Nuclear War and Extreme Weather Lead List of Top 2018 Threats

January 19th, 2018 - by admin & Reuters & USA Today & The World Economic Forum – 2018-01-19 01:39:09

World Economic Forum Survey Sees More War in 2018

World Economic Forum Survey Sees More War in 2018
Global Risks Perception Survey Shows Mounting Pessimism

Jason Ditz /

(January 17, 2018) — The 13th annual Global Risks Perception Survey was released by the World Economic Forum this week, and shows that among the experts and decision-makers polled, there is a belief that the risk of wars, both limited and major, are both increasing substantially.

Compared to the 2017 version, 79% see an increase in the risk of state-on-state military conflict, 78% see an increased risk of major conflicts drawing major powers, and most predict a broad loss of confidence in multilateral agreements and collective security alliances.

These figures are all even worse when one considers that early 2017 wasn’t exactly a time of boundless optimism in the first place, yet across myriad issues, but particularly fear of wars, the experts are growing far more pessimistic about what is to come.

This perhaps speaks to the way 2017 played out, with huge death tolls in Iraq and Syria, a humanitarian catastrophe continuing to worsen around the war in Yemen, and repeated threats of a nuclear war between the United States and North Korea.

Yet the fear is not just for the worsening of wars already launched, but also fear of new wars, including regional ones with major powers involved. This, as well as pessimism on broadly all other issues, suggests that hopes that cooler heads will ultimately prevail are fading fast, and that there is little faith left that world leaders will stop themselves short of calamitous mistakes.

As Trump Heads to Davos,
Survey Points to Rising Risk of War

Noah Barkin / Reuters

BERLIN (January 17, 2018) – The risk of political and economic confrontations between major powers, including outright military conflicts, has risen sharply, according to a survey released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) days before its annual gathering in Davos.

The Global Risks Report highlighted several top risks for 2018, including environmental threats from extreme weather and temperatures, economic inequalities and cyber attacks.

But most remarkable was the surge in geopolitical concerns after a year of escalating rhetoric between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that has arguably brought the world closer to a nuclear conflict than it has been in decades.

Trump is due to give a speech on the closing day of the WEF, an annual event in the Swiss Alps which runs from Jan. 23-26 and will attract 70 heads of state and government, as well as celebrities, CEOs and top bankers.

The survey of nearly 1,000 experts from government, business, academia and non-governmental organizations showed 93 percent expect a worsening of political or economic confrontations between major powers in 2018, including 40 percent who believe those risks have increased significantly.

Some 79 percent see a heightened risk of state-on-state military conflict. In addition to the threat of a conflict on the Korean peninsula, the report pointed to the risk of new military confrontations in the Middle East.

It cited a rise in “charismatic strongman politics” across the world and said political, economic and environmental risks were being exacerbated by a decline in support for rules-based multilateralism.

The report pointed to Trump’s decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and the TPP trade agreement and his threat to pull out of a deal between Western powers and Iran designed to curb its nuclear program.

“The risks we are trying to grapple with here require multilateral solutions but we are moving in the other direction,” said John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at the consultancy Marsh, which helped compile the report.

While geopolitical worries rose sharply, the environment topped the list of concerns, with extreme weather events seen as the single most prominent risk in 2018 after a year of unusually frequent Atlantic storms, including Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico.

With global growth recovering, concerns about the economy were down sharply. Still, the report described income inequality as a “corrosive problem” in many countries and warned against complacency over the economic environment given high debt levels, low savings rates and inadequate pension provisions.

“A widening economic recovery presents us with an opportunity that we cannot afford to squander, to tackle the fractures that we have allowed to weaken the world’s institutions, societies and environment,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF.

“We must take seriously the risk of a global systems breakdown.”

Nuclear War, Extreme Weather
Top List of 2018 Threats in Global Survey

Kim Hjelmgaard / USA TODAY

(January 17, 2018) — Nuclear war, cyberattacks and environmental disasters top the list of man-made threats to global stability in 2018, according to a survey of 1,000 international leaders from business, government, education and service groups.

Another global financial meltdown, more likely in past years, has ebbed because of economic expansions underway worldwide, the annual World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report found. It was released Wednesday in advance of the forum’s meeting next week in Davos, Switzerland.

Mother Nature topped the most significant risks facing the world for a second year in a row, the survey showed. That includes natural disasters and extreme weather events that human-caused climate change may be abetting.

