Like every negative prophecy, these words are meant as warning to prevent, rather than predict a doomsday scenario.
A new book, “Upheaval,” issues a warning about the four largest-looming acute challenges to human survival: nuclear war, climate change, global resource depletion, and rising global inequality. And we do need our governments to take each of the four seriously to prevent human annihilation. But we also need to prevent a fifth disaster.
Presently, we can hardly imagine this fifth catastrophe which hinders us preventing it. I’m talking about refugees fleeing from Europe, the USA, Japan, and India, all the large centers of democracy. The following is about how that could happen in the blink of an eye.
First, China and Russia would wait a couple of more decades until the West and democratic Asia, the riches countries, most of them enriched by colonialism, will have automated away most of their jobs. Computers and robots will largely have taken over production, service, and sales. Buying, selling, saving, learning, teaching, news, entertainment, voting, meeting, talking, and public safety will all go through the Internet.
And then Russia will pull the plug. Through well-placed electronic sabotage world-wide, the grid will come to a screeching halt. Black-out.
The stock market won’t open and the US dollar will have lost all its value. Traffic lights and GPS won’t work anymore. Living in hot and cold places becomes impossible. Inhabitants will flee high risers. The UN will convene and limit the use of bio-fuel, so, having a generator will hardly help. The few that have sun collectors and windmills may still privately have electricity for their fridge and PC. Crops will not be transported to the cities and food factories will have stopped. US citizens will die by the millions when many of them will take up arms and start killing each other as a modern “survival” of the fittest. In the rest of the industrial world, it won’t be much better. Living in poorer countries, will have become the safest.
China and Russia will divide up the world into two regions, for each roughly half the globe. That’s better than fighting each other. The two dictatorships will dominate the world. Small enclaves, like Israel, will still have electricity and democracy but for the large rich countries, the story’s over.
Forget about any more Free Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Meeting, Free Elections, Equality before the Law.
No more Internet resource. Stores and factories that were replaced by robots don’t exist any longer. No TV news or entertainment, no email, no phone, no car, train or plane (no fuel), no work, no salary, no savings, no schools, no elections, no ebooks, no Facebook, Skype, Instagram, Twitter, and no policing or military activity.
In the poorest countries life will be best. Small-scale communities, low-tech environments. Those who have a ball or doll, can still play. Those who kept their books, can still read. Those who know how to shake hands, still can talk. Farmers will still saw and reap. Bricklayers will still be able to build. The poorer will get majority power in the UN.
It’s no problem that the small and powerless finally get power and esteem. Call it reparations. The real trouble is the evaporation of democracy, equality before the law, minority rights, Free Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Meeting, and Free Elections.
If we don’t safeguard the grid now, that will all happen, from one day to the next. Not now. In a few decades. And that could last centuries.
It’s good to be optimistic but not to the extent of not preventing danger.