World’s Biggest Risks are Economic and Environmental, Says Report

Thursday, January 10, 2013
Photo Credit: Winning Moves Games


Income inequality, staggering public debt and global warming are the biggest threats facing the world, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).


About a thousand industry and government experts were asked by the WEF what issues concerned them the most, and the response was pretty much the same as the year before: Too much divide between rich and poor; governments carrying way too much debt; and greenhouse gases producing too much extreme weather.


Other concerns that ranked near the top include water supply crises and governments doing a bad job of dealing with aging populations.


John Drzik, head of Oliver Wyman Group and one of the experts surveyed for the report, told The Washington Post: “Two storms — environmental and economic — are on a collision course.”


The report also raises a red flag over some “game-changing” events for which world leaders should be prepared. Among them are:

·      State or private abuse of climate manipulation technology.

·      The impact on human belief systems in the event that alien life is discovered.

·      “Neural enhancement” of combat troops and even ordinary citizens (akin to sports doping).

·      The realization that climate change can no longer be reversed, and that the Earth will become inhospitable to life.


The biggest difference between the new study and last year’s is that respondents now see the risks as more likely to happen and, when they do, having a stronger impact on the world. “There is a feeling that we are not making progress,” said report editor Lee Howell. “We are not seeing the state leadership necessary to tackle these risks.” 

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Here are the Top Three Risks Facing the World (by Olga Khazan, Washington Post)

Global Risks 2013 (World Economic Forum) (pdf) 


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