As a realist optimist in a post pandemic world, I foresee a new world order where societies and nations are remodelling and realigning to a more resilient and more forward looking future driven by science, reason, and faith.
Lest we forget, in the killing fields of a different kind we have faced climate change during the ice ages and in the last 2000 years of our existence, mankind has confronted more than 20 different epidemics and has lost over 400 million lives.
In the next few decades, more than a quarter-million people may die each year as a result of climate change, according to a new review study. The World Health Organization (WHO) had estimated that climate change would lead to about 250,000 more deaths each year between 2030 and 2050, from factors such as malnutrition, heat stress and malaria. The study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, considers this as a conservative estimate also noting that reduced food production alone is predicted to lead to a net increase of 529,000 adult deaths in next three decades. Climate change could also force more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030, apart from health vulnerabilities to the rest according to World Bank estimates underscoring the need for investments and policies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and promote ways to mitigate the health effects of climate change.
Additionally, as we confront the unprecedented Novel Corona or the COVID19 epidemic outbreak, it is estimated that we may lose over 2.5 million lives with over 15 million infected even as the vaccines roll out. How vulnerable mankind is even in this day and the times? Yes, in this age communicable diseases still contribute 30% of disease burden across the globe. Indeed, hundreds of epidemics occur each year and we fail to respond and contain most of them. Apart from various biological, technological, and behavioural public health interventions, we need to closely look at the societal, economic, and structural interventions, to review our social and health system preparedness.
Thus, humanity faces a fast forward being on crossroads for the first time in this century and the choices we make will be a turning point to shape our future, for generations to come that goes much beyond the immediate threat we confront. Indeed, as we face the pandemic and climate change, to inherit a world that is disease free, carbon neutral and does not turn into an ecocide, is an obligation that we owe to our future generations. Of course, we will pass this storm, but the world will never be the same again as the real dangers from dangerous decisions, knee jerk reactions and random technologies that will be pressed for fear of doing nothing do remain bigger. We face difficult choices such as draconian geo tagging, surveillance before freedom and citizen empowerment reminding us of George Orwellian prophecy.
A struggle between nationalism, isolation, global comradery and solidarity has already ensued whence large scale and real time social experimentation on human psychology and social behaviour are being conducted by governments. These are not normal times where work from home, distance and online mode become the new normal even for schools and universities, governments, and businesses. In these precarious times we do realize that our health and families come first, we more than ever before believe in faith as also trust science and technology. Though superfluous travel gets a setback in a globalizing world, but philanthropy, humanitarian aid and empathy now go beyond political, geographical, and racial barriers.
It is in this context that let me observe that the crisis is throwing up new challenges, but more importantly and on a note of cautious optimism also some emerging opportunities, both in near and distant futures.