Global challenges of the 21 century

In the past 20 years the world has seen dramatic changes in geopolitical, geo-economic and geo-cultural landscape. Historically, evolution has been in nature‘s hands. Now, it is in human hands. We are witnessing collapse of powers on one side and rising other powers on the other side. Today we have moved from the notion of global confrontation to the notion of dialogs and conflicts of various cultures and civilizations. 

The picture that presents our global condition is so mixed. No one can deny that we live in an age of changes with continuously growing scale and speed. Everything changes and our understanding of it changes as well. We cannot manage to grasp the entire depth and essence of such changes in due to time. Such an extraordinarily mixed picture frequently defies our human comprehension and makes us hold back and surrender positions in the competitive battle.

What are the challenges facing humanity at the beginning of the 21 century? The continuing rapid growth in population, environmental destruction are jus t some of the global problems facing civilization. About one-sixth of the population of the world is enjoying high standards of living, while one-half of the human inhabitants of the globe are still battling poverty. The same discrepancies exist in the realm of justice, democracy, human rights, and war and peace.

In the past 20 years the world has seen dramatic changes in geopolitical, geo-economic and geo-cultural landscape. Historically, evolution has been in nature‘s hands. Now, it is in human hands. We are witnessing collapse of powers on one side and rising other powers on the other side. Today we have moved from the notion of global confrontation to the notion of dialogs and conflicts of various cultures and civilizations.

Various problems facing civilization today are:

-Threats to the environmentThe global environment is being destroyed by excessive consumption in industrialized countries, combined with rapid population growth in developing nations. Climate change threatens to melt glaciers and polar ice. The planet's climate will change and we have to learn to live with changes.

Reversing Poverty – While rich nations become richer, billions of people live inextreme poverty with short, brutal lives. In his book "Civilization‘s Crisis in the 21 century ," John Scales Avery points out economic inequality that today 2.7 billion people live on less than $2 a day1.1 billion on less than $1 per day. 18 million of our fellow humans die each year from poverty.

The gap between rich and poor countries gets no narrowing. The number of poor countries increases. The problem of social disconnection in societies deepens. Reforms are not supported by population;

  • Growing population – Extreme poverty can be tied to population problems. There are now non-oppressive ways to lower the birthrate. Population declines in countries where women can read and full women's liberation is in effect. Population also declines when GDP rises. Improving lifestyles equates with controlling population
  • Vanishing resources We are spending our capital, i.e., we are spending the earth's riches of coal, oil and raw materials, as well as our inheritance of clean air, clean water, and places where one can be free from noise pollution. It is clear that economic growth, as we experience it today, means that we are spending more and more of humankind's natural wealth. This cannot continue indefinitely."
  • The global food crisis –A danger that the 21st century will bring very large scale famines to vulnerable parts of the world, because modern energy-intensive agriculture will be dealt a severe blow by prohibitively high petroleum prices, and because climate change will reduce the world's agricultural output. We are losing species of plants and animals. Many endangered species can be protected by identifying and preserving "hot spots". Today, 90 percent of the edible fish in the oceans have been caught (Climate change may also contribute to a global crisis).
  • The threat of nuclear war – Despite the end of the Cold War, the threat of a nuclear catastrophe remains severe. Nuclear and biological weapons are a threat. This century contains more threats from more weapons of mass destruction than ever
  • Failure of the mediaWar and conflict are blatantly advertised by television and newspapers.

Such outright advertisements for the institution of war seem to have the wholehearted support of the networks. Meanwhile the peace movement has almost no access to the mainstream media.

  • Ineffective mechanisms of governanceNaturally, the common people don't want war. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country that determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship….
  • Dealing inffectively with Globalism – The planet is "shrinking" and bandwidth is increasing, but globalism should be designed to allow local cultures to thrive and be protected. The right balance between global and local should be achieved. Failing nations must be helped to become developing
  • Terrorism – The age of terrorism is rising with the availability of weapons of mass destruction that are becoming increasingly less expensive and easier to access. It is vital to address the reasons why people want to become terrorists and to achieve cooperation among potentially hostile

-Rapid spread of diseases – We must thwart the rapid spread of infectious diseases that could kill many millions of people, as has happened already many times in history. We now have sensors that can detect the existence of a dangerous virus in the air and we are creating medical procedures to prevent illnesses from spreading. Bird flu and other pandemics require preparation, and we must do more to be ready for them.

This is the first century in which we will be able to radically change human beings, and this fact alone gives it special meaning. Technology will enable us to live longer, learn more, and gain the ability to connect to nanotechnology objects in or on our skulls and to supercomputers or to connect our brains to other external devices. Transhumanism will be highly controversial. It will raise major ethical arguments. We might lose some of the qualities we now see as making us "human." There will also be extreme differences between those who have the technology and those who don't. We need to make changes without suffering overall-negative consequences. Transhumanism can lead us to build a civilization far more advanced than today's. We need to be asking ourselves now, "What kind of civilization would we build if we could do anything?"

During the 21st century, the world will be facing a number of extremely pressing problems. Instead of debating which of them is the most serious, we should recognize that the problems are interconnected and that we must solve them simultaneously.

 

References 

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Year: 2013
City: Almaty
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