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Global warming, increasing inequality, and new ‘Cold war’

13 December 2021 12:02 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The world today is facing a number of major issues. The spread of the coronavirus which has already led to 269 million infections worldwide, and 5.3 million deaths within the past year.

Global warming/the long-term man-made heating of Earth’s climate which the UN says is spiralling out of control is certain to bring further climate disruptions for possibly centuries, to come.


The deadly heat waves, hurricanes and other weather extremes that are already happening will only become more severe.Once-in-50-year heat waves now happening every decade the world body has pointed out. Just yesterday, more than 70 people died in tornadoes in the US state of Kentucky and at least 12 others died as tornadoes wreaked havoc in other states.
Inequality between the rich and the poor is increasing. The latest World Inequality Report flags global inequalities remain extremely pronounced: It adds they are about as great today, as they were at the peak of Western imperialism in the early 20th century. Data shows that the top 1% took 38% of all additional wealth accumulated since the mid-1990s, with an acceleration since 2020. Wealth inequality remains at extreme levels in all regions. For instance in India the top 10% took 57% of national income in 2021, and the bottom 50% had just 13%.


According to the World Bank, between 88 and 115 million people are being pushed into poverty as a result of the crisis, with the majority of the new extreme poor being found in South Asian and Sub-Saharan countries where poverty rates are already high”. In 2021, this number had risen to between 143 and 163 million. These ‘new poor’ will join the ranks of the 1.3 billion people already living in multidimensional and persistent poverty who saw their pre-existing deprivations aggravated during the global pandemic. 


In our own country where the Covid-19 has left in its trail job losses and enforced pay cuts, experts are warning of further escalation of prices in basic food requirements including the cost of vegetables and other basics. While this witches brew is on the boil, international experts are warning a new ‘Cold War’ is becoming a distinct possibility’.
The first Cold War - in the aftermath of World War II - divided the world into two power blocs on issues concerning the social and economic organisation of societies. One dominated by the US and its western allies, the one hand and countries coming under then USSR on the other. It was also a time when enslaved countries were fighting to overthrow the shackles of imperialism. The US and its allies backed the imperialists and the USSR supporting those struggling to overthrow the oppressors.


The first Cold War ended with the fall of the then USSR – the United Soviet Socialist Republic - in 1991. During the cold War period while, the main protagonists (the US and USSR) did not come into conflict directly with each other, they carried out proxy battles via countries newly emerging from imperial domination, which led to much death and destruction in these states.
For example in Angola, the US backed the terrorist Jonas Savimbia and his group UNITA against forces of the Marxist-led government. Savimbia continued to wage a disruptive guerrilla war against the MPLA throughout the 1970s and ’80s until a split within the UNITA led to his death in April 2002.


For two generations, hundreds of thousands of Angolan peasants were killed, wounded and displaced. Tens of thousands of children, boys and girls, were kidnapped and forced into UNITA’s army as porters, sex slaves or fighters. At independence Angola, despite its enormous oil wealth and diamond fields, was in economic and social ruin. Similarly in Vietnam, US attempts to prevent a Marxist regime in that country left hundreds of thousands dead and wounded, and targeted its population with weapons of mass destruction.
Today with China’s rise as an economic and military superpower, we appear to be once again witnessing attempts to divide countries into militarized zones. Japan, Australia and India are being pressurised to join military alliances like the QUAD -a military formation between the US, India, Japan and Australia -a response to increased Chinese economic and military power. Nor do we need a creation of divisions in the South China Sea basin.


Fortunately India has shown itself capable of taking decisions based on its own security needs. Its refusal to accept US unilateral decisions, as was shown its rejection of a US ban on accepting advanced military technology from Russia.
Today the world needs to unite to overcome problems of climate change, poverty, the pandemic and inequality. We do not need disruptive forces taking attention away from people’s needs.


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