Leadership & ManagementLifestyle

The world’s greatest peril – WEF makes an astonishing revelation

By Raikishori Ganguly

The pandemic sounded a cacophonous wake-up call for the global population and despite the despair it caused, it also set into perspective what a real worldwide crisis looks like and how it affects the economy, businesses and overall lives of the people inhabiting the planet. Now, in the light of this crisis, people are taking impending crises possibilities more seriously.

However, in spite of the devastation it has caused, an article by World Economic Forum (WEF) stated that Novel Coronavirus is not the greatest risk facing the world right now. WEF highlighted that according to the report titled “Scientists’ Warning on Affluence” published by a team of scientists from UK, Switzerland and Australia, currently, affluence is greatest threat to our world.

In the context of the impending climate change crisis, the environmental research report warned that only upping the efficient use of resources will not be enough to bring substantial changes, rather true sustainability can only be achieved by bringing significant lifestyle changes.

Overconsumption has been underlined by many international leaders as a major contributor to existential environmental problems, such as pollution, loss of biodiversity and climate change. Professor Tommy Wiedmann, the lead author of the report, opined that technology alone can’t solve these problems and to drive real transformation, people must change their affluent lifestyles and curtail overconsumption, and complement it with structural alterations.

The recent developments have compelled the international community to accept that currently our planet has reached an ecological tipping point. In the aftermath of the pandemic as the world is rebuilt, it must have nature at the core of all important decisions.

About 50% of the global GDP is bound by the natural world, states UN. Moreover, millions of livelihoods are dependent on nature and billions of people are closely connected to nature and fully reliant on nature for remedies and medicines.

Need for systemic changes

In WEF’s Global Risk Report 2020 highlights that the primary problem that the advancements achieved by resources efficiency and tech-enabled environmental protection solutions are both outrun by the rise of consumption. The report also points out that human-made ecological harms is one of the greatest and most impactful threats that the world is facing currently.

The present situation warrants a restructuring of the traditional framework of supply and demand in capitalist societies where consumer need propels the economy. A study shows there is a correlation between flourishing economy and deteriorating environment. It shows that from 1970 to 2020, with the rise of global production and global GDP, global emissions have also increased in tandem. Thus, some economists perceive growth itself as a key challenge of the 21st century global capitalism.

Image source: weforum

Capitalism needs a great reset

Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum, called for a “great reset of capitalism” in the light of the pandemic. In his view, the world needs a stakeholder economy, where solitary profit of the enterprise is replaced by fairer outcomes for all, driven by changes in tax structures, fiscal and regulatory policies, and completely new trade arrangements.

In addition, Schwab urges for investments that enable shared goals like equality and sustainability. In many parts of the world such actions are already taking place with the aid of economic stimulus programs. He also encourages more public-private collaboration for the benefit of all.

While such statements have been made earlier, conditions of the world had never been so dire, and the people widely accept that. The reset is real, and the national and private leaders are indeed working towards a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable world. If these efforts continue over the years and the global population stays true to these objectives, we will definitely see some positive changes.

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9 Comments

  1. The ecological crisis, we face today, is a natural corollary to the accumulative entrepreneurial motivation of man, arrogating to himself a place of dominance to exploit nature for his pleasure. Modern technology only comes handy in expediting and facilitating such a process, amply supported by new cultural values. The modernization syndrome, characterized by exuberant life style and wasteful consumption for self-fulfilment and happiness, threatens the ecological balance.

    Nature is to be understood in its totality as an organic whole in which man is but one component, and cannot violate forever, its laws with impunity. The United Nations conference on environment and development at Rio in 1992, exhorted the world to abandon those practices that are self-destructive in favour of sustainable development.

    The idea of the Earth as an integrated whole, a living being, has a long tradition. The mythical Gaia was the primal Greek goddess personifying the Earth, the Greek version of “Mother Nature” or the Earth Mother. According to Gaia hypothesis earth is a living organism and faces no threat from the ‘earthlings’ : if we continue to mess up the environment, it will eventually reorganise itself and continue its cosmic journey by eliminating us.The Corona pandemic is a grim reminder that to take liberty with nature and violate its rules to upset the cosmic balance is to invite its wreath as retributive justice. We must understand that the crisis poses no threat to the planet Earth but only imperils our lives.

  2. Not a new insight….Any knowledgeable person even slightly aware knows the perils of overconsumption on limited earth resources, and has known so for millennia.
    But has any privileged person ( read affluent) ever reduced his lifestyle choices …There’s always a race to higher levels of consumption by the haves and the have nots. And the highest consumers end up being the leaders of the world, they feel entitled. This feeling of entitlement has to be attended to by social scientists and thought leaders.

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  4. Since long rich have been becoming richer. Some sections of the poor may have become slightly richer getting close to middle class. And then scientific innovations and “development” leading to mass production increased consumption rates all over the world. Tremendous increase in the industries of every kind, conceivable, have put an insurmountable stress on the environment and natural resources. It has become fashionable now to count who is the richest and how many rich are in the world. Rich are undoubtedly exploiting the poor and middle class people. How do we explain the increased riches of the so called industry giants in these corona years when most parts of the world were under lockdown? Like every thing else, development too needs controlling mechanisms. Rich must be made responsible to shift their interests to set equality and even distribution among all and they should become the guardians of the environment.

  5. It is hard to understand how capitalism, which is based on the stolen labour of the workers and which sees profit as the foremost goal, can act against its own means of sustenance. Can the capitalists stop stealing the surplus labour of the workers in their own country? Then they will no longer remain capitalists. Can a capitalist firm produce things that are essential for the benefit of the people but are not profitable for them? Only a socialist world, based on cooperation instead of competition can save the human species. Otherwise, the humans have gathered sufficient power to destroy themselves.

  6. It may be greatly true.Environment must be respected. We can not milk natural resources indefinitely.A wake up call is essential.Limit the population.Do not over exploit the natural resources.Look at what we are doing and leaving for the future generations

    1. Sorry. WEF’s diagnosis is a soft diagnosis. Moral lectures won’t do. Overconsumption by some people cannot be the greatest threat to the world. A real great threat is bio-warfare preparations, as identified by Bill Gates. A rogue country can create a world wide pandemic much more deadly than Covid 19. But I would say that the worst threat will be from cyber attacks. What if all the data stored in all computers in the USA are made to vanish suddenly? People may not die at once but that can be the worst chaos that can happen to a country. If the data from computers all over the world are made to disappear, life will revert to Middle Ages. Nothing like paper documentation!!! Worst threat to humanity if not to human lives per se.

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