From devastating Corona Virus pandemic to climate change

194

MUHAMMAD USMAN

IN human history, it is first time that a pandemic has gripped the entire planet in its jaws. It has enveloped the world as of a locust sweep from one distant corner to another devastatingly at lightning speed. Its epicentre continues to shift in quick succession. At the start, it was China in Dec 2019. Now it is from Europe to USA which awaited a rude awakening. Probably they had a misconception of invulnerability to such calamities, being super advanced scientifically and technologically and unassailable economic giant.Theythoughtthatthese only happen in poor and alien lands. The US was never shy of making spectacular claims of its prowess and reach. The arrogance was ever conspicuous in its broadcast. They bragged that they have an economy which would take only a genius to wreck it. They rule the skies on strength of their technology which no other one could match. They have military machine which no other civilization has ever seen however, much to their bewilderment, it could not shoot a tiniest virus. Their technology stands time bound before it could respond to challenge of taming the deadly virus. Their economy is in tailspin. Seeing the death spree mounting astronomically, President Trump who earlier daggled the possibility of reopening US economy by Easter, succumbed to a harsher reality check. He has now conceded that death toll could climb up to 200,000 while extending lockdown in the country till 30April which was otherwise to end by midmonth. This change of mind has just taken few days and clearly hints at nervous breakdown within US Administration. Their healthcare and social security systems are in danger of being handicapped to cope with adversity. They urgently require transfusion of massive amount of money and generosity of spirit to stand up to test of big upheaval. The US may pump in money but other make and break ingredient is hard to come by in an overgrown materialism which largely makes up US society. The recession in US economy is a foregone conclusion. The projections and indices are unable to determine its degree and range when trajectory of calamity is unknowable and outcome of containment efforts is uncertain. In short, situation is fluid and is generating unfamiliar and unsettling consequences. When plight of biggest economy of the world is placed so precariously, it is neigh impossible to determine impact of calamitous tragedy on other economies of the world particularly, on impoverished economies. In its March report, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, downgraded its 2020 growth forecasts for almost all economies.Within a few days, on 23March, it had to change and warned that shock from the virus is already bigger than a financial crisis. Its General Secretary said that many countries would fall into recession and they would be dealing with economic fallouts for years to come. Possibly there is a dire need of economic rescue package of worth $5 Trillion to reenergize economies worldwide as being contemplated at G 20 group. Besides this economic perilous side, epidemic is inflicting severe damage socially and morally. The world is witnessing a defining global health crisis of stunning proportions. There is closure of educational institutions and playgrounds, shutting down of manufacturing/production units, stoppage of transports, banning of airtravels and unprecedented shutter down of citiestothe extent of stringentlockdowns. These would entail critical consequence of their own and could push a sizeable population of world to starvation. Due to disruption in supply chain, there are wide spread instances of panic buying as there is no tomorrow. In times of ordeal, one needs more care and affection.Apatient would like to keep his loved ones around but because of inevitability of social distancing, he is isolated. It has multiple negative implications. Combined with this, thought of unceremonious burial/funeral is even more frightening and would tax excessively moral and social culture of a large number of countries. Underlying purpose of above discourse is to highlight man’s helplessness against instant calamity, caused by his act against the nature despite his reach to stars. The Corona Virus is by-product of eating unnatural food which caught the man unaware about its danger. Obviously neither there was a curative treatment or vaccine to prevent it. The globalization far multiplied its spread. It was a small flirt with the nature but its incurring cost is prohibitive and inescapable. It reminds one about a much greater foul which man is committing against the nature. It is the climate change which amounts to boring holes in atmosphere. We have already stepped in a period of its forbidding consequences and enduring them foolishly in shape of less reliable/predictable seasons, ocean acidification, habitat loss, increased diseases, food shortage, deforestation and extreme weather.Air pollution is killing annually about seven million people globally however, as a whole humans remain non serious towards this looming threat, becoming larger and larger with each passing day. Only reason is that it is not direct and immediate so far but ultimately, its pall would descend if humans continue to show indifference, neglect and apathy and there is no other planet to migrate and live. Apart from this, continued fiddling with space could produce an unknown calamity as of Corona Virus. Would man like again to remain on mercy of circumstances? The prudence suggests adherence, not the transgression of laws of nature. — The writer, a retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad. Email: usman5064@gmail.com