2011 Top Ten: 9. Fighting the global threat of climate change could unite countries—or inflame rivalries.
Nations with more sophisticated environmental monitoring systems could use data to their advantage, perhaps weakening an enemy by failing to warn it of an oncoming storm or other catastrophe. They could also fudge their own, or their rivals', carbon output numbers to manipulate International legislation says forecaster Roger Howard.
One such potential monitoring system, sensor dust, embedded computing, augmented reality, and a host of other emerging technologies hold the potential to “awaken” cities as digital environments providing more and more accurate data about energy use, temperature, etc.. Nations that could afford such a technology could use that data to their advantage, perhaps unfairly.
Futurist Jamais Cascio agrees that future international diplomacy may increasingly focus on how to control the climate. Some advocates believe geoengineering may become imperative by 2015. However, the deliberate manipulation of the Earth's natural systems in order to mitigate the effects of climate change is very difficult, and could carry dangerous unintended side effects. One result may be protests that lead to violence, especially if different regions have divergent results or demand incompatible outcomes.