Our world and its societal structure are facing five simultaneous crises. The ongoing and joined-together presence of these crises resembles a perfect storm or the alignment of the planets when everything seems to arrive at the same time. Thus, all five together takes on greater importance and makes significant impact.
It’s not a crisis, it’s a changing of the world,
Michel Serres, 2012).
The economic crisis
- At present, power is shifting from industrial capital to financial power. Commercial consortia cease to be national in order to become international.
- Barely 5% of the world’s population (22 million people) now own 36% of the world’s wealth.
- Speculation and indebtedness are substituted for productivity and growth, which prevents the middle classes from making progress.
- The emergence of China and India, therefore of the BRIC, as economic powers requires a realignment of forces. Western supremacy dissolves with the weakening of the G8, while the new G20 is still seeking its legitimacy.
The diagram below shows why the G7 or G20 has recently become the G20 : the addition of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) where economies are rising, it also reveals the rise of Internet of services :
- The financial crisis of 2008 was not created by the market system, but from the greed of the big banks and their careless use of financial algorithms.
- The diktats of the American rating agencies that evaluate all the companies of the planet according to the American model only.
- The thrust of an economic model based on security and surveillance, developed by the US military-industrial empire during the Iraq war.
The ecological crisis
- Because of the widespread (and untimely) clearing of forests, water pollution, destruction of soils, oil spills, radioactive waste and GMOs, the shock between the biosphere and human activities becomes irreversible : coral reefs and Arctic systems are already undergoing irreversible changes.
- In May 2013, the rate of greenhouse gas emissions reached an all-time high of 3.2 million years. The objective of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius is now beyond our reach (IPCC Report, 2013). (Copenhagen Meeting, Kyoto Protocol and the Earth Summit),
- Global warming will jeopardize essential food crops (rice, wheat and maize), change the price of food and change the quantity of wine and fisheries production (IPCC Report 2014).
- Acidification of rivers and lakes already forces biodiversity to change ; The food chain is experiencing significant impacts (cod, for example).
- We could reach 200 million climate refugees if no significant measures to slow down global warming are implemented by 2020 (see last report of the International Energy Agency, 2013).
- The ecological wall will stand against any possible economic recovery.
- The Earth, which has already experienced five major periods of ecological upheaval (which have engendered mass extinction processes) is now facing the potential sixth extinction in its history.
To such an extent that many think that we are entering a new era : the Age of Man or the Anthropocene Age.
The energy crisis
- Half of mankind is threatened by lack of water by 2025 (World Bank Report, 2013). We could be subjected to wars focused on controlling this natural resource.
- The costs of extraction and transport of energy and raw materials from the countries of the South are becoming too high, to the point of preventing their economic recovery.
- Most resources are plundered by some major industrialized countries. After 2020, the planet’s resources will no longer be sufficient for the needs of its inhabitants.
The geopolitical crisis
- Citizenship and the absence of a social plan make state governance more and more difficult.
- Decision flows formerly oriented North-South are now oriented on an East-West axis, notably because of the emergence of China.
Here is how a Chinese person sees the world :
And here’s how an American see the world :
The Economist, June 29, 2002
- The international order is unbalanced.
- The absence of supranational political structures (such as globalization at the economic level) prevents breakdowns. A political globalization could be organized by bringing together the G20, the UN Security Council, the WTO and the World Bank, for example
The generational crisis
- Demography faces three challenges : the aging of the population in industrialized countries, the South-North migration of people seeking employment and accelerated urbanization.
- Inequalities 15% -85% (and not the 1% – 99%) affect societal equilibrium. We are witnessing the rise of several new sources of social anger.
- The anger of young people rises as they assess the legacy left to them by their elders. There are no longer intergenerational transfers, therefore no transfer of common values.
- The rise of « ME » prevents finding solutions that should be collective.
The emergent mega-trends :
Aaron David Miller has clearly identified the five Ds that are currently weakening American society: Deficit, Debt, Political Dysfunction, Dependence on Hydrocarbons and Deterioration of the System of education.
Men accept change only in necessity and they see necessity only in crisis.