Why the next decade is so important
The second element of the logic as to why we have only about ten years or so to get our act together is that, if we do not, then soon after that time we can reasonably expect the Three-Strikes rule to come into effect. Given current trends, food scarcity caused by aquifer depletion and other water shortages are likely to begin to cause disruption in around fifteen years’ time. But only five years after that, oil-restrictions combined with collapses in fish-stocks are set to coincide with a massively-increased world population demanding ever-more from those diminishing resources. Five years would be too short a time to steer away from the inevitable crash from Competitive Overuse.
Anyway, long before that there are likely to be other major crises. The international community will be lucky if a religion-inspired crisis, such as another terrorist-attack comparable to 9/11, can be averted for as long as even ten years from now. Hopefully the next dangerous pandemic and the next global economic crisis (as opposed to the continuation of the current one) will not occur until at least then – nor will any major natural disaster hit a large city directly. And hopefully, widespread cyberattacks via the internet will continue to be held in check, as will antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
Combining all these threats, a reasonable working estimate is that one way or another the world economy may have around ten to twenty years before three or more extreme crises risk all hitting at the same time from substantially different directions and swamp the ability of governments and corporations to respond effectively. It could happen within only the next five-to-ten years – but that would mean we had been unlucky. It is also possible that there will not be three major parallel crises until twenty years or more from now – but on the world-economy’s current course that seems overly optimistic. Naturally, it is not ‘all or nothing’. More-minor crises should be manageable in greater numbers. And even in ten years’ time the international community will still have plenty of opportunity to reinforce further and refine any changes in direction that are underway. But by then it will be too late to begin the process of a major change in direction.