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How Risky Is Our Globe?

In the Global Risks Perception Survey 73 % did not have confidence in collective security alliances, including the UN

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The Global Risks Report published recently captures some of  the most contentious issues that face our planet earth  and India is not free from any of them. As the world marches ahead, it’s time to gauge the concerns on the minds of global decision-makers – both in the realm of business and politics.

Visual Capitalist identifies seven risks that threaten the seven billion odd people on earth, of whom some are higher on the scale of  impact than others. But there is no denying that these seven risks are paramount in today’s world. What are they?

In terms of impact, Weapons of  Mass Destruction (WMD) remain the most potent risk. While Saddam Hussain is no more and South Korea is slowly getting tamed, WMD continues to be the number one headache the world over. For military and intelligence agencies worldwide, tracking WMD is a major occupation, for it can annihilate a great part of the planet. Rogue states like Pakistan and difficult areas like Afghanistan, Palestine and Israel are forever threats to world peace. In the light of  the huge nuclear arsenal built by several nations, averting a Third World War is the biggest issue Heads of States contend with today. In the Global Risks Perception Survey 73 per cent did not have confidence in “collective security alliances”, including the UN. As many as 85 per cent felt that frictions between the major world powers can spell disaster for humanity. Clearly war is the biggest threat or risk, facing humankind.  

Visual Capitalist identifies extreme weather conditions as the most likely risk. Its effect is seen in different parts of the world every year. This year the Chicago area froze as much as Siberia. A small part of Punjab experienced snowfall for the first time in history. Maldives is perpetually under threat of going under. Bangladesh is perennially ready to be inundated in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta. Unbearable heat waves are threatening several tropical areas of the world. Extreme weather conditions are occurring more frequently. Undoubtedly, weather comes into the calculations of all trajectories of growth, be it of a country or a business.  

Inextricably linked to the above, is the failure of climate change mitigation and   adaptation measures. In the Global Risks Perception Survey 64 per cent were convinced of erosion of global decision making on climate change. If it deteriorates, the second and the third risks listed above may combine to become the most potent global risk.

The United Nations Framework on Climate Change needs to sensitise all countries to the impact of climate change and the pivotal role of adoption of adaptation and mitigation measures play in all countries, especially the most vulnerable ones. The United States has diluted many issues in this context in the recent past. As a world leader, it needs to be reminded of  the pressing climate change issues by the world community. Gandhiji’s precept about the world having enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed, now rings in the ears of  global leaders.

Water crises, the environment, data frauds and thefts and cyber attacks also contribute to global risk perception. The foremost victim of these seven risks is human happiness.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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J.K. Dadoo

The author is a retired IAS officer

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