Saturday, May 26, 2018 | ePaper

Into the vortex

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Alamgir Mohiuddin :
Never in history mankind faced a situation  so complex, dreadful and alluring as now. Endless lines of problems parallel with huge possibilities. Difficult issues are being solved in a whiff, but simple ones linger on, and then ignored throwing up new crises. We face today an unprecedented set of problems relating to environment, world order is the ongoing process of spiritual decline.
Mankind appears to stand at the edge of an abyss, or at the mouth of a tunnel with unimaginable chaos, calamity, death and destruction.  Curiously some of them respond to lasting solutions but   many of them refuse to budge. And again there were ideas so powerful that it's effect upon the world was most profound. Some of the problems that  the human race face in present times concern some  ominous circumstances of the current age that threaten not only the well being of collective humanity but also, perhaps, the very environmental and ecological systems that support life on earth. These plethora of problems can be put into some groups for broad understanding and discussions for some way out.
Environmental and ecological problems that surveys and studies show to be the topmost challenges now facing the world. Ecological destruction, resource depletion shows their imprint on atmospheric change. Global warming is now a known situation familiar to everyone.
Then there is the  problem of over population that  exacerbates the environmental issues. It is equally affecting social and political problem. Problems in the social, economic and political spheres of human activity  include problems relating to the 'Coming One World Order', that is the issues relating to the ongoing integration of all humanity into a single cohesive whole.
We also live in a world  characterized  by corruption, oppression, exploitation, conspiracy and injustice and again  division, conflict, terrorism and mutual distrust often dominate the life.
The spiritual issues of present times are often presented by a section of the powerful group as formidable. Issues surrounding the process of secularization vis-à-vis  religion is also a complex problem. The rise of scientific rationalism has only complicated the problem.
Then comes the issues of the present day ideas that  puzzles Scientists, Philosophers and Theologians. At first it may seem a little incongruous to consider these more academic problems in the same discussion as some of the more apparent issues mentioned earlier i.e. the Socio-Economic, Political and Environmental problems of this World.  Ideas, it is known to all, can and do impact on human affairs in powerful and often determining ways.
The environmental and ecological problems of the times : A planet in peril
It is generally acknowledged that in the world today there are potentially calamitous problems relating to environmental destruction, resource depletion, global warming and over population. The natural resources of this planet, its forests, fisheries and crop lands are already being used at such a rate that is unsustainable. Planet's renewable resources are being used faster than what the planet can replenish. As a result this trend just accelerates the ongoing process of species extinction and the destruction of natural habitats such as the tropical rainforests, whole ocean ecosystems, rivers and coastal wetlands. This gradual destruction of the earths biosphere, its animal and plant species together with their complex webs of self sustenance, is certainly set to continue as human population growth and increased economic activity imposes more pressures on the planetary ecosystem. World's population. now at an estimated 7 billion people, is projected to grow to over 10 billion people by  2050. The researchers say these factors will combine to demand  that will certainly be  interesting times  and puzzling. For example world's seas, fresh waters, forests and croplands are being exploited at such a rate that nothing will be left by 2075'. Also food shortages and food price hikes that were experienced by the World in 2008 may be the shape of things to come.
Global warming
Global warming is now said to be primarily  a  man made  phenomenon. Obviously  there is counter argument that  it's a naturally occurring phenomenon. However it is a fact  that  melting glaciers and polar ice caps, the increase in hurricane activity (with category 4 and 5 hurricanes, the most intense, doubling in frequency over the past 50 years), changing rainfall patterns and of course the actual increases are now common pointing to global warming. It is projected to intensify with dire consequences for humanity. Temperature  will  rise  with sea level rises of 80cm or so. Earth's atmosphere will change so much  that it becomes similar to that of the planet Venus, with surface temperatures way above the boiling point of water, that is 250 degrees celsius together with sulphuric acid rain. Late world renowned scientist Stephen Hawking cited this scenario  a distinct future possibility. It could be true in that in the last 2003  heat wave over Europe some 27000 people died  .  The deaths, crop failures and unbearable living  in The Third World brought about as an indirect consequence of climate change.
Water scarcity
