These are unprecedented times, as we face huge global challenges! For One, climate change is leading to temperature rises in the most unlikely of places. “Antarctica logs highest temperature on record of 18.3C”1 (article title). That is an astonishing 69.4o Fahrenheit. We have seen wildfires (brush fires) in many parts of the world: not only Australia and in the US (California) but also in unusual places like Spain. These fires have caused immeasurable damage to humans and animals alike. “More than 1 billion animals have been killed so far, says Christopher Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney.”3 To know that an estimated one billion animals have perished and that some of them may go extinct is incomprehensible.
Secondly, in the last few years, we have witnessed the emergence of more autocrats who are violating human rights throughout the world. It’s good to hear that these autocrats are facing resistance. “Large crowds in Budapest protested Orban’s moves to shut Central European University, an academic bastion of liberal inquiry and thought. Tens of thousands of Poles repeatedly took to the streets to defend their courts from the ruling party’s attempts to undermine their independence. People across the United States and dozens of companies protested Trump’s forcible separation of immigrant children from their parents.”4 I’m hope that we continue to raise our voices in opposition to autocrats. Human Rights Watch notes the following examples of recent human rights violations committed by autocrats:
- “Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi persisted in silencing independent voices and civic groups and locking up thousands for their presumed political views.
- Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged more summary executions, supposedly of drug suspects, but often of people guilty of no more than being poor young men.
- Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban implemented his brand of “illiberal democracy.”
- Poland’s de facto ruler, Jarosław Kaczyński, sought to stack his country’s courts with his preferred judges, undermining the judiciary’s independence.
- Italy’s interior minister and deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, closed ports to refugees and migrants, scuttled efforts to save migrants’ lives at sea, and stoked anti-immigrant sentiment.
- India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to halt the demonizing of Muslims while attacking civic groups that criticized his rights record or environmental policies.
- The Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, tightened his grip on power by holding sham elections from which the opposition party was banned.
- US President Donald Trump disparaged immigrants and minorities and tried to bully judges and journalists whom he deemed to stand in his way.
- Russia under President Vladimir Putin continued its multi-year crackdown on independent voices and political opposition.
- China closed off any possibility of organized opposition to the increasingly one-man rule of Xi Jinping.”4
Third, of course, is the current novel coronavirus pandemic. The entire population of earth is impacted. As of the morning of april 1st, there are “873,767 confirmed cases of the virus and 43,288 deaths.”5 Nations throughout the world are (some more aggressive that others) are implementing isolation and social distancing practices to reduce the spread of the virus so as not to overwhelm their healthcare systems and to minimize the number of deaths.
These are trying times for sure! We need to stay healthy in both body and mind if we hope to get through these challenges. First and foremost, we need to stay calm; stay informed and avoid false information. We can’t let our own personal beliefs stand in the way in overcoming these real crises’ facing us all. Pay attention to the medical profession regarding the coronavirus and to the scientific community regarding the impact the climate crisis is having on earth’s inhabitants. Furthermore, we need to stand up to leaders that don’t have their people’s best interest in mind. Our politicians must stop playing partisan politics, be honest with their constituents, and stop pandering to special interests in order to ensure that current and future generations can thrive and be safe. All businesses must work to advance prosperity and good will for all not just for a few. Big Pharma, here in the United States, must not take advantage of people by looking at this pandemic with $ eyes (see Big Pharma article reference 6). The fossil-fuel industry must stop the harm they are causing for the sake of profits (see fossil fuel article reference 7).
I know that many of us are afraid, but we must all understand that we are in this together. We must drop our partisan behavior and come together. We must resist those who continue to demonstrate divisive behavior by falsely asserting that the events we are facing are hoaxes. We will overcome these existential threats by helping each other and by fighting the urge to consider only one’s self-interest.
Again, let’s stay aware, commit to resisting and overcoming these huge threats and to communicating clearly and honestly with each other. I welcome everyone’s feedback. E-mail me at
- Antarctica logs highest temperature on record of 18.3C by BBC February 7 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-51420681
- European heatwave: Spain battles major Catalonia wildfire by BBC June 19, 2019 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48790242
- Australian fires have incinerated the habitats of up to 100 threatened species. By John Pickrell, ScienceNews January 13, 2020 https://www.sciencenews.org/article/australian-fires-incinerated-habitats-threatened-species-ecological-disaster
- World’s Autocrats Face Rising Resistance by Kenneth Roth, Executive Director Human Rights Watch, World Report 2019 https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/keynote/autocrats-face-rising-resistance
- Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
- Big Pharma prepares to profit from the coronavirus by Sharon Lerner, The Intercept March 13, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2020/03/13/big-pharma-drug-pricing-coronavirus-profits/
- Oil Companies Ponder Climate Change, but Profits Still Rule. New York Times, By Stanley Reed, October 7th, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/business/energy-environment/oil-companies-climate-change-profits.html