Income inequality and shaky government finances top the list
As if we didn't have enough to worry about with the apocalypse this year, a new report has given us 50 more catastrophic events to fret about.
OK, so the apocalypse (probably) won't happen, but the risks the
"We're not talking about small risks here, we're talking about massive potential events," Michel-Kerjan says. "Most of them, if not the majority of them, are pretty likely to happen and this is probably the first year we've really had that recognition that these are not low-probability events."
Planet Earth just can't get a break, can it?
Income inequality, bad government balance sheets, and greenhouse gas emissions top the
"When most people think about risks, they think about sudden events like a terrorist attack or an earthquake," Michel-Kerjan says. But that's not necessarily the case with the risks outlined in the WEF report, especially this year.
Consider the report's top risk: income inequality. "Income disparity is not something that happens overnight," Michel-Kerjan says, adding that about 50 percent of the world's population survives on only 1 percent of the wealth. "It builds up."
The social instability income inequality produces is where the risk comes in, he says, citing the events leading up to the Arab Spring last year and the social climate in
Income inequality isn't just an issue in emerging and less-developed economies. "These trends are evolving differently," the report says. "In developed countries, such as those of
But the report is no crystal ball, says Michel-Kerjan. While the risks the report identifies are the most likely according to a survey of experts, they are by no means certain to occur. Still, there is value in acknowledging risks and preparing for them. "What we're saying here is that we're seeing risks building themselves over time," he says. "Many people think about risk management in silos, and that's been a big part of our failure to see things coming before they happen."
The global risks report will be presented next week at the
"The people we are targeting here are people who have the capacity to influence the situation one way or another," he says.
- Top 5 Global Risks for 2012
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- Global Health: Eradication and Elimination
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- Global Health: 'Contagion'
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- Global Financial Regulation: Goal Many Espouse But Can It Be Done?
- Forging a Lasting Peace
- Why We Still Need Nuclear Power
Copyright 2012, U.S. News & World Report