Expect A Surge In Environmental Disasters Throughout This Decade – OpEd


With the world well into a decade marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), governments worldwide seem to be either clueless or impotent over the portents ahead. Policy rationality is becoming a vestige of the past as bureaucrats just cannot get their heads out of the sand. The VUCA decade, which I am wont of describing this epoch, arguably began with the coronavirus lockdowns in 2020 and will likely conclude with the 2030 Great Reset promised by the World Economic Forum (WEF). 

Nothing represents the current state of policy insanity better than the sight of Tencent employees running helter-skelter from their Shenzhen workplace because one (1) person allegedly tested positive for Covid-19. Similar scenes are being replicated all across China due to Beijing’s intractable Zero-Covid policy. China is currently facing existential threats which far transcend the odd PCR positive test. It is suffering from the worst heatwave on record, crippling water and electricity shortages, and massive industrial shutdowns. Yet, in this sweltering cauldron, local authorities in Ruzhou, Henan province, could afford to pump out 300,000 cubic meters of water over an entire month in order to catch one (1) alligator gar that supposedly posed a threat to other species. And that fish has yet to be caught! 

Maybe this climate change thing is playing tricks on the collective mind. And why not? Those leading the crusade against climate change are themselves the worst polluters on the planet.  According to a 2020 Oxfam report, the richest 10% of the global population produce half of the Earth’s fossil-fuel emissions, while the poorest half contribute a mere 10%. As wealth fractionation increases worldwide, climate change initiatives are increasingly being funded and mangled by a tiny and influential emissions-heavy cohort. Everything is being turned on its head. 

Take the ongoing standoff between Dutch farmers and their government as an example. In 2017, the National Geographic had praised the Netherlands for becoming “an agricultural giant” by demonstrating “what the future of farming could look like”. Policies adopted two decades ago to produce “twice as much food using half as many resources” had, in some cases, resulted in a 90 percent reduction in water usage for key crops. Dutch farmers had also “almost completely eliminated the use of chemical pesticides” in greenhouses while poultry and livestock producers managed to “cut their use of antibiotics by as much as 60 percent”. Netherlands eventually emerged as the world’s second largest exporter of food, second only to the United States, which has “270 times its landmass”. 

Yet, Dutch farmers are now being penalized for the eco-friendly farming practices they had revolutionized – right at a time when the world is facing runaway food inflation and outright famine!

There are other ecological dangers looming on the horizon. Due to the knee-jerk response to Covid-19, an estimated 1.6 billion face masks had ended up in our oceans in 2020 alone. The figures for 2021 and 2022 are expected to be exponentially higher. It will take nearly 450 years for these masks to biodegrade completely. Somehow the geniuses who locked down our planet for the sake of our health had omitted to enforce biohazard protocols that were established decades ago. 

This is what happens when a tiny elite continues to shift the environmental burden to the rest of the global population even as they jet-set from one climate change powwow to another.  I offer two prime examples to buttress my assertion. 

The first concerns the case of the Citarum River in Java, Indonesia. Years of indiscriminate waste-dumping by dye factories along the river have led to an environmental and medical catastrophe. Many of the 14 million Indonesians straddling the “world’s most polluted river” are suffering from dermatitis, intestinal problems, developmental disorders, renal failure, chronic bronchitis and cancer. The prime culprit in this saga was revealed to be Swedish clothing giant H&M which needed cheap dyes for their pricey labels. And we all know how passionate the Swedes are about the environment. 

But things can get a little more sinister when indiscriminate dumping involves radioactive material. Throughout 1980s, the Calabria-based ‘Ndrangheta mafia – in collusion with governments in Europe and North America – found it cheap and convenient to dump radioactive wastes along the coast of Somalia. Reeling from pollution and revenue loss, Somali fisherman eventually resorted to mass piracy and terrorism to make a living. Indiscriminate waste dumping therefore can unexpectedly morph into a Black Hawk Down incident. This is the price of greed. 

But does anyone really care in an era where mass confusion and panic meet at a fetid global confluence reeking of corporate hypocrisy, pervasive coronapsychosis and insensate virtue-signaling? 

Mathew Maavak

Dr. Mathew Maavak's research interests include systems science, global risks, geopolitics, foresight and governance. Follow him on Twitter @MathewMaavak or read his latest articles at https://drmathewmaavak.substack.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *