Viridian Note 00217: CIA 2001

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts
Global Trends 2015 report, American intelligence assessments, geopolitics, security issues, Greenhouse Effect, climate change

Attention Conservation Notice: Direct from spook wonkville; over 1,800 words

(((After two weeks' blissful silence from the Viridian Vatican, a number of Viridians have asked whether I survived my New Years' Party. People, you should be grateful to be spared a while. I'm merely taking advantage of the new millennium to upgrade my computer and move onto a new Viridian mail server. Two first-class design nightmares.

(((Other Greens, stricken with a post-Nader hangover and the predictably abject collapse of the Kyoto negotiations, tentatively ask me if they should now commit ritual seppuku. Guys, I'm from Austin. I've been living under a Bush government for years.)))

New Viridian Individual Projects:

From: Crash (*)

"I made this image for Viridian... I got inspired. I call them the Viridian guerrilla cells. Thanks for adding me to the list. I will try my hardest to come up with creative ideas for Viridian."

From: Jonathan Blocksom (^^*)

"This pic was made by a kid using my 3D modeling program for children, 'GollyGee Blocks.' I put an easter egg in it to add 'Big Mike' as a background texture. Clearly I need to add more Viridian-inspired objects to my program, perhaps a wind turbine and some solar panels.

"If you're curious, you can see some other pics the kids made with the software at:"

Source: x.html

(((This fat CIA document about our future is mightily boring and written in limpid Beltway bureaucratese, so rather than analyze it ourselves, let's see what the British press has to say about it.)))

Source: James Langton, Daily Telegraph

Sunday 31 December 2000

"This is the world in 2015 By James Langton in New York

"Global Trends 2015 == Central Intelligence Agency [CIA]   "THE world is on the brink of a new era that may resemble the script of a James Bond film in which international affairs are increasingly determined by large and powerful organisations rather than governments, according to a study just published by the CIA in Washington. ((("Paging Felix Leiter == it's that nice Mr Blofeld from SPECTRE on line two." This scenario doesn't really have much to do with such corny high-60s fantasies... Basically, it's about the twilight of national sovereignty and the rise of NGOs and PoGos. The CIA is a little worried by this. They don't know how they're gonna get paid.)))

"These could include alliances between some of the most powerful criminal groups such as the Mafia and Chinese triads. Such groups, according to the CIA, 'will corrupt leaders of unstable, economically fragile or failing states, insinuate themselves into troubled banks and businesses, and co-operate with insurgent political movements to control substantial geographic areas'. (((Sure they will. Corruption really is the New Communism. It's got exactly the same problem as Communism, too: a lousy means of production. Corruption is for hopeless, snake-bitten losers. Any place run by a kleptocracy goes broke and stays broke.)))

"The agency adds: 'Their income will come from narcotics trafficking; aliens smuggling; trafficking in women and children; smuggling toxic materials, hazardous wastes, illicit arms, military technologies, and other contraband; financial fraud; and racketeering.' (((Sounds scary, but this is one lousy bunch of jobs. We're talking dope- pushing, toxic trash and prostitution: those are lower than sweatshop labor. Besides, anybody who buys "illicit arms" from a mere gangster is a fool, when he can get top- end NATO arms from the ever-obliging CIA.)))

"The 70-page report, Global Trends 2015, will be required reading for the new president, George W Bush, and his senior policy advisers. (((Some of those senior policy advisers can actually read 70-page reports.))) (...)

"Compiled with help from think tanks in America and the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the report projects a future in which globalisation, whether in the shape of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, giant corporations or terrorist gangs, plays an increasing part in the lives of ordinary people. (((Viridianism is very much a part of this phenomenon, even though we're merely the teensy, no- budget, artsy version of an emergent globalized giant corporate-terrorist gang.)))

   "'Governments will have less and less control over flows of information, technology, diseases, migrants, arms, and financial transactions, whether licit or illicit,' it concludes. (((If only Iran-Contra had succeeded, we've have an offshore, fully-globalized CIA working right now. It would be entirely free of any national oversight, it would run out of secret banks, and it would support itself by selling arms to Iraq to sow harbor mines in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, this Ollie North outfit would have decayed very quickly into a simple arms-smuggling mafia, because there is no reason at all to play ideological patriot games when you have no national base.)))

   "In addition to confronting the growing economic and military power of China and India (((that Sino-Indian Peril stuff sounds pretty impressive except in Tibet or Kashmir))) and the continuing decline of Russia, (((the Russians are the Vanguard of Mankind in every downside scenario))) the CIA says: 'Between now and 2015 terrorist tactics will become increasingly sophisticated and designed to achieve mass casualties.' (((You might read that statement as "formerly sophisticated national intelligence apparats will decline to the bush-league level of terrorists.")))

