Right now the the number one priority is Covid19. The whole world is busy fighting it. It has posed a serious threat to life everywhere barring China and a few small countries here and there. There is an almost unanimous view that this is the worst event in the last 2 centuries. The spread of the pandemic has caused panic.
The best brains in the world have not been able to figure out how it is spreading. Countries are busy imposing, relaxing, lifting and reimposing lockdowns with little clue to what they are doing. The British PM contracted it and it is now the turn of a retired Indian President. President Trump probably escaped narrowly. But every day some VIP or the other attracts media headlines and gets dubious publicity. Who next, is the question! In Bengaluru the CM of Karnataka and his predecessor have tested positive.
The number of COV afflicted patients globally as of this hour exceeds 20.6 million and death score stands at 750000. It is rising by the minute.
The world economy is in shambles even as economic lotus eaters are merrily forecasting the return of good times in the next month or quarter or year depending on their best dreams. There are obvious buyers of these dreams as seen by the buoyancy in the Stock market despite rock bottom performance!
In the midst of all this misery there is a piece of encouraging news. Russia has announced a new vaccine. Instead of being enthused by this news western countries are denouncing it saying that Russia has jumped the gun by not following ‘best international standard practices’ of trials for absolute safety. I am in a small minority of those who feel that this response is like a demand to send samples of available water for chemical tests to three independent labs requiring 2 days to fight a raging fire in your house. Yes, the Russians have confidence in their product and propose to use it only on themselves. They are not pushing it down your blood stream. Why this cynicism then?
The discerning sceptic knows that the current hot multinational competition to develop a vaccine is all about a greedy sprint to hit the jackpot and not about saving lives. Eventually the public will be made to cough up astronomical sums to be vaccinated, directly or through their governments. It will be at least 2 or 3 years before the poor man will be protected if he is still alive. There will be other riders like one shot or multiple ones year after year, driving poor countries to greater misery and dependency on doles. Vaccine will probably wreck economies after the pandemic has had its run. When will China release the next edition of virus is anybody’s guess.
To me Corona looks like an overdue mirror that reflects the reckless practices in health care and inequitable distribution of wealth in every society, giving us the chance to correct ourselves. We are looking into that mirror with eyes shut.
Despite all the above nerve wracking scenarios, Corona is not the worst disaster to hit mankind given the slender hope of vaccines in the making. As everyone knows, the threats of global warming and pollution are more durable menacing. There are arguments about their cause(s) but none about their effect. Glaciers are disappearing or crashing, ground temperatures rising, forest fires are raging uncontrollably. Floods due to record torrential rains, cyclones and tornadoes are submerging vast tracts of land. A third of Bangladesh has gone under water. The latest victim of fire is the lush Amazon forests. In India landslides have become a regular feature due to vanishing forest trees and erosion on the mountain slopes.
Nature’s fury has always visited us every now and then but the way its intensity and frequency is accelerating. The devastating effect is truly unmatched. The long predicted tectonic shift in the Himalayan region is also waiting to happen.
Global warming is truly a phenomenon that no vaccine can combat. It is a slide down a steep slope into a black hole. That will be overtaken by only one other evil, namely pollution. Both Pollution and global warming are slower but surer killers than COVD 19.
The argument goes like this. People need jobs for a living. Job opportunities are shrinking. Hence they need to be expanded by the process called job oriented development. Such development can be only initiated by governments. This will mean infrastructure development, like mining, construction of highways, railways, ports, realty etc. Development means destruction of land, natural resources, existing settlements, forests and nature in the name creating employment. This will add to more to energy consumption, global warming and pollution. Advanced technologies will be introduced to beat pollution and warming, but they will rob the jobs on offer. This is a vicious circle.
To conclude, pollution and global warming are bigger menaces to human beings than CVD 19. Guess the winner!