“History helps us recognize the mistakes that we’ve made and the dark corners of the human spirit that we need to guard against.” - Barack Obama
If it feels like the world is speeding toward self-destruction, it’s because it is. Let us be clear: there is no way to avoid the coming global warming catastrophe. Planet Earth and Life will survive, although we will have killed most animal species (the Anthropocene extinction). By the way, it is worth mentioning here that Life seems to be, as far as our limited knowledge of space is, unique. But today’s best case scenario will still destroy the Earth: all the humans can do is to mitigate the effects on their own civilization.
But at this critical point in history, the ‘world order’ is slowly disintegrating: the US is retreating while regional powers are asserting themselves. Many countries are entering into deep political crisis, especially across the Middle East and poor countries. National instability will be compounded by the effects of global warming, threatening food security and unleashing ever larger natural disasters. Large parts of the world won’t be able to support the local population, putting additional migration pressures on developed countries. This will have powerful political consequences.
Europe is the continent most at risk because of its proximity with zones at most risk (Middle East and Africa), along with land connections with South West Asia. The continent is already beefing up its borders while trying to reach agreements with neighboring countries to reduce the migrants flow. In time, it will become ‘Fortress Europe’ once again. Other developed countries will experience the same pressures, but their geographical features (‘islands’) mean that they will be able to manage the flow more easily.
And this flow needs to be checked. The claim that Europe needs immigration in order to grow is misleading: Europe needs skilled workers, not poor peasants, to manage its social security claims. The continent needs income growth and wealth creation, not additional pressure on the lowest paid jobs. Given the current high rate of unemployment of (skilled) youth in Southern Europe, we find it quite revolting that pundits still lobby for more immigration.
Of course, there is a big difference between legal and illegal immigration. Legal immigration policies should continue to attract talents that can add value to their host countries. But in countries such as the USA and Australia, the ‘working visas’ have been widely abused by employers looking for cheap employees. It would be surprising that European working visas were not widely abused as well.
To conclude, the world is not coming to an end. But part of it is. We need to realize that the relative period of ‘peace’ and stability is rapidly morphing into an unpredictable, regionally driven world. In this light, trends that have come to symbolize our progress can be reversed: inter-state wars, epidemics, and authoritarian regimes may rise again. History does not move in a straight line and this time is no different.
Largest Ever Group of Scientists Issues Humanity an Urgent Warning: Time Is Running Out – Scientists: Population Growth “Primary Driver Behind Ecological and Societal Threats” – Some 15,000 scientists (and counting) signed a letter to warn their fellow humans that time is running out to mitigate the catastrophic effects of global warming. The last letter was published in 1992 and only one of the targets has been achieved since then.
“Natural Gas” Has No Climate Benefit, Will Make Things Worse – Just another scam. Natural gas is just as bad as other fossil fuels since methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and that leaks throughout the production chain are negating any potential benefits of cleaner exhausts. To reduce carbon emissions, it’s probably about time to acknowledge that we need to phase out fossil fuels, not use different ones.
Uber and SoftBank Might Finally Have a Deal….But What Does It Mean? – Softbank’s potential investment in Uber is difficult to read given the various challenges: a divided board, no path to profitability, a weird deal structure, and plenty of lawsuits.
Unicorns: What Are They Really Worth? – The short answer: about 50% less than publicly advertised. The high valuation numbers are a trick used to bring in investors, who are then locked into complicated financial structures and poor exit prospects as IPOs usually value ‘Unicorns’ at least 20% of their peak valuation.
The Demise of Dissent: Why the Web Is Becoming Homogenized – Since Facebook and Google effectively control (90%+) the online advertising, independent websites must either put themselves at the mercy of the web giants or try to survive on their own. Caught between the ‘fake news’ algorithms and idiotic content, these websites are disappearing, leading the web to become more homogeneous than ever.
How Despair Helped Drive Trump to Victory – Trump didn’t perform well compared to previous Republican candidates, but still managed to win a few states by appealing to citizens living in former industrial, mining, and manufacturing cities, and that are now struggling with opioids, lack of job opportunities and under investment.
Senior Saudi figures tortured and beaten in purge – Greed and intrigue grip Saudi Arabia – By attacking the 3 pillars of Saudi Arabia (Saud family, Islamic foundation of the state and loyal domestic businesses), MBS is playing with fire. His bold attempts at reforming society and the economy create massive risks due to rising unemployment and opposition from conservative clerics, potentially undermining his future.
Leaked Documents Expose Stunning Plan to Wage Financial War on Qatar — and Steal the World Cup – Leaked documents show planned collusion between a dirty bank and a shady UAE diplomat to wage economic warfare on Qatar. The plans are now obviously compromised meaning they are unlikely to be acted, but they’ll probably further worsen the relationships between Qatar and its neighbors.
The World Needs to Prepare for ‘Peaked China’ – China won’t be a global superpower because of simple facts: its debt driven growth will end like the others, with anemic economic growth, meaning the country will get old before it gets rich (unlike Japan) and it won’t be able to project military power like the USA due to the high spending requirements.
Beijing vies for greater control of foreign universities in China – Beijing just required foreign funded universities to establish party units and give a board sit to party member. Given that boards of trustees need unanimous approval to hire seniors and allocate budgets, this new policy threatens academic freedom of foreign universities and school JVs in China. Any country operating too closely with China is at the risk of a ‘quiet coup’, whereby strong economic interests will eventually put independence in jeopardy by a combination of threats, policies and retaliation moves. Just ask Australia.
Picture of the week: Diesel Rainbow (Wikicommons)
About Carlito Riego
"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi