Important Aspects of Survival Crisis

Bharat Dogra

Perhaps the most important aspect of the global scene in early 21st century is that a very real survival crisis has emerged. Although scientists have been very clearly warning about this repeatedly in recent times, the world political leadership has not yet started acting in accordance with these warnings. For the people, organizations and forces which have been struggling for justice and equality and true democracy, it is very important to understand how this crisis can be resolved within the framework of justice, peace and democracy.

Very favorable life-nurturing conditions have existed on earth due to which millions of species have existed for so long. However, these life-nurturing condition cannot be taken for granted forever. If certain planetary boundaries are crossed, then these life-nurturing conditions can be seriously disrupted. In recent decades we have seen increasing signs of these life-nurturing conditions being seriously disrupted by human-made changes.

 There are two crucial aspects of these changes which taken together constitute a survival crisis.

The first aspect relates to several big environmental changes led by but certainly not confined to climate change. Scientists are speaking of exceptionally fast pace of climate change, extinction of species, air pollution, water crisis, acidification of oceans, accumulation of highly hazardous chemicals and much increased exposure to hazardous products, accentuation of nitrogen cycle and altogether about ten critical ways in which planetary boundaries may be threatened. Some of these changes come with tipping points and beyond a point may fast spiral out of human control.    The second aspect relates to weapons of mass destruction led by not confined to nuclear weapons. Today nuclear weapons number about 14500 and the use of about 1 per cent of these is enough to destroy almost all life. Their destruction is discussed generally in terms of fire, explosion and radiation but in addition the use of just 1 per cent of these will send up millions of tons of soot which can block sunrays for a long time, heralding a nuclear winter in which food crops will not grow over a long period. At the peak nuclear weapons numbered 60000 and it is not clear what exactly happened to these. Apart from nuclear weapons there is the growing and very frightening threat of robot weapons. Chemical and biological weapons may be banned but at various level their threat remains. Weather weapons can also take sinister forms. Conventional weapons have also been scaled up to such an extent that in actual use some of these also become weapons of mass destruction.

 The concept of survival crisis (as this writer has taken up in several recent books) has these two critical dimensions and the presence of both of these dimensions is particularly huge in South Asia. Delhi as perhaps the most important city of this region is affected in a big way.

These issues require the most immediate attention on the basis of the greatest urgency. Several environmental issues come with tipping points. Some of the planetary boundaries are already transgressed. The danger from nuclear weapons and robot weapons (AI weapons) is fast increasing due to a host of reasons.

However, the extremely sad and unfortunate reality is that the present world leadership and systems have badly failed to resolve the most crucial aspects of the survival crisis and effective steps which can give realistic hope have not been taken. This can be seen in terms of the data on greenhouse gas emissions and the breakdown or near breakdown of some of the existing treaties on curbing or controlling the nuclear weapons race.

In this context it is important to emphasize the importance of coming together and strengthening of people’s movements for protecting environment and for bringing broad-based peace; particularly movements of young people and women have a special role. Resolving survival crisis within a framework of justice and equality, democracy and peace should get the highest attention. This should provide the wider perspective for various other social movements as well. Social movements need a wider vision as without avoiding arms race and wars it is not possible to check climate change. Hence aims of peace and environment protection are closely integrated and both need a framework of justice and democracy.

In this context a Save the Earth Now Campaign with its SED Demand has been initiated which apart from asking for resolving the wider survival issues has raised the specific immediate demand that keeping in view the urgency of the survival crisis the Decade 2020-30 should be declared Save the Earth Decade (SED Demand) all over the world. Several eminent persons, organizations and movements have endorsed this demand and this demand with their endorsement has been sent to the United Nations Secretary General. More endorsements will further strengthen this campaign.

As the initiator and coordinator of this campaign this writer has written five books on this subject which provide the base for this campaign and the non-funded campaign is supported by the sales of these and related books.

These books ask for basic and far reaching changes in prevailing governance systems and value systems as an essential condition for resolving the survival crisis within a framework of justice and democracy. The concept of a world government to deal with some aspects of survival crisis is integrated with the concept of deeper rural and urban decentralization so that people are involved closely and meaningfully in the big changes. More details of this campaign can be seen at web site

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Jan 3, 2020

Dr B jhunjhunwala

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