1. POPULATION EXPLOSION - Population explosion is the rapid growth of the world’s population over the last six decades. In 1950, the world’s population was 2.5 billion people; in 2008, the population is estimated at 6.5 billion people; and in 2050, the population is expected to reach 9 billion. The population explosion provides more opportunities for the insurgent to hide within the population and places a premium on winning the struggle for the populace’s support. As the population continues to grow, governments will struggle to provide their people with food, water, and power, giving potential insurgent groups an opportunity to exploit a vulnerable population.
2. URBANIZATION - Urbanization is the growth of urban areas due to both a population surge and migration. In 1950, 29 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas; in 2008, almost 50 percent of the population lives in urban areas; and by 2050, it is estimated that 60 percent of the population will live in urban areas. This rapid growth of urban areas indicates that there is a greater potential that future insurgencies will be fought in urban areas.
3. GLOBALIZATION - Globalization is a combination of the technological, economic, social, cultural, and political forces that are bringing nation-states and the people of the world closer together. These forces are making the world more interconnected and economically linked. Positively, it has reduced poverty in nations like China and India. It has increased the gap between rich and poor nations, caused an increased demand for resources, and may be affecting the climate.
4. TECHNOLOGY - Technological developments such as the computer, the internet, the digital camera, and satellite television have transformed the world since 1950. Information can be exchanged around the world in less than a second. This has also increased the reach, impact, and influence of the media to the insurgent and the counterinsurgent. Additionally these same technologies, along with advanced weaponry, have dramatically changed the battlefield. Both insurgents and counterinsurgents will continue to innovate and adapt these technologies to the battlefield of today and the future.
5. RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM - Religious fundamentalism is defined as a belief in the infallibility of holy scriptures, absolute religious authority, and strict adherence to a set of basic religious principles without any compromise with modern life. As nation-states struggle to provide for their people, some of the dissatisfied population, as a backlash against globalization, will turn to religious fundamentalism to provide those needs that the nation-state cannot. This is a primary insurgent ideology.
6. RESOURCE DEMAND - Demand for energy, water, and food for growing populations will increase competition and, potentially, conflict.
7. CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL DISASTERS - Climate change and natural disasters will compound already difficult conditions in developing countries and have the ability to cause humanitarian crises, driving regionally destabilizing population migrations and raising potential for epidemic diseases.
8. PROLIFERATION OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION AND EFFECTS - Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and effects increase the potential for catastrophic attacks, especially if used by failed states or terrorist organizations.