This is the 8 April 2021 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access).
This week’s signals lead us to wonder: Could the U.S. be trying to go back to the Obama years? Yet, the world has changed. Alternatively, the similarity may only be one of surface. Tensions, carefully kindled, could reflect efforts at reasserting superpower status, for example fully incorporating the geopolitics of vaccines and of the pandemic.
- Will there be Climate Civil Wars?
- Assessing the “Strategic” in Strategic Surprise
- What are Climate Wars?
- The Military and the “Climate Blowback” – Summer 2021 (1)
- Antarctic China (1): Strategies for a Very Cold Place
- The Chinese Fishing Fleet, Influence and Hunger Wars
- Losing Texas to Climate Change and the COVID-19?
- Is the West Losing the Warming Arctic?
Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.
Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases
We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.
In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.
You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.
The sections of the scan
Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:
- world (international politics and geopolitics);
- science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
- analysis, strategy and futures;
- the Covid-19 pandemic;
- energy and environment.
However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.
The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.
Featured image: Milky Way above SPECULOOS / The Search for habitable Planets – EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars (SPECULOOS) is searching for Earth-like planets around tiny, dim stars in front of a panorama of the Milky Way. Credit: ESO/P. Horálek.