates 40% of loans in China are non-performing, and you see an economic correction is coming. The mistake you make with regards to this is the same as most people in that you project straight lines based on current growth.

    Also, your point about China’s intellectual capital is well-taken; however, those people don’t want to work in China, and the states emphasis on employment rather than profitability in firms discourages the type of innovation which leads to break-through technologies. That’s not to say, the Chinese aren’t innovative, but it’s difficult to get funding for some new start up in China because capital allocation is not based on market forces, and existing firms don’t prioritize R&D.

    These economic problems mean China’s likely to be inwardly focused in the next decade or so, and even if it wished to project power, its economic problems are likely to undermine its ability to spend on power projection capabilities. This problem is compounded by China’s geography. It costs the U.S. more per year to deploy one carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf then it costs it to keep three in Norfolk in order to patrol the Atlantic. This is because it is inherently less expensive to control a sea one lives on. Thus, it will be difficult for China to project power out of the immediate vicinity of the Western Pacific.

    None of this is to say that China will not still be a great power, and a force to be reckoned with. It will certainly be more powerful than Japan; however, it will be a great power in Asia, not a global superpower, and it will be heavily involved dealing with its internal problems which are brought on by a fundamental quirk of geography (that China is easily politically unified, but lacks economic linkages between the coast and interior).

    Second, on Brazil, you ignore the effect of bottlenecks. The grand escarpment on the cost limits port-loading capacity, which makes it difficult for Brazil to export cheaply in bulk, and its participation in Mercoser has hollowed out the competitiveness of its manufacturing sector with the exception of those companies which do business in U.S. dollars. However, Brazil’s prospects are much better than China’s, and there’s no reason these issues can’t be overcome, but they will slow Brazil’s ascent. Still, there is no other South American power which can challenge Brazil for regional hegemony.

    Also, you are too quick to dismiss Mexico, resource scarcity in foodstuffs and water are only a crippling factor when a country is A. exceedingly poor which Northern and Central Mexico are not, and B. when a country doesn’t have hydrocarbons which provide capital which could potentially be invested into water and food production since both are merely products of energy inputs. Global Warming will make those inputs greater, but the planet is 70% water. There is no shortage of water, just a shortage of capital in some countries to get water.

    You also dismiss Indonesia too quickly. It and India are fundamentally different. Indonesia’s population is clustered along the coasts making it easy for it to cheaply export to the rest of the world. It’s problem has historically been that its myriad of ethnic groups have required strong central authority to control. However, stability is not a prerequisite to attract FDI (China in 1978 is a perfect example). Indonesia could very easily fall into the middle-income trap given its myriad internal problems which may force it to prioritize things other than profitability, but I just don’t know enough about Indonesia to say that. At the very least, its future is considerably brighter than India’s. I feel like Indonesia is most overlooked rising power.

    Next, India will not be a great power. Its growth profile in recent years hasn’t been particularly diversified, and too much of the economic decision-making is based at the local-level. This isn’t likely to be changed for political reason which are the result of Indian history. If you’d like to discuss this in more detail just tell me.

    I liked what you said about Russia, it was quite insightful, and I agree, I have yet to here a coherent explanation of how demographic decline undermines a country’s ability to export hydrocarbons, given that doing so relatively little labor compared to other economic activities.

    On Canada, the U.S. defacto controls Canada now. Its provinces are more economically integrated with the U.S. than each other, and the U.S. army dominates North America. It only doesn’t control it politically because i the status quo that would cost more than the U.S. would gain, but assuming hydrocarbon resources became so important to national power, the U.S. would almost surely either take political control over Canada or simply dictate pricing to it. That’s not a black swan event, that’s common sense. For this reason, I believe you analysis in fact point to the reemergence of bipolar world headed by Russia and the U.S., not to the emergence of Canada.

    Lastly, I’d like to hear your thoughts on possible alternative energy sources, and the likelihood of their development. For example, when I debated, we used to commonly discuss solar-powered satellites beaming microwave energy, and I know stratfor is a big fan of this. What do you say?

  40. MD SAIFUR RAHMAN says:

    In fact, the pinnacle of waves of World economical growths will not remain fixed at any region but will be shifting by very long period of time, its a reality. But some countries could be able to remain stable over the period.

  41. o Canadá super potência ta e brabo ! kkkkkkkk enquanto o Canadá ficar na tutela dos Estados Unidos não vai a lugar nenhum ! Eu apostaria muito mais na Austrália do que no Canadá . E quase impossível o Brasil e a Índia voltar para obscuridade , esses gigantes emergentes tem população e tamanho para se manter no topo . E ao contrario do Canadá por exemplo esses países tem muito mais independência externa e desempenha um papel muito mais atuante e agressivo no cenário mundial do que o Canadá por exemplo !

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