Most of us don’t seem to understand this. We are in a colossal mess of our own doing, a perfect storm like nothing we have faced in our short 200,000 year history as a new species. Our literal survival depends on our successfully finding ways to deal with it.
The fate of our world hinges on how we deal with climate change, political stupidity, and corporate myopia. The recent Paris accord is a step in the right direction, actually an amazing agreement between some 200 often belligerent nations, but it is woefully short of what we must do to remain alive.
There is a pressing unmet need to reduce world population. This would ameliorate some of our worst problems, as long as we didn’t forget the other factors. But this element of our storm, like others, is being undermined even as it is improved. Upgrading of peoples’ lives brings about a lower birth rate. Birth rates in some advanced countries have fallen below replacement rate, and only immigration keeps the population growing. The spoiler is that the poorly educated religious of any stripe have higher birth rates than secular populations, thus guaranteeing a growing population, since they outnumber the secular at least 3:1.
The US is still the worst offender in climate change, in spite of the awful smog photos coming out of China. Here’s why: The US climate changers are primarily cars and evil power plants, and while our cars have cut down on smog generation, their main emission is CO2. They emit CO2 when they function normally, and we never see it, yet that is what will drown us.
Wouldn’t you hate to be in command of policy for China? The fate of more than four times our own population hangs on what you decide. The Central Committee is made up of ordinary myopic people who never think things through, which is absolutely essential in an economy of 1.4 billion people. Thus they decided that the people deserved cars instead of bicycles, but they somehow failed to realize that 150+ million cruddy pollution-spewing cars would be a disaster. China’s proximate problem because of that is public health, not climate change. Many thousands die from air pollution every year. Now they must do something about it, which is a lot harder than it would have been before 150 million cars hit the road.
Coal is the other Great Chinese Disaster, and it too is not being adequately addressed. That’s where the nightmare air quality shots come from. Then there are the catastrophically bad factories, whose managers think dumping horrible crap on the world in product and effluent is just fine.
The sea has already risen enough to force populations in low areas of the world to abandon ship. Bangladesh may the the worst case. Fully a third of the country is succumbing to the tides, tossing millions of people into the overcrowded interior. But we’re all witness to the advancing water. In the US we are finally facing the fact that places like southern Florida and New Orleans will be sacrificed. The next big hurricane will underline that thought.
Hundreds of millions of people will have to move. Their numbers will dwarf the mere millions being driven out of Syria by the Daesh. We can easily absorb the Syrian population, but in both Europe and the US there is a violent backlash against all immigrants, and particularly Muslim immigrants.
The word “Islamic” is most often connected to “terrorist” in our minds, and “Muslim” Googles almost always go with “hate”. This is the worst sort of xenophobia, with a certain percentage of the population (including Donald Trump) wanting to deny all Muslims any sort of entry into the US, and some percentage of those wanting to kill all Muslims. We already knew that violent speech leads to violent actions, and a few fools believe they are patriots when they commit violence. With the frequent headlines shouting “Muslim terrorists”, and the high numbers of lives lost from them in Bali, Mumbai, Kenya, Paris, and elsewhere, we forget that there are also home-grown non-Muslim terrorists who blow up buildings and shoot innocent people.
So, even while peaceful Muslim congregations collect significant sums of money for the latest victims of IS violence, nitwit Trumpsters take it upon themselves to burn down mosques. American stupidity has no known limit.
I’d venture it’s safe to say that the Muslim-haters of the US have no grasp of the global politics that have lead to extremism. It’s been pointed out that George W. Bush’s wonderfully blind policies and actions are almost entirely responsible for the rise of IS and a number of other militant groups that plague us now. This pretty much proves that myopia is not just a Chinese phenomenon, but a universal problem.
Nor is it just a political phenomenon. Probably worse than political shortsightedness is corporate shortsightedness. And, somewhat in the same way that the normal functioning of cars is warming the Earth, the corporate imperative to post profit at all costs has been causing global political disaster since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Only now our very survival depends on controlling it.
Corporate compulsion is real, and largely unmanaged. No matter how we decide to use our money to save our asses and help others, the corporate world will come up with some way to divert it into the accounts of its managers. Money is marked to improve the lives of some country’s desperate poor, and it ends up building luxury hotels. Numerous African countries’ most pressing needs are for clean water and sanitary sewers, but what they get is hugely destructive petroleum extraction and massive bribes for the president-for-life and his army. Nothing at all happens in countries which have no natural resources to steal.
Simply put, the corporate world can be trusted to do the wrong thing. In the US, our greatest political challenge is to claw back some control over our own lives from the extremely wealthy corporatists who, over half a century, have amassed almost every dollar for themselves.
God, what a mess.