Prepare to be scared.
Most of us realise we live in a dangerous world – every day we wake up to news of one catastrophe after another: bomb explosions, rampaging gunmen, coups, forest fires etc. Where the cause of these disasters is natural (earthquakes, floods) there is not much the authorities can do about it, appart from taking some preventive measures. But in the case of man-made catastrophes, such as terrorist attacks, cataclysmic economic failures, the refugee crisis – it is amazing that every single time the authorities appear stumped and stupefied. They seem to find even perceptible problems impossible to predict; and, when something does happens, they try to bolt the stable door after the proverbial horse has fled, making speeches of regret and apology, and promising to alleviate the victims’ sufferings (unreliably) and manage things better next time (improbably).
To my knowledge, nobody had predicted the three major disasters of the last fifteen years (the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001, the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, and the Arab Spring uprising in 2011), despite the existence of (highly-paid) analysts and think-tanks. On the other hand, when people make predictions, they often prove unfounded. For instance, P. Kennedy in his book ‘The rise and fall of the great powers’, had foreseen the decline of the USA. Instead, Russia disintegrated, leaving the USA as the dominant world power.
In an article written for the Books’ Journal, Greek professor P. K. Ioakimidis points all this out, and goes on to anticipate some possible major threats for the years to come:
The disintegration of the EU, which is experiencing an unprecedented crisis, enhanced by Brexit (see J. R. Gillingham’s ‘The EU, an obituary’).
An attack from Russia on Europe. Unlikely, perhaps, but not impossible (given Putin’s exploits in the Ukraine, Crimea and Georgia).
Nuclear war involving the US, Russia and China. A nightmarish scenario, but can an accident be precluded?
Use of the atom bomb by terrorists. Another apocalyptic development, should they happen to get hold of a dirty bomb and unleash it on a major capital city.
Revolution or civil war in China. China is going through a difficult transition, with all the dangers this entails. And the country is too big to be totally controllable.
Civil war in India, between Muslims and Hindus. This would cause huge repercussions worldwide because of the enormous population.
Revolution in Saudi Arabia, which is a very closed society with hidden undercurrents.
The globalization of the Islam conflict with the West.
A major technological accident either in the sector of physics or in the sector of biology.
Hopefully, none of these fears will come to pass. Or, maybe something completely different will happen, with unforeseen consequences upon the world as we know it. As we speak, the increasing shifts in populations and the spread of terrorism, whether we want to acknowledge it or not – whether we believe it is our problem or not – are two things that have already had a major impact on most of our lives.
In Greece, at the moment, we are experiencing at first hand two potentially life-altering events:
The first is the changing in the climate. All the Mediterranean region will eventually become sub-tropical. This apparently is due less to carbon emissions by cars, cows farting, aerosol cans, etc than to the effect of all the wars in the Middle East.
The second is the influx of a huge amount of foreigners, of a totally different culture, religion, and language, upon a population of eleven million, of which one are already immigrants. These have been remarkably well assimilated, so far, but there will soon be real issues of percentages, as well as of limited resources.
I wonder what everyone thinks about this – perhaps I am exaggerating, but it does frighten me to see how relatively little is done about all these issues. And history is not very reassuring, either.