The risk of nuclear war climbed up the list of concerns as a result of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s tests of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, and President Trump’s bellicose vows to annihilate North Korea if it launches an attack.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the US seeks a diplomatic resolution in the nuclear standoff with North Korea, but he’s declining to comment on whether the White House is considering limited military action against Pyongyang. (Jan. 16) AP

A near unanimous 93% of respondents expect a worsening of “political or economic confrontations/frictions between major powers” this year. Nearly 80% think risks associated with “state-on-state military conflict or incursion” and “regional conflicts drawing in major powers” will be higher than in years past.

Trump will join other world and business leaders in the Swiss Alpine resort Jan. 23-26 for the forum, where he is scheduled to give the closing address, organizers said.

Klaus Schwab, the forum’s founder, said one big issue will be “the future of global cooperation related to trade, environment, the fight against terrorism, tax systems, competitiveness.”

“In this context it’s absolutely essential to have President Trump with us,” he said. Trump has alienated many other world leaders with his preference for a go-it-alone approach rather than embracing joint international efforts to deal with many of these problems.

Extreme weather in 2017 included three major Atlantic hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — that caused a record $200 billion in damage.

Record high temperatures struck southern Europe, eastern and southern Africa, South America and parts of Russia and China. Last year, Trump withdrew the United States from the landmark Paris Climate Accord that aims to reduce carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

The greatest concerns for North American business leaders are cyberattacks, terrorism, asset bubbles, fiscal crises and the failure of adapting to climate change.

“Humanity has become remarkably adept at understanding how to mitigate conventional risks that can be relatively easily isolated,” the report said. “But we are much less competent when it comes to dealing with complex risks in the interconnected systems that underpin our world, such as organizations, economies, societies and the environment.”

Other pressing concerns identified in the report:

* Cyberattacks that target critical infrastructure and strategic industrial sectors. In a worst-case scenario, they could trigger societal chaos.

* Data fraud or theft of private or government data on an unprecedented scale.

* Climate change continues to cause havoc because governments and businesses fail to combat the causes.

* Mass migration continues because of war, natural disasters and poverty.

* Terrorist attacks that inflict large-scale death and destruction.

* Financial bubbles that could hit stocks, commodities and housing.

In a section on cyberattacks, the report said cyber breaches recorded by businesses have nearly doubled from 68 per business in 2012 to 130 in 2017.

In 2016 alone, 357 million new malware variants were released, and “banking trojans” designed to steal account login details could be purchased for as little as $500, the report said. The European Aviation Safety Agency, the European Union’s industry regulator, said aviation systems see an average of 1,000 cyberattacks each month.

“Geopolitical friction is contributing to a surge in the scale and sophistication of cyberattacks,” said John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at insurance broker Marsh, referring to simmering conflicts from Ukraine to North Korea.

The Global Risks Report 2018
The World Economic Forum

Each year the Global Risks Report works with experts and decision-makers across the world to identify and analyze the most pressing risks that we face. As the pace of change accelerates, and as risk interconnections deepen, this year’s report highlights the growing strain we are placing on many of the global systems we rely on.

The Global Risks Report 2018 is published at a time of encouraging headline global growth. Any breathing space this offers to leaders should not be squandered: the urgency of facing up to systemic challenges has intensified over the past year amid proliferating signs of uncertainty, instability and fragility.

This year’s report covers more risks than ever, but focuses in particular on four key areas: environmental degradation, cybersecurity breaches, economic strains and geopolitical tensions. And in a new series called “Future Shocks” the report cautions against complacency and highlights the need to prepare for sudden and dramatic disruptions.

The 2018 report also presents the results of our latest Global Risks Perception Survey, in which nearly 1,000 experts and decision-makers assess the likelihood and impact of 30 global risks over a 10-year horizon.

Over this medium-term period, environmental and cyber risks predominate. However, the survey also highlights elevated levels of concern about risk trajectories in 2018, particularly in relation to geopolitical tensions.

Global Risks Report 2018
The world faced increasing exposure to risk in 2017, with structural weaknesses in the geopolitical, environmental, societal and economic systems all showing signs of strain, despite an improved economic backdrop. The Global Risks Report 2018 provides an opportunity to place the global risk landscape into context at the beginning of the New Year and identify priority areas for action in 2018.

This year’s report will examine the five greatest priorities facing the world in 2018, their interconnections and the actions necessary to avoid their harshest fall-out.
* Margareta Drzeniek Hanouz, Head, System Initiative on the Future of Economic Progress, World Economic Forum
* John Drzik, President, Global Risk and Digital, Marsh
* Alison Martin, Group Chief Risk Officer, Zurich Insurance Group
* Richard Samans, Managing Director, World Economic Forum
Moderated by
* Adrian Monck, Managing Director, Head of Public and Social Engagement, World Economic Forum

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