It’s fair to say 2020 has not had the most glorious of beginnings. Donald Trump’s war-mongering seems aptly timed to distract from the impeachment process (military action always seems a way to steer conversations away from domestic woes), and Australia is suffering under the grip of some of the worst bush fires ever known. These are different problems, but they represent two of humanity’s greatest challenges.
Climate change is the biggest danger we face. Our planet is slowly dying – and Australia is the focal point right now, but make no mistake, there are problems all around the world because of climate change. It is human influenced, man-made, of that, there is no doubt – well, unless you’re among the handful of people who believe Facebook over the consensus of nearly every learned expert in this field. To tackle this, there needs to be more than a conversation about plastic straws and coffee cups – yes, we can all absolutely do our part, but governments and major corporations account for where the biggest changes can be made. Factories continue to pump gasses into the air and pollutants into our water, and businesses consume huge resources, as do governments, on a scale beyond anything that the average person can affect.
There are some signs of progress. Car manufacturers are increasingly looking at electric cars, which have come a long way over the past few years. This technology will only continue to improve. Companies are becoming conscious of how being environmentally friendly looks – it doesn’t necessarily matter to a lot of them, but image is everything, so if it helps maintain profits, they’ll give it a go. Cynical? