In the past one week, a Facebook post a very US centric view of 85 years of life of a person born in 1900. It highlights all the major events that affected people and countries and seeks to show how our lives are so much better now.
My initial reaction was to agree with the premise but as I keep thinking about it I realize the globalised world from 1985 have seen worse events that are not easily discernible but is working against most of humanity that our collective consciousness is too dumbed to realize.
So here try and look at the financial, health and geo-political events that my young daughter born after 1985 has to go through in her young life –
1986 – Chernobyl nuclear meltdown -16000 to 60000 dead or badly affected. Millions of people continue to live with cancer caused by the radiation in the region.
2011 – Fukushima, Japan, nuclear explosions caused by the earthquake and flooding. Almost 20000 killed and thousands rendered homeless.
India and Pakistan both acquire nuclear weapons.
1991 – the first Gulf War, Operation Desert shield / Storm – a US collation led war in the Middle East targeting Iraq for its annexation of Kuwait, so as to protect its oil resources of Saudi and other countries in the region. By this time warfare technology had changed a lot from WW2. Dead’s were lower but costs higher. The genesis for instability in the Middle East.
2003 – the invasion of Iraq by far away United States and tens of other allies impoverished the people and lit the ambers of terror and became a bedrock of tension and tussle based on religion. It was a war to finish all mass destruction weapons but other than Tony Blair, the British PM losing his job, nothing much came of it for the perpetrators. Of course the defense bills shot up and healthcare bills were being pushed out or to the private insurers.
Kargil, Chinese & Russian incursions into neighbouring countries, Syria, Iraqi bombings, Afghanistan invasions.
Financial/ Economic crises
1997 – Asian financial crises which broke the back of all the south East Asian countries and put a break on the accelerated growth of these markets and made capital scare and expensive.
2002 – financial crises that bankrupted Argentina, global recession that caused upheavals in US, Canada, Russia, Europe. The bursting of the dot com bubble, accounting scandals of large US firms that rocked the world’s financial markets.
2008 financial crises from greed of Wall Street and their brothers across the world, which brought almost every country to its weak knees. Big ticket consultants who were profiting from others losing their jobs and their homes.
2002 – The year that saw the ugly head of SARS a CoV virus originating from an animal and transmitted to humans in China. Affected 26 countries and caused thousands of death.
2009 – H1N1 pandemic originated in the US and spread worldwide killing an estimated half a million people and another affected 60 million.
Avian flu, seasonal flu, respiratory problems, allergies etc. take the lives of millions every year.
Cancer cases have only risen in all parts of the world. Newer and rarer strains that healthcare systems can’t handle.
2019-20 – Novel Coronavirus Covid19 and the pandemic that has brought the whole world into a lockdown.
2001 – Osama bin Laden summersaulted into our lives with unimaginable terror unleashed at the center of power on 11th September and which heralded the invasion of Afghanistan to look for Al Qaida. It also changed the way we travel and led to other terror organizations taking roots in various parts of the world.
2008 and after – The Mumbai terror attack of 26/11, explosions in Nairobi, Paris, London, Copenhagen, Auckland, shootings in schools and colleges across the US and so on.
2004- for the first time we heard the word Tsunami used outside of a Quiz show! The tsunami that originated in Indonesia and reached India and Sri Lanka in one large wave, that left countries in its path in shambles for years thereafter. There were 250000 deaths from 14 countries and untold economic and psychological pain.
Unprecedented floods, typhoons , hurricanes across the globe. Climate change and pollution that has made many live forms extinct.
Forest/Bush fires in the Amazon, Australia, California, volcanic eruptions in Iceland, New Zealand.
The Carbon footprint looms large caused by private jets, excessive commercial flying, consumerism, growing private transport instead of public, polluting industries and what have you.
The world in the last 35 years, bears witness to numerous lifestyle related diseases – obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stress and what we eat may actually not be real food!
Emotional crises of loneliness , depression, ADD, respiratory problems, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders all show their ugly heads in various countries.
Expenditure on defense/wars has increased for almost all countries while universal healthcare seems almost like a dream.
Surveillance and personal data collection from social media, our digital footprint and other mandatory government identifications means that privacy is an oxymoron. Assange and Snowden languish in exile. The message being, toe the official line and dare not blow that whistle.
Nearly eight billion people live on the earth putting a great strain on resources, space, food and jobs.
While most of these may not appear as dramatic as the World Wars, be aware that they come in very quick succession, the environment is in shambles, climate change is real, bio-wars may be as true as the sci-fi books predicted, inequities are widening beyond anyone’s imagination and unemployment remains at record high levels.
Finally, not to mention that artificial intelligence, ML and technology is making jobs fewer and for very specific skills, Labour laws protect the billionaire capitalists, governments abdicate their responsibilities to billionaires whose powers far outweighs those of the elected representatives.
Covid19 is not an unfortunate event but an outcome of acts of commission and omission; in high places. Even democratic countries shed their garb of transparency and take on fascistic tones, under the skin surveillance is made to look like it’s in our interest and the solutions for a pandemic are in the hands of large corporations who can make a killing from this calamity.
If this is something I’m supposed to be proud of leaving for my daughter, I better go and get my head examined.