If we can’t come together on COVID, these disasters will follow

New Netflix Movies Don’t look up is a starry fable about climate change. The world faces a clear and imminent threat, and the question the film raises is: Can we overcome it? narrow self-interest of politicians, the business community and individual countries to defeat the threat we face together? Are there too many people in the world too gullible and passive to demand the right actions from their leaders?

In the case of the film, it doesn’t give too much to show that getting it right is a challenge. The film isn’t just an allegory about our inertia when it comes to a worsening, almost irreversible climate crisis – it’s a reminder that the idea that the planet will effectively uniting for the sake of self-preservation is a romantic myth in itself.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that genuine global cooperation is more far-fetched and out of reach than ever before.

It was a very different kind of Hollywood production, President Ronald Reagan, who – along with Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev – helped promote this image of an enlightened global community. During a 1985 summit in Geneva, their conversation took a strange turn. As Gorbachev himself put it, “President Reagan suddenly said to me, ‘What would you do if the United States was suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Do you help us? ”Gorbachev replied, “There is no doubt. ” Reagan replied, “So are we.”

Our modern experience with shared existential threats tells a different story.

Of course, the climate crisis is part of the story. The ancient Greeks speculated whether deforestation or draining marshes might affect rainfall. However, warnings that humans can cause global warming by creating carbon dioxide have been around for a long time. 19th century scientists understood the concept, and in 1896, Svante Arrhenius published The first article explicitly warns of this threat.

We know the rest of the story. Although scientists today largely agree that global warming is real, its consequences can be profoundly disturbing – costing billions of dollars and threatening millions of lives – the government on planet Earth has gone too slow. Just in the past year, we exceed the warming targets set during the 2015 Paris climate talks, we’ve seen record heat, faster sea level rise, shrinking polar ice caps and brutal weather… and the COP 26 negotiations in Edinburgh still produce amazing results.

In the United States, Senator Joe Manchin and his GOP allies blocked new major funding for climate programs — and he actively protect the outstanding interests of fossil fuels in his hometown of West Virginia. We could be on the road to a seven-foot rise in sea levels at the end of the century and right now it doesn’t look like we can reverse those trends.

Other existential climate-related threats — from water shortages to famine — often trigger conflict rather than cooperation between neighboring states. To make matters worse, most of our international institutions are designed to be weak – to let big countries like the United States do it their way, supporting the initiatives of a few countries. wealthy, and unable to effectively impose their will on individual nations. As a result, many responses to global threats are weak or ad hoc.

But it’s not just the climate. Another existential threat we have faced for nearly eight decades is nuclear weapons. We know that nuclear war would be terrible and that a nuclear exchange between superpowers like the US and Russia or China could destroy the planet. While we have agreements on weapons and efforts to prevent the proliferation of such weapons, look at the headlines. Iran is about to achieve the capability to build a nuclear warhead. North Korea regularly reminds us that it has joined the nuclear club. Israel and India have had such weapons half a century ago. Pakistan did in 1998.

Today, there are more than 13,000 nuclear warheads known to exist worldwide, nearly 12,000 of which belong to the US and Russia. Furthermore, we have let several key arms deals lapse in recent years and have made precious little progress toward the big, bold ideas that enlightened self-interest (or perhaps reason). often) can offer, like the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, there have been proponents, such as former President Trump, of investing in “smaller” nuclear weapons – meaning easier to use – which would increase the risk that we must face to face. In other words, more than three-quarters of a century after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of nuclear disaster remains and in many respects it is getting worse.

And you’d be very disappointed if you thought we had good global mechanisms in place to tackle next-generation threats from cyberspace to AI-powered weapons to biological warfare.

COVID-19, of course, is another threat that has defied cooperation for nearly two years of death and despair.

For all the rhetoric about the need for global solutions, the international community’s response to stopping the spread of the pandemic has not been enough. The US has committed more than 1 billion doses of medicine to the international community, but the need is probably Fold 11 times. Even those commitments are slow in delivery and distribution. Countries, including the US, have carefully built stockpiles of vaccines, testing and PPE before sharing them with other countries.

The result has been large outbreaks in the developing world, where it is estimated that the poorest countries may not receive a vaccine until 2023. Only a small percentage of people in those countries have been vaccinated. inject even one dose of the vaccine. While vaccinating half the world’s population is not an achievement that should be minimized, the reality is 40 countries vaccinated less than a quarter of their population. Other problems such as export bans, production levels, intellectual property barriers, and supply chain bottlenecks are all solvable, but are often seen by industries or politicians as acting like the bad guys. problem in Don’t look up do: based on self-interest, ignorance, or a malicious combination of the two.

The result, of course, is the emergence of new variants in unvaccinated areas of the world, eventually affecting the entire planet and prolonging the pandemic. For Americans, the shortsightedness of government leaders is all too familiar. While the Biden Administration has done a remarkable job in vaccinating Americans, it has faced resistance at every step of the way from red state governors who seem willing to make sacrifices their people to flirt with the leaders of their party and the most extreme elements of their base. Vaccines and know-how are available everywhere. But people living in counties voted for Donald Trump almost three times are as likely to die from COVID-19 as those in areas that voted for President Biden.

There you have it in miniature. If the United States cannot work together to combat the disease that has infected more than 50 million Americans and killed an estimated 825,000, how can we expect planet earth to do even better? You would think survival is important enough to see through our differences. Obviously not.

Higher life forms elsewhere in the universe would certainly look at this and take it as an invitation, Reagan and Gorbachev were wrong. We are not a planet capable of coming together to wage many wars against alien invaders.. If we can’t come together on COVID, these disasters will follow


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