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spawned a range of challenges that, paradoxically, will have to be solved through appropriate investments in research:

  • To maintain its current rate of growth, by 2020 China will need to boost energy consumption by 150%, and India will need to do so by 100%.60 It will be essential to develop clean, affordable, and reliable energy.

  • The increased movement of people around the world will lead to more outbreaks of communicable diseases. Meanwhile, aging populations will require new treatments for chronic diseases.

  • As the means to develop weapons of mass destruction become more widely available, security measures must advance.

  • In an increasingly interconnected economy, even small disruptions to communications, trade, or financial flows can have major global consequences. Methods to manage complex systems and respond quickly to emergencies will be essential.

The strains of managing global growth will require global collaboration. Around the world, the growing scale and sophistication of science and technology mean that we are much more likely to be able to solve those and other problems that will confront us. Advances in information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology will improve life for billions of people. The leadership of the United States in science and technology will make a critical contribution to those efforts and will benefit the lives of Americans here at home. Each challenge offers an opportunity for the United States to position itself as the leader in the markets that will be created for solutions to global challenges in such fields as energy, healthcare, and security.

It is important to recognize that all nations in the global economy are now inextricably linked. Just as global health, environmental, and security issues affect everyone, so are we all dependent on the continued growth of other economies. It is clearly in America’s interest for China, India, the EU, Japan, and other nations to succeed. Their failure would pose a far greater threat to US prosperity and security than would their success. In the global economy, no nation can prosper in isolation. However, it is the thesis of this report that it is important that such global prosperity be shared by the citizens of the United States.


National Intelligence Council. Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project. Pittsburgh, PA: Government Printing Office, December 2004. P. 62.

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