Beddington: World faces perfect storm in 2030

In a statement which has already gotten much press elsewhere, the UK’s chief scientist Prof. John Beddington suggests we face a “perfect storm”of crisis drivers by 2030.

The Guardian reports, 

A “perfect storm” of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration as people flee from the worst-affected regions, the UK government’s chief scientist will warn tomorrow.

“We head into a perfect storm in 2030, because all of these things are operating on the same time frame,” Beddington told the Guardian.

“If we don’t address this, we can expect major destabilisation, an increase in rioting and potentially significant problems with international migration, as people move out to avoid food and water shortages,” he added.

It is music to our ears to hear such well placed politicians and scientists reflecting the realities of tomorrow’s complex, interlinked and massively vulnerable world.



2 Responses to Beddington: World faces perfect storm in 2030

  1. At a time or worldwide recession, it is useful and important to reflect on the larger macro forces for change that will be with us long after the global economy recovers. This is indeed a sobering, even depressing, perspective. But other than death and taxes, few things are inevitable about the future, and planning for inevitable disaster is not a fruitful enterprise. We will not wake up one morning and suddenly find ourselves in a 2030 catastrophic situation. We will, fortunately, receive some warning shots, which themselves might prove enormously destructive and destabilizing to some regions. But threat will catalyze positive and ultimately effective responses, I believe. What keeps me up at night worrying is an exchange of nuclear weapons, possibly even begun accidentally. I am pretty certain that good science and noble people can eventually cope with food, natural resource and climate issues. It’s the unpredictability of human behavior combined with the sheer destructive potential of WMDs that I find so incredibly terrifying.

  2. Noah says:

    Peter, I enjoy your balanced perspective. It is true, threats bring both new crises and new opportunities. I also share you sentiment that the most dangerous threat we face is our own poor understanding and erratic behaviour. Not that a purely rational society would be free from such threats (or a fun place to live), but the problems of the 21st century do some more social than technological. Thanks very much for your comment.

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