Climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, and growing inequality will exacerbate global volatility over the coming decades, a report by top U.S. intelligence officials released Thursday warns. The Global Trends report, released every four years by the National Intelligence Council, predicted the impacts of climate change – rising temperatures, intensifying extreme weather and droughts that increase food insecurity, health risks, and conflict – would accelerate the trend of massive migration, and with it, global instability. COVID, the report said, exposed the fragility of the world order, worsening “more and cascading global challenges, ranging from disease to climate change to the disruptions from new technologies and financial crises,” the authors wrote. “The international system – including the organizations, alliances, rules, and norms – is poorly set up to address the compounding global challenges facing populations.”

Under the best case scenario, democracies would take advantage of the opportunity to use pandemic recovery efforts to reorient national and international priorities toward solutions that would plan and adapt for climate change and other crises. Unfortunately, said Maria Langan-Reikhof, the director of the council’s strategic futures group, “greater divisions, increasing fracturing… [are] likely to continue and probably worsen.” (New York Times $, Washington Post $, Wall Street Journal $, Reuters, The Hill)