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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 10 New Delhi February 23, 2019

Crucial Concept of Earth’s Survival Crisis

Sunday 24 February 2019, by Bharat Dogra


To understand the very critical times through which all inhabitants of planet earth are passing, the concept of a survival crisis is of crucial importance. Briefly, this concept refers to a range of serious problems which taken together can badly disrupt the special life-nurturing conditions of earth due to which such a wide diversity of life has flourished here. This disruption can take place within the 21st century, in fact as early as within the next few decades. Several very senior scientists have argued along these lines in several statements in recent times.

The serious problems which constitute the survival crisis include nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction including robot or AI weapons, climate change, ocean acidification, freshwater crisis, air pollution, disruption of food safety and around half-a-dozen other serious environmental problems. Most discussion on these dozen or so survival problems takes place in isolation from each other but in the practical world we are more likely to face the combined threat of several of them taken together, increasing the risks.

From the point of the welfare of all living beings on earth, this survival crisis constituted by all these problems taken together is clearly the most important issue. This is true for this generation but this is even more true regarding the welfare of future generations, our children and grandchildren as well as the next generations of other life-forms.

The present world leadership and international institutions have miserably failed to find timely and credible solutions for this survival crisis taken as a whole. There are several statements by leading scientists, experts and statesmen testifying to this. In fact some of the problems which constitute the survival crisis have worsened rapidly in the recent past.

Where then can we find hope? In my recent book on these issues, titled Survival Crisis: Planet in Peril—People’s Response Only Way Forward (Vitasta Publishers, Delhi), I have argued that the greatest importance must now be accorded at the world level to finding solutions within the framework of justice, democracy and peace. While very significant reforms in governance at the world level are needed to find and implement solutions which work, these can come only if there is a great resurgence of people’s movements at the grassroots and a yearning for social values in tune with the big challenges ahead. More specifically, I have suggested the coming together of the movements of justice (including gender justice), peace, environment protection, democracy and sincere spirituality to make it possible for people to respond adequately to the challenges ahead. It is tough, but it is possible.

The author is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements and initiatives.

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