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Long-term global threat assessment: Challenging new roles for emergency managers

Richard A. Bissell, PhD, Andrew Bumbak, MS, Matthew Levy, DO, MS, Patrick Echebi, MD, MS


Based on currently available published data and literature from multiple disciplines, this article introduces medium- and long-term global developments and changes that will likely impact human society in disastrous or even catastrophic fashion, with significant impact on the roles and challenges of emergency managers. Some of the phenomena described include the following: (1) loss of fresh water, (2) significant sea level rise with resultant flooding, (3) increased heat leading to desertification and crop losses, (4) storms that are both more frequent and more violent, (5) massive food emergencies as crops fail for lack of water and/or saltwater inundation, (6) loss of the petroleumbased economy, and (7) massive population relocations on a level the world has never experienced. The perspective used is purposely global, in that the trends described do not respect political boundaries. We also recognize that mitigation and response activities may well involve many nations simultaneously. The article concludes with introductory suggestions of steps emergency management should take in preparing to serve new and more complex tasks to meet coming challenges, and a “call to action” for emergency managers to assume a more active role in confronting the risks imposed by forces that are now underway.


global threat trends; risk profile; global resource depletion; emergency management; new roles

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