This is my second post on the National Intelligence Council (NIC) briefing for the U.S. president called “Global Trends“, a report that looks at potential risks to the United States 20 years ahead. The first post (here) dealt with climate change, but in this post I want to take a look at how the Intelligence Community views the potential threat of a future energy constraint on the U.S. and world economy.
The quick answer: not much of a threat at all.
In a likely tectonic shift, the United States could become energy-independent. The US has regained its position as the world’s largest natural gas producer and expanded the life of its reserves from 30 to 100 years due to hydraulic fracturing technology.
The one-hundred-years-of-gas refrain was also a feature of President Obama’s State of the Union address back in January 2012. I blogged about the authenticity of the claim then
. Enough to say that both the President and the NIC appear to be confusing resources with reserves. The industry association Naturalgas.org has a good explanation of the difference here
, including the following component chart (click for larger image):
Every four years, just before inauguration, each incoming president gets a 100-page National Intelligence Council (NIC) briefing called “Global Trends” that looks at potential risks to the United States 20 years ahead. As futurology goes, the report’s aims are quite cautious:
The report is intended to stimulate thinking about the rapid and vast geopolitical changes characterizing the world today and possible global trajectories during the next 15-20 years. As with the NIC’s previous Global trends reports, we do not seek to predict the future—which would be an impossible feat—but instead provide a framework for thinking about possible futures and their implications.
The NIC is the long-term strategic think tank of the U.S. Intelligence Community, which in turn is a cooperative federation of 16 U.S. government agencies (including the CIA) that work on intelligence issues. Continue reading