Three Top Priorities Our Endangered World Needs the Most for Safety


There are several important challenges before the world to find solutions for diverse problems. However when it comes to identifying the most urgent concerns of our endangered world, three issues of critical importance must be given the highest priority.

  1. There are many ongoing conflicts in the world but those of Gaza and Ukraine are of very special concern not just because of the very high levels of human suffering associated with these conflicts but in addition also because of their many-sided possibilities of escalation. As things stand today, powerful forces and desperate persons may strive, in fact may already be doing so, for deliberate escalation. What is more, in the worst case scenario the escalation can be of a kind that can even lead to a nuclear war or the third world war. This possibility has been discussed in recent times by several well-informed analysts. Even if this possibility is not of a very high probability, it has such serious implications that the case for stopping these conflicts as early as possible has acquired the greatest urgency. Hence peace based on justice in these two conflict situations should get the highest priority.
  2. The medical system needs very urgent reforms to delink it from specifically two kinds of high-risk possibilities (which are already being promoted by powerful interests). One is that a few giant multinational companies with more or less worldwide reach, helped also by some of the richest billionaires and their foundations, acquire very powerful control over the world medical system (including crucial international institutions) and policy and use this influence in such a way as to extract very fat profits for themselves while inflicting endless costs plus dangerous side-effects and hazards on people. What can be even more harmful is the second possibility, which too is already visible, that these big business interests use their influence, in collusion with others, also for even wider economic and political purposes. The discourse on pandemics, for example, can be promoted in such a way that international institutions can get power to impose heavy restrictions on ordinary activities of people for long periods of time, thereby disrupting their livelihoods as well as democratic rights, in the process also heavily impeding or overruling the sovereignty of various countries. People helped by medical scientists, doctors and personnel need to get together to check such possibilities. In addition they should work to stop that kind of dangerous medical research, often taken up wrongly in the name of preparing for pandemics, which itself has possibilities of causing pandemics as well as providing tools of biological warfare in secretive ways, overcoming existing bans and restrictions.
  3. Although many senior scientists have warned time and again, individually and in groups, that many serious threats have emerged to the basic life-threating conditions of our planet, no comprehensive efforts to respond effectively to this biggest of all dangers have emerged yet. The two basic components of this threat to life-nurturing conditions are well-known and widely acknowledged. These are—1) a number of serious, perhaps a dozen or so, environmental problems led by but certainly not confined to climate change, and 2) accumulation of stocks of weapons of mass destruction( led by but not confined to nuclear weapons ) which are quite capable of destroying almost all human life and the bulk of other life on earth. Several new technologies that are fast emerging and spreading indiscriminately, such as AI, when linked to these existing threats or on their own, can also pose existential threats. It is amazing and extremely sad that no comprehensive plan to tackle the combination of all these existing threats to essential life conditions of our planet has emerged yet. The existing very limited efforts, such as the United Nations framework efforts to tackle climate change or the already faltering treaties to check the accumulation, proliferation and possibility of actual use of weapons of mass destruction, are extremely weak and have a very narrow vision. Hence one of the biggest needs of our times is to have a comprehensive agenda for tackling all life threatening problems taken together. What is more, this should be set within a framework of justice, peace and democracy. This agenda must get continuing attention of people and leadership as the highest priority and systems to ensure such continuing and high-level attention should be in place.

The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children, Planet in Peril, Earth without Borders and A Day in 2071.   

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