   "In particular it notes the growing threat of biological and chemical weapons and 'suitcase' nuclear devices against the United States. (((So it's the "War on Suitcases." Great. Compare travelling through the EU to crossing the American border today. With its corny paper declarations and useless, paranoid border guards, the USA comes across like a giant, hick Ruritania.)))

(...) Elsewhere, the world population will grow by more than one billion, to 7.2 billion, (((yike!))) most of the increase coming in the mega-cities of the developing world. In Europe and Japan, an ageing population and static birthrate means that allowing more immigration may be the only way of meeting a chronic shortage of workers. (((Bright news: should be plenty of terrified refugees around from places that aren't the G-7.)))

   "The gloomiest predictions are reserved for Africa, where Aids, famine, and continuing economic and political turmoil means that populations in many countries will actually fall. (((Incredible. And it's not just AIDS, but TB, malaria, Ebola, drought, and giant Mozambican tempests. Looks like Africa threw away its James Bond book. It took its futurist scenario right out of Paul Ehrlich's "Population Bomb.")))

   "On the other hand, there is good news on energy supplies. (((Sorta.)))) 'Energy resources will be sufficient to meet demand,' the study says. (((Unless you're Californian.))) The CIA report is most optimistic on the world economy, which it says has a potential for growth not seen since the 1960s. Computer technology represents 'the most significant global transformation since the Industrial Revolution'. (((Well, we've got the traditional gray skies, sweatshops, and slums covered, anyhow.)))

   "At the same time, genetically modified crops will offer the potential to improve nutrition among the world's one billion malnourished people. (((Why is it that rich people never want to eat this stuff? Let's see the Davos Forum sit down to a tasty banquet of genetically altered "Golden Rice."))) China's economy will grow to overtake Europe as the world's second largest but still behind the United States. Russia's economy will contract to barely a fifth of America's. (((2015 news headline: "Trouble Erupts on German-Chinese Border."))) (...)

"The new survey suggests a number of alternative scenarios, none of which makes happy reading. (((Happy Scenario #1: CIA Abolished.))) These include a trade war between Europe and America, (((hokum))) and an alliance between terrorist organisations to attack the West. (((Okay, fine, a terrorist attack. Then what? It's not like terrorists can run anything.))) Most alarming of all, it raises the possibility of economic stagnation, followed by America abdicating its role as the world's policeman. ((("New World Disorder." That's all too plausible. Nobody has any idea what a "world policeman" might look like if it lacks a national army.)))

(((For extra credit, here's what the CIA has to say about various green issues, picked out from the murk for us courtesy of the industrious Allen Varney (^*).)))

   "Contemporary environmental problems will persist and in many instances grow over the next 15 years. With increasingly intensive land use, significant degradation of arable land will continue as will the loss of tropical forests. Given the promising global economic outlook, greenhouse gas emissions will increase substantially. The depletion of tropical forests and other species-rich habitats, such as wetlands and coral reefs, will exacerbate the historically large losses of biological species now occurring. (...)

   "Some existing agreements, even when implemented, will not be able by 2015 to reverse the targeted environmental damage they were designed to address. The Montreal Protocol is on track to restore the stratospheric ozone layer over the next 50 years. Nevertheless, the seasonal Antarctic ozone hole will expand for the next two decades == increasing the risk of skin cancer in countries like Australia, Argentina, and Chile == because of the long lag time between emission reductions and atmospheric effects. Important new agreements will be implemented, including, for example, a global treaty to control the worldwide spread of such persistent organic chemicals as DDT and dioxins. Other agreements, such as the Convention on Biodiversity, will fall short in meeting their objectives.

   "Over the next 15 years the pressures on the environment as a result of economic growth will decrease as a result of less energy-intensive economic development and technological advances. For example, increased use of fuel cells and hybrid engines is likely to reduce the rate of increase in the amount of pollution produced, particularly in the transportation sector. Also, increases in the utilization of solar and wind power, advances in the efficiency of energy use, and a shift toward less polluting fuels, such as natural gas, will contribute to this trend.

   "Global warming will challenge the international community as indications of a warming climate == such as meltbacks of polar ice, sea level rise, and increasing frequency of major storms == occur. The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, which mandates emission-reduction targets for developed countries, is unlikely to come into force soon or without substantial modification. Even in the absence of a formal treaty, however, some incremental progress will be made in reducing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

   "Both India and China will actively explore less carbon-intensive development strategies, although they will resist setting targets or timetables for carbon dioxide emission limits.

   "A number of major firms operating internationally will take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

   (((Allen Varney remarks: "That's pretty much it. I wonder what difference the CIA's opinion will make. Best of luck to you, the family, and the Viridian Movement in the new millennium.")))

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