A Long (Better) View From the Nordics?

Can things get much worse, or are we on the edge of something else? Let’s look at the paths that brought us here…

Putin came to power and the West trusted him because he looked like a calm and intelligent leader. Merkel, Germany’s leader and others painted a positive picture of this man, who turned out to be an evil criminal who ended up grabbing absolute power in Russia by crushing all opposition. He then ordered Russia’s brutal invasion of another sovereign nation and the war crimes committed by Putin’s men are atrocious. 

Then we have seen how fast climate change is upon us. We now see ferocious storms, floods, wild fires and drought. 

Both events have caused food and energy prices to spike and huge numbers of the world’s population are at risk of great suffering.

The French has this very annoying saying “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” or translated  “the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing”…

I never really understood this until I lived and worked in Asia for a French Bank… the meaning is that things change far more slowly than we generally expect – and that has an important meaning for us all. Just look at China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand to see how slowly their populations’ cultures change…

… and Europe too is full to the eyeballs of slowly changing national cultures, but you seldom see what is in front of your eyes.

There are several lessons to be learned when we accept that change seldom happens quickly:

  1. We must be ready to stand up for what we think is right, and accept that desired changes do not happen quickly. There is little to gain from banging your head against a brick wall, but much to be gained by firmly working towards better solutions and not giving in to disaster.
  2. When things go wrong, fast recovery action is normally not well considered and can lead bad or even worse results. Governments often respond badly to matters that can lead to wars and pandemics. Climate change is a great example as is too much dependence on fossil fuels from despotic and undemocratic countries like Russia or many in the Middle East. Putin is threatening us with nuclear weapons – we should not respond in kind. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is bad politics, and leads to escalation of violence.
  3. Some technologies can also be blindly followed and supported by governments that can have very bad consequences for us all. Digital systems are vulnerable to hacking by evil state-backed hackers or by criminals who can steal a thousand times more money than bank robbers have ever stolen. Private medical records are be hacked and exposed, critical infrastructure can be compromised or destroyed, corporate and government secrets can be stolen causing huge losses and loss of lives.

These are just a few examples of what is happening today with disastrous and unintended consequences.

The life cycle of change is said to be getting shorter, which is probably true now almost all of us are interconnected. We would be more interconnected if the world was smaller and less diverse but we are stuck on the rather large ball of rocks, metals, water and gas with just too much information connecting too many people.

But are we at an edge of something better, or will things get much worse?

Looking back this last ten to twenty years we have seen that the governments and populations of China, the United States and Europe have become very much entwined with one another with technology, food and money. 

These three countries and regions indeed decide our fate because they are so big and economically powerful, but we must unfortunately note that the US and Europe have sanctioned China, China is callous towards the West, and not so long ago Europe and Trump were at loggerheads.

However, China, and Europe invest in US government bonds called “US Treasuries”, while the USA uses the money raised from US Treasuries and taxes to pay for its basic infrastructure and service needs. The three regions trade in food and technology in both directions – electronic chips, soya beans, wheat, rice, sugar, fossil fuels, many other raw materials and manufactured products pass across the continents in massive volumes everyday. They are the lifeblood of our economies.

When fighting escalates, when interest rates rise, when fossil fuel prices become super expensive, when economic sanctions limit the trade of technology, then the populations of these three countries suffer and that means that people get hungry because there is less cash after loan payments, less left after food and fuel prices go up by more than 50% in one year! Inflation and shortages of basic foodstuffs cause uprisings and those are not good things for politicians.

So could it be possible that the smoke screens of angry words and short-sighted actions will be slowly removed from the picture to allow the three to align their interests to save to globe?

There is a stronger possibility that this could happen because their politicians finally understand to align their interests rather than destroying the globe – and since the years are passing so quickly, perhaps there is light at the end of the dark tunnel.


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