Fatal combinations

Author: Metta Spencer

Get up! Our house is on fire!” a thirteen-year-old girl calls out. Exactly. Get up! We adults have been acting as if there were no emergency, although we are confronting the hardest challenge in human history. So, get up! Hurry!

We must rouse all the other grown-ups too and do everything possible to save the world from six potential catastrophes: militarism (the foolish reliance on weapons and warfare for security); the climate crisis; and four other impending threats—famine; pandemics; massive radiation exposure; and cyberattacks.

These are all real risks and we caused them all, so it’s up to us to handle them. And we may fail. But after all, the most interesting problems are the hard ones. As John Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Saving the world will be even harder. But just as much fun!

Okay, What Shall We do?

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Notes

  1. PBS News Hour, “Did Food Prices Spur the Arab Spring?” Sept 2, 2011, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/world-july-dec11-food_09-07  (back)
  2. Lina Eklund and Darcy Thompson, “Is Syria Really a ‘Climate War’? We Examined the Links Between Drought, Migration and conflict,” The Conversation, July 21, 2017. https://theconversation.com/is-syria-really-a-climate-war-we-examined-the-links-between-drought-migration-and-conflict-80110  (back)
  3. “How to Think About Global Warming and War: They are Linked — and That is Worrying.” The Economist, May 23, 2019. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/05/25/how-to-think-about-global-warming-and-war  (back)
  4. “World Military Expenditure Grows to $1.8 trillion in 2018.” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), report. https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2019/world-military-expenditure-grows-18-trillion-2018  (back)
  5. Florian Polsterer, “Militarism and Climate Change: The Elephant in the Living Room,” Student Energy, https://www.studentenergy.org/blog/428-militarism-and-climate-change-the-elephant-in-the-living-room  (back)
  6. Jenni Lee, “How Can We Track Progress on the SDGs? Here’s How,” United Nations Foundation, https://unfoundation.org/blog/post/how-can-we-track-progress-on-the-sdgs-heres-how/  (back)
  7. Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. (Oxford, New York: Clarendon Press Oxford University Press, 1982).  (back)
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  10. “Saudi Arabia ‘deliberately targeting impoverished Yemen’s farms and agricultural industry'”. The Independent, 5 June 2018.  (back)
  11. Chris R Albon, “Is Famine a Crime Against Humanity?” UN Dispatch, Oct t6, 2011. https://www.undispatch.com/should-famine-be-a-crime-against-humanity/. See also Alex de Waal, Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine (London: Polity, 2018).  (back)
  12. Infoplease. https://www.infoplease.com/world/population-statistics/total-population-world-decade-1950-2050  (back)
  13. Julian Cribb, “The Coming Famine: Risks and Solutions for Global Food Security,” Science Alert, April 18, 2010. https://www.sciencealert.com/the-coming-famine-risks-and-solutions-for-global-food-security  (back)
  14. United Nations Meetings Coverage and Press Releases, “Devastating Impacts of Climate Change Threatening Farm Outputs, Increasing Global Hunger, Delegates Say as Second Committee Takes UP Agriculture, Food Security,” Oct 12, 2018. https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/gaef3499.doc.htm  (back)
  15. Spanish Flu, History.com. https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/1918-flu-pandemic  (back)
  16. William Trent, William Trent’s Journal at Fort Pitt.   (back)
  17. Stanford University, “The Collision of Civil War and Threat of Global Pandemics,” October 19, 2017. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-10-collision-civil-war-threat-global.html  (back)
  18. Lena H Sun, “Bill Gates Calls on U.S to Lead Fight Against a Pandemic That Could Kill 33 Million.” The Washington Post, April 27, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/04/27/bill-gates-calls-on-u-s-to-lead-fight-against-a-pandemic-that-could-kill-millions/?utm_term=.1af60469de3d  (back)
  19. Laura H. Kahn, One Health: And the Politics of Antimicrobial Resistance. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2016).   (back)
  20. Maggie O’Neill, “A Deadly Superbug Fungus Called Candida Auris Has Been Detected in 12 States — Here’s What You Need to Know,” Explore Health, May 16, 2019. https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/candida-auris-hospitals  (back)
  21. Sarah Pruitt, “How Colonization’s Death Toll May Have Affected Earth’s Climate,” History Stories, https://www.history.com/news/climate-change-study-colonization-death-farming-collapse  (back)
  22. World Health Organization, “Famine and Health,” https://www.who.int/emergencies/humanitarian-emergencies/famine/en/  (back)
  23. NASA Earth Observatory, “Volcanoes and Climate Change,” Sept. 5, 2000. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Volcano  (back)
  24. Andrea Peterson, “The Sony Pictures Hack, Explained.” The Washington Post, Dec. 18, 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/12/18/the-sony-pictures-hack-explained/  (back)
  25. Tarah Wheeler, “In Cyberwar, There Are No Rules,” Foreign Policy, Sept. 12, 2018. https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/12/in-cyberwar-there-are-no-rules-cybersecurity-war-defense/  (back)
  26. ICRC, IHL Database, “Customary IHL. Rule 28: Medical Units.” https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_rul_rule28  (back)
  27. Nicole Wetsman, “Health Care’s Huge Cybersecurity Problem.” The Verge, April 4, 2019. https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/4/18293817/cybersecurity-hospitals-health-care-scan-simulation  (back)
  28. “Cyber-attack cost NHS £92m – DHSC”. Health Service Journal. 11 October 2018.   (back)
  29. “White House says WannaCry attack was carried out by North Korea”. CBS News. 19 December 2017.  (back)
  30. Kim Zetter, “Hospital Viruses: Fake Cancerous Nodes in CT Scans, Created by Malware, Trick Radiologists.” The Washington Post, April 3, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/04/03/hospital-viruses-fake-cancerous-nodes-ct-scans-created-by-malware-trick-radiologists/?utm_term=.bd283b4d7c4c  (back)

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