Past few weeks have been exceptionally dangerous for the world. Political, economic and environmental factors have raised existential questions for humanity. Honest and prudent leadership is essential to prevent annihilation.
Stephen Hawking, the famous British scientist, says artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. A great war, climate change, pandemics, an asteroid hitting the earth, etc. could end the world as well.
Among them all, global politics might destroy the world more easily. Great wars may start due to fairly inconsequential reasons. For example, the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria started World War I. The German invasion of Poland began World War II.
Perhaps those situations were not as combustible as the US-North Korea spat is today. Both countries have nuclear weapons and whimsical and unpredictable leaders at the helm. The fuel of resentment is already there. All you need is a trigger to ignite the fuel into a flame capable of engulfing the world.
The development of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems by Pyongyang and the quest of nuclear weapon nations, particularly the United States, to outlaw nuclear proliferation without denuclearizing themselves have built up the fuel of resentment.
US President Donald Trump unleashed his fire and fury warning to North Korea, and North Korea warned to hit Guam, where an American base is located. Any of them could prove the trigger.
Although both sides have now tempered their rhetoric somewhat, the fear that Trump and Kim Jung-Un, both deemed as bullies and unstable, could push the button in their rage is very much there.
As I had written a couple of weeks back, if such a foolish thing were to happen, the war could such China, Russia, and American allies in the region into it, elevating it to World War III.
Although the bull run of stock markets continues without prolonged setbacks, the economic fundamental have begun to look vulnerable.
US President Trump’s anti-trade policies may unleash a trade war and make everyone worse off. Trump has threatened China and Germany with tariffs and trade restrictions to reduce the trade deficit.
He has also threatened to pull out of the trade agreements with South Korea, with Canada and Mexico, and with many other countries and impose a huge tariff of the products from those countries for the same reason.
If he translates his rhetoric into policy, other countries would retaliate. Thus, Trump could trigger a global trade war, which will make everyone, including the United States, worse off and collapse the post-World War II global order.
Brexit is another black patch on the global economic horizon. Though the British people voted last year to leave the European Union and their decision should be respected, many of them voted for the exit because politicians campaigned on lies and false promises.
For instance, the Brexiteers promised £350 million a week for the National Health Service after Britain left the EU. But NHS is now facing more budget cuts, and senior doctors have warned that several hospitals might have to be closed due to the funding shortage.
Besides, European doctors and nurses are already quitting the NHS due to the fear about their future once Britain leaves the EU, leaving a huge gap in staffing, thanks to the British waffle in the post-Brexit immigration policy.
The Brexiteers promised that Britain would have access to the EU single market after Brexit and sign several trade agreements with other countries around the world before Brexit.
Both claims were false, as it turns out now. Based on the initial EU-Britain negotiations, Britain will not have free access to the single market.
There will be a hard border between the EU and Britain, especially between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which could unravel the peace attained under the Good Friday Agreement. Even the EU-Canada trade agreement model could be beyond Britain’s reach.
The EU has refused to start trade negotiations until it is confident that Britain would pay the divorce bill to meet its prior commitments, would protect the rights of EU citizens, would accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in matters related to the EU.
Other countries have politely refused to start trade negotiations until Britain came out of the EU. Evidently, they do not want to infuriate the 27 countries in the EU to please Britain.
Even the US President Donald Trump, who had promised to put Britain in the front of the queue in its trade negotiations, is loud in the silence.
As a result, there is uncertainty not only about Britain’s economic future in the near and medium term but also the future of global trade and finance.
Last but not least, natural and man-made disasters combined might destroy the world.
Not long after President Trump, who is a climate change denier, withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Hurricane Harvey has devastated much of Texas. Hurricane Irma is about to destroy much of Florida. Hurricane Jose is on its way to the southeastern United States.
Elsewhere, floods devastated South Asia, and a massive earthquake razed part of Mexico to the ground.
People like Pastor Kevin Swanson, a staunch Trump supporter, believe that the hurricanes would change their course if abortion and same-sex marriage were declared illegal in the United States. Well, they have devastated some of the conservative heartlands as well.
I am sure, while human activities might or might not have contributed to natural disasters, they have certainly contributed to their severity.
For example, the huge consumption of energy has contributed to global warming, to the decline in snow cover, and to the increase in the severity of hurricanes and typhoons. It the global warming and climate change continues at the current rate, it will wipe out humanity in the next few centuries, if not decades.
Similarly, the overexploitation of sea, rivers, and land is contributing to their desertification in their own way.
Several species of sea, river and land animals and plants have already become extinct and more are on their way to extinction. Deserts that cannot support life are growing rapidly. Pollution has been taking its toll on land and sea life as well.
Against this background, it is time for sober thinking, wise leadership, and prudent decisions and actions, which are in short supply now. We need honest and truthful leaders to turn the world around.
Otherwise, anything can happen.