Crises everywhere, all at once

I firmly believe the world is at a historical turning point, equivalent to the French Revolution or the outbreak of World War One.

I expect more changes in the next few years than there have been in many decades.  

This is not good news.  Times of revolutionary change are not times any normal person would want to live through, even those whose results we now think are good, like the era of the French Revolution.

The world faces multiple crises, which feed upon each other, and which are not being dealt with.

Humanity is failing to deal with the growing civilization-threatening threat of global warming.  We are neither about to stop the ongoing increase of global warming nor deal with the increasing number of catastrophic storms, droughts and floods.  

Neither are we able to deal with the growing threat of pandemic disease.  Nor has the world has really recovered from the 2008 financial crash.   And now the world faces the spillover from the proxy war in Ukraine.

Adam Tooze, a famous financial historian, calls what we’re facing a “polycrisis.”  All the different crises affect each other and make the others worse.  

Tooze is an intelligent establishmentarian.  He wants the world’s leaders to change some things in order that the essential things will stay the same.  I think the things are past the point where this is possible, although I would be happy to be proved wrong.

If I made my own polycrisis chart, I would put some additional boxes on it—the continuing “war on terror,” for one; peak oil, for another.  But his basic point is right.  The world’s leaders face multiple crises, and, with few exceptions, they are not dealing with them. 

Instead of joining forces to face the existential threats to civilization, the world’s great powers—China, Russia, the USA and the European Union—are lining up for a struggle for power that will test their strength to the breaking point and damage the world as a whole, not just themselves.

Ukraine already is devastated.  The UK and EU are in economic recession and face dangerous fuel shortages.  Many nations of the Global South are unable to import food and fuel.  

I have written about why I think my own country is likely to crack before Russia does, but Russia and even China have serious problems, and if they go down first, our future still looks grim.

It is not just the great power conflict’s cost in resources and human lives.  It is the opportunity cost of neglect of turning away from the real threats that face us.

LINKS

Apocalypse Nowish: The sense of an ending by Michael Robbins for Harper’s magazine.

Defining polycrisis – from crisis pictures to the crisis matrix by Adam Tooze for Chartbook #130.

Covid, Climate and the New Denialism by Edward Snowden for Continuing Ed.

Fighting a War on the Wrong Planet by Rajan Menon for TomDispatch.

Why Is China So Obsessed With Food Security? by N.S. Lyons for The Upheaval.

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3 Responses to “Crises everywhere, all at once”

  1. Crandew Says:

    Great post. I agree with you about being at a historical point, but not necessarily the reasons why.

    Like

  2. philebersole Says:

    Crandew, I would be interested in knowing the reasons you think we are at a historical point of crisis, and which of my reasons you question.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Crandew Says:

      Mostly, I believe the government’s are at war with their own people. Pandemic, Ukraine war, global warming, climate change, etc… all just fake distractions while our leaders collapse the economy. What the Western countries will soon face is no food, no money, and massive deaths.

      I know that probably all sounds crazy, but that’s how I see it.

      Liked by 1 person

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