With the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, one thing that has become vivid is, almost every local phenomenon has a global impact. Though, this facet of reality had surfaced itself right in the first quarter of twentieth century through World War 1 which was triggered by a singular event i.e. the assassination of Austrian archduke and his wife by a Bosnian revolutionary. But we failed to realize it. And though the term ‘glocalization’ was first coined in Harvard Business Review, in 1980, by sociologist Roland Robertson, according to whom it meant “the simultaneity—the co-presence—of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies,” the full understanding of this phenomenon has just been truly realized, or has it been?
There were various events in 20th and later on in 21st century through which the true impact of glocalization along with its dangers should have been gauged, but alas! To gravely and villainously err is human. The nuclear attacks on Japan should have awoken the world, and world should have stopped this menace from proliferating but this couldn’t be the case.
There were people like Albert Einstein who opposed such a fatal adventure in human history but their cries never moved a mole. The Cuban missiles controversy in 1962 had brought the world on the brink of an absolute destruction when two world powers USA and USSR confronted each other for thirteen days and threatened each other with nuclear attacks, with literally fingers on missile launch buttons, leaving the fate of whole world on the mercy of movement of a single hand in a launching room. But we were saved, thanks to Kennedy- Khrushchev agreement. We should have understood it there. We didn’t.
Industrialization and insane fossil fueled energy consumption of the first world countries has dragged the whole planet earth to the edge of irreversible environmental crisis. Take for example statistics given on US Environment Protection Agency website. CO2 (76%) and Methane (16%) contribute mainly to global greenhouse gas emissions. In the year 2014 only, five first world countries (China, US, EU, Russia, Japan) contributed 63% of global carbon emissions through fossil fuel combustion and industrial process with India and other countries contributing the remaining 37%. NOAA’s Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii measures global carbon levels on daily basis. The unit for CO2 measurement is ‘parts per million’ or ppm.
Before 1960, the concentration of carbon on planet earth was well below 320 ppm but on April sixteenth this year, we hit the 417 ppm mark. One must note that, these levels are highest in the three million years history of planet earth. Even in 2010, the carbon levels were 391 ppm. It should have been enough to save the planet on emergency basis. We lagged behind.
The same EPA website tells that the greenhouse gases are emitted mainly due to the following economic sectors: electricity and heat production (25%), agriculture, forestry and other land use (24%), industry (21%), transportation (14%), buildings (6%) and other energies (10%). By the time Paris agreement was signed in 2015 in order to take measures against environmental degradation, probably it was too late and anyway the materialization of this agreement didn’t start too well keeping in view President Trump’s claims to back off from this agreement and his cronies along with him giving an impression of denying anything called global warming. So, it really wasn’t a lesson learnt well in time.
Similarly, several other viruses besides Covid-19 had broken out in different parts of the world earlier with a capacity to spread globally but the world seemed to care little about them. For example, Spanish flu in 1918, Marburg Virus in 1967 in Germany, SARS-CoV-1 in South China in 2002, Ebola virus in Western Africa mainly and later in other countries in 2014-2016, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERs-CoV) in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and then in South Korea in 2015. The outbreak of these lethal viruses should have rung the bells. But, we were oblivious to all the impending dangers. Just a few cries here and there and all was good later on every single time.
All of these evils, nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), global warming, virus outbreaks; they don’t respect any religions, borders, nationality or race, and nor do they distinguish between the rich and the poor. It is the highest time in the history of humankind that we understood this simple fact: we’re almost doomed. A little optimism is fine but we’re literally on the verge of a colossal collapse.
The only thing that might lessen the looming catastrophe is the realization that all the systems of government hitherto, be it capitalism, totalitarianism, orthodox socialism, offer no help in current crisis. The only thing that can save the human race today is coordinated, multi-national and borderless endeavors. Right after this pandemic ends, the world governments, in collaboration, have to, and I repeat HAVE TO, smartly cut the emissions of carbon and methane down to pre-industrial times in less than a decade, eradicate the evil of nuclear weapons, ensure a more equal world with fair distribution of resources, and a robust global health program potent enough to contain global crisis like Covid-19.
The first three measures seem to be extremely hard to achieve as major world powers exhibit sluggishness in achieving the goals set in Paris agreement, and with world leaders like US president Trump and Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who happen to care the least about the environment, playing the role of clowns on the world stage.
One must not forget what encouraging and fueling role Bolsonaro and his extremist environment minister Ricardo Salles played in Amazon fires. Second, getting the nuclear states to destroy their nukes and WMDs along with nuclear facilities is something as hard as cleaning Augean stables.
Thirdly, the growing economic and environmental degradation might send some of the countries entirely flooded or sunk forever, or some other countries might face extreme famines which will cause mass migrations from one part of the world to other. The governments need to take measures well in time. Again, the fair and equal distribution of resources seems to be a long Labyrinthine.
All said, though it is a Herculean task to achieve all of it, but if the world and humankind have to survive, we have to make a way even if there’s no hope. We have to move on even if there’s too little optimism to support us. We still need to have what Slavoj Zizek calls ‘courage of hopelessness’ when he says “the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is probably the headlight of another train approaching.” Believe it or not, this is the new realism today; this is the new pragmatism today. The world plunged itself into nationalism after French revolution in 1789 and has almost given doom a kiss of death. It is time for internationalism to step in and save humanity.