Times of Survival Crisis

Bharat Dogra

We all care deeply for our children. So, imagine how high should be the concern of parents who have come to know that their small children, when they grow towards teenage and youth years, are likely to face some very serious life-endangering threats? Surely, they should give up everything else to try to do what they can to eliminate these threats, or reduce them as much as possible.

But the reality today is that millions and millions of parents know that their children will be facing such threats in the next two or three decades (as well as beyond this) and yet the potential of the combined strength of these millions and millions of parents is somehow not being realised to check the serious threats which await these children in the next few decades.

This is extremely sad, and will prove very costly. There needs to be much greater realisation of the enormity of the very serious threats and hazards we face and our children are likely to face more than us. These threats are so serious that these can be called a survival crisis.

To understand the very critical times through which all inhabitants of planet earth are passing, the concept of a survival crisis is of crucial importance. Briefly, this concept refers to a range of serious problems which taken together can badly disrupt the special life-nurturing conditions of earth due to which such a wide diversity of life has flourished here. This disruption can take place within the 21st century, in fact as early as within the next few decades. Several very senior scientists have argued along these lines in several statements in recent times.

The serious problems which constitute the survival crisis include nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction including robot or AI weapons, climate change, ocean acidification, freshwater crisis, air pollution, disruption of food safety and around half a dozen other serious environmental and safety problems. Most discussion on these dozen or so survival problems takes place in isolation from each other but in the practical world we are more likely to face the combined threat of several of them taken together, increasing the risks.

From the point of view of the welfare of all living beings on earth this survival crisis constituted by all these problems taken together is clearly the most important issue. This is true for this generation but this is even more true regarding the welfare of future generations, our children and grandchildren as well as the next generations of other life-forms.

The present world leadership and international institutions have miserably failed to find timely and credible solutions for this survival crisis taken as a whole. There are several statements by leading scientists, experts and statesmen testifying to this. In fact, some of the problems which constitute the survival crisis have worsened rapidly in the recent past.      

Where then can we find hope? In three recent books on these issues titled Survival Crisis--Planet in Peril; People’s Response the Only Way Forward (Vitasta Publishers, Delhi), Protecting Earth for Children and One Decade to Protect Life (Published by our own cottage scale publishing effort called Social Change Papers, Delhi) I have argued that the greatest importance must now be accorded at world level to finding solutions for the survival crisis within the framework of justice, democracy and peace. While very significant reforms in governance at world level are needed to find and implement solutions which work, these can come only if there is a great resurgence of people’s movements at the grassroots and a yearning for social values in tune with the big challenges ahead. More specifically I have suggested the coming together of the movements of justice (including gender justice), peace, environment protection, democracy and sincere spirituality to make it possible for people to respond adequately to the challenges ahead. It is tough, it is possible.

One particular idea which I advocate very strongly in these books and on which I have been campaigning in recent times is to declare the decade of 2020-30 as the Decade of Saving Earth at the world level. This is the most immediate demand at present (at the time of writing) of the ‘Save the Earth Campaign’ which I am co-ordinating. This will help to focus attention on the most urgent tasks of resolving the survival crisis issues before it is too late.

The writer of this document is a journalist and author who has been involved closely with several social movements and initiatives. He is Convener of   Save the Earth Now Campaign and its SED Demand. Web-site

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Jun 30, 2020

Bharat Dogra

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