The United Nations estimates that due to population growth, pollution and global warming the average persons water supply will be cut by a third over the next 20 years. This would be a major inconvenience in the developed and industrialized countries but in the Third World where 90% of the water supply is used for agriculture, the consequences will be disastrous.  It is being asserted that in the future wars will be fought over water, this most essential of requirements for sustaining life. King Abdullah of Jordan has said 'future potential conflict in our area is not over land, it is over water.' It is a certainty that the problems deriving from water scarcity will increase sharply over the years to come.
Peak oil, peak gas and peak uranium
Researchers have warned of fuel shortages due to the peaking in production and subsequent decline in output of three of the world's most important energy sources, that is oil, gas and uranium ore. The worlds output of all these commodities will peak at a certain point in time and thereafter production of the commodity go into terminal decline.  But the demand for them will either grow or remain constant thereby producing a supply shortfall. This will lead to political instability, economic problems and even war as countries  will  use force  to secure their energy supplies. Researches have claimed that   Peak Oil period  may have already been crossed sometime ago and the  time  for  Peak Gas range from around 2020 to 2030 and that for peak Uranium at around 2025 to 2035.
The coming one world order
Because of technological  progress, social, economic and political developments in the world marked a sea change. The world is fast  becoming one place  in the recorded history. Some call the scenario as global village, globalization or the coming one world order. It is primarily done through trade, economic integration, political union and cultural exchange. Modern technologies such as the internet, the jumbo jet and the other communication system played the leading role in bringing people of all hues and belief together. But the process also brought with it a host of difficulties and seemingly intractable problems. Some of them because of cultural, ideological and religious differences, but  many others were produced by  the perceived injustices of this world, its iniquity and  exploitation. Thus  humanity,  though came  together,  continue to  live in a world of ideological and religious differences, mutual distrust and enmity. A world of racial and ethnic disharmony and one characterized by massive disparities in wealth and availability or access to the basic resources needed to sustain human life. These problems will raise problems  on the way of the coming one world order.
The most  important  category of problems  relating to the coming one world order will  be  political, economic and social  issues and behaviours. Then there are the  problems relating to tyranny, oppression, social injustice and inequality. These problems may intensify to such an extent that the existence  of human race will face the toughest test.
Global terrorism  
In recent years talk of global terrorism is so common that any counter-argument about it  is difficult. Terrorism has been called the shadow of the process of globalization. As the world is becoming one place, so it is that the effects of terrorism have global effects. But puzzles the thinking mind is  that propaganda and reality about it  are often disconnected. Because often the powerful initiates the fear and suspicion about it and then their overwhelming propaganda machine go into overdrive. Any contrary idea and evidence is carefully stooped and eradicated. The thinking mind so question about the truth of all these. It has been seen the death and  destruction associated with this terrorism often help the accusers and propagandists. So many have suspected if the whole scenarios is orchestrated carefully only to  help their interest. The victims are common man.  
It is particularly discernible in the Muslim world. People in Palestine, Bosnia, Afghanistan or Iraq are victims interventions and aggressions of the powerful. Curiously  United States is everywhere either in the name of  protecting  its people and economic interests or to restore and establish democracy. But no where these are evident. Say for example, the two countries of Libya and Iraq which were throbbing with developments and enviable economic progress faced the intervention and the two counties are no all but destroyed.  
Globalization and problems of economic integration
A major facet of globalization is the massive increase in international trade that we have witnessed in recent years. This process has been encouraged by institutions such as the World Trade Organization, boosted by regional trading blocks such as the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and further facilitated by trade agreements between individual nations. The benefits of international trade are many, i.e. competition, lower consumer prices, increased consumer choice and the increased availability of goods and services.
One of the direct results of globalization and the international market is the flow of labour around the world as people migrate to find work. This mass migration of people is made up of those people going to countries where their skills are most in demand and those people who are escaping poverty and countries with high unemployment. This is accompanied by problems of labour exploitation and difficulties arising from the integration of guest workers into foreign lands. Also friction can emerge from the competition for jobs and resources such as housing, between local populations and the migrants. There are many other problems relating to the planet wide economic integration   include things like unfair trade practices, tariffs, quotas and government subsidies.
Contd on page 50

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