WE KNEW BUT DID NOTHING
Many people predicted what we are witnessing today: deadly conflicts, mass migration, and starvation, all due to injustice. We were warned so we knew: humans are not so dumb. Then how come the world did nothing and let the predictions come true. They were preventable. The reason: there was no strong enough political will. Politicians saw lack of interest among their constituencies. We see only short term gain and are willfully blind to reality. Many who cried out and warned about an impending crisis were called bleeding-heart crying wolf and were laughed at.
In 1968, there was a huge UN conference about development in Uppsala, Sweden. I remember it well because it was my first year in Africa and extreme poverty was in front of me. The world came together to discuss development to eliminate inequality and poverty. It warned of dire consequences if the issue was not addressed. There would be conflicts and unrest because of inequality and injustice. Due to advanced technology of mass media e.g. televsion, poor people could see how other world lived and their misery was not normal. They wanted the same thing. It was predicted, consequently there would be uncontrollable and unstoppable mass migration like breached Hoover Dam.
In 1974, there was another big UN conference about imminent food crisis. It was held in Rome, Italy. But one thing I remember very well is Henry Kissinger’s bold promise. He was Secretary of States of the U.S.A. He said: “In ten years, there will be no child going to bed hungry.” Ironically, exactly ten years later, 1984, I was on the way to Geneva, Switzerland, to be a member of the team to coordinate the food aid to Africa. In the 1980’s, in Ethiopia alone about one million people died of starvation.
So here we are in 2016, there are conflicts in the Middle East, drought and starvation in Africa (again), and unstoppable mass migration in Europe.
We have been hearing about the climate change for more than two decades. Record breaking hot summers, melting ice in the Arctic, bigger and bigger forest fires in California and Canadian Prairies. Still there are enough number of people who deny that there is a crisis. They say it comes around every now and then. Don’t worry about the planet earth. It will survive; without us.
“When will we ever learn.” – Bob Dylan