I read an article from Salon titled "How America will collapse (by 2025)" which the author, Alfred McCoy, tells of scenarios which lead to a rapid decline of American power replaced by China. The decline and fall of the United States as a dominate global power seems to be a forgone conclusion now. The United States' own government even marks the end at sometime in the middle of this century. This is not comforting if a government is predicting its own decline. The article goes through various scenarios which lead to a more rapid decline than others expect. These include a continued dependence on oil, costly military adventures which don't work, loss of technological leadership, and economic leadership. The bottom line is almost every scenario involves problems in our educational system that does not produce citizens that can meet the challenges the author presents.
The first scenario is the loss of leadership in technological innovation. The article cites the fact that the United States is not producing enough adults with university degrees much less in science and engineering. This means countries like China and India will have an upper hand in technology innovation which will continue to fuel their economies as they roar past the United States. The second scenario is the United State's continued dependence on foreign oil. According to the article foreign oil accounts for over 66% of our energy consumed. If oil producing countries want to cripple the U.S. economy then all they need to do shut off our supply. This time, China will be very willing to purchase oil and play nice politically with oil-producing countries. Not enough effort is being placed to find energy alternatives that are cheap and renewable. Other countries are doing more than the U.S. in finding alternative energy sources. Whoever finds this first will dominate the world. After 9/11 finding renewable energy should have a Manahattan Project or Moon mission type of national urgency. Yet, we are not producing the scientists needed to undertake such a project. Finally, the author tells about how the U.S. military is becoming more reliant on unmanned, robotic or cyber weapons to overwhelm potential enemies with little cost in life. The problem is these weapon systems need to be invented, built, and protected by technology specialists our country is not producing in the education system. The result, China launches a massive cyberattack that renders our defense capabilities useless because of sub-standard computer systems and not enough experts in anti-cyberwarfare. The U.S. could lose a war in a matter of minutes.
Throughout the history of the United States, the country has always prided itself for rising to meet the challenges other countries have thrown at it. Perhaps the dominate superpower is over relying on this ability when a crisis comes. However, a crisis must be met with decisiveness in a matter of seconds as opposed to months or years in the past. One thing the United States did have to meet its challenges is an educated workforce that could overcome any obstacle with creativity and determination. Does our educational system provide workers who could undertake the challenges like World War II or the race to the Moon? Would a cyberattack by China or anyone else be enough to wake the slumbering giant that crushed Germany and Japan? Would the giant be able to respond before it is too late or not at all? Can the United States place its national future in the hands of today's students given the state of education? Please let me know what you think.