Five Geopolitical Scenarios to Consider

(Please note, because of the time that has passed since I wrote this article, it may no longer reflect my current views or the most accurate and complete information available on this subject.)

Needing more generatorsFrom the "I hope it doesn't happen but wouldn't be surprised if it did" department, I have some predictions and scenarios to throw out there about stuff that could happen sometime in the rest of 2008. I suppose this is mostly just a mental exercise for me, but maybe it'll spark some interesting comments/responses:

  1. The price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the U.S. will hit $6 a gallon sometime this Summer, and perhaps $10/gallon or more by the end of the year. Measures will be taken by the federal and state governments to temporarily alleviate the financial burden on some people, but nothing sustainable. Some people will not be able to get to work at all, while others will have to carpool more, take the bus, ride their bikes, and walk.
  2. The U.S. will initiate military action against Iran, probably in the form of heavy air-strikes. There will be no clear notion of victory or desired outcome other than to significantly destroy the country's own infrastructure, especially targets related to nuclear facilities. This action might be justified to the American people by...
  3. An apparent attack on one or more U.S. locations, resulting in significant loss of life or infrastructure.
  4. The U.S. airline industry will significantly cut back or even cease flight schedules as we've known them, and air travel will (once again) become a privilege reserved for the rich and famous who can afford private flights. Any frequent flier miles you've accumulated will become worth near nothing.
  5. Most grocery stores will significantly scale back their inventories and restocking schedules, and significantly raise prices on what remains. Obtaining food from non-local sources, even basic staples, will be difficult at best, and most communities will begin to take emergency steps to feed their residents.

Hey, look, I don't like the thought of these things happening any more than the next person, but perhaps there's some value in naming what might be, even if it seems a bit outlandish or gruesome. Maybe if we believe these things are possible, we might feel more prepared to prevent or deal with them if they do happen.

What do you think? Too cynical? Worse? What are some other scenarios?

2 thoughts on “Five Geopolitical Scenarios to Consider

  1. Wow ... having a pessimistic evening are we? Interestingly enough I just finished blogging about the impact of rising fuel costs right before reading this post.

    I think the take-home point from all this is that our society really doesn't like the notion of having to change the way we live due to forces beyond our own personal control. People don't want to change their driving habits, so they just complain about how much more expensive it is now. The same is true for eating and food-buying. People are used to driving to the closest fast food chain or mega-mart and stocking up on anything they want, regardless of whether it's healthy or in season.

    As long as consumer credit is relatively easy to come by there will be many folks who try and go on as if real change isn't necessary as they hide behind their credit cards. The damage this will do will be increased tremendously because of the fact our society frowns upon talking openly and honestly about financial difficulty. Eventually people will find themselves maxed out and bankrupt, or the overinflated consumer credit system will crash, or both. (See, I can be a pessimist too!)

    Of course, there will be some folks who recognize that living in the same way we've grown accustomed to may no longer be possible. These folks will begin to make changes in their routines, some large, some small, but changes nonetheless. They'll plant gardens, ride bikes, buy locally, carpool, and seek out other like-minded folks for support. The big difference here is this group is willing to alter their lifestyles due to changing realities instead of sticking their heads in the sand and running head-first into bankruptcy and claiming they could do nothing about it.

    I guess we'll just have to do what we can to be a part of this latter group, and to help others do the same.

  2. Of all your scenarios, I think the $6.00 gas is the most likely. I doubt there will be a significant military action against Iran nor an attack on the US - I think that there is sufficient chaos in the world at this point to stifle any big new endeavors.
    I think we are entering a period of uncontrolled and unintended consequence. We will see more "big weather" events and crumpling of the economic framework of our society. There will be a lot of watching, but "doing" will be much more risky.
    It is not that people don't want to change, it is just that the power to change is beyond us collectively. We will continue on in our car-driving, TV-watching, free-spending ways and fully expect that things will stop going wrong. Or to put it in a different way, we will continue to do the same things we always have (traditional values) and continue to expect different results - the definition of insanity.
    New Orleans is a good example: The scientists were clear - everyone knew a Cat-5 storm going up the river would destroy the city - people talked about it all the time down there. But life continued there undaunted, until it didn't.
    People have very short memories. Here in the Midwest, we talk about getting back to how things used to be - strong factories that supported thousands of families. However, almost all Midwestern manufacturing was related to the auto industry. These plants have all but closed up, but they really were not here all that long. The heyday lasted from the 1930's to the 1960's, 1970 and beyond has been nothing but closings and devastated communities. That gives you a 30, maybe 40 year run for the industry, hardly a way of life for a community. Despite the brief history of success with manufacturing, Midwestern planners are still stuck hitching their futures to developing more of it. . . .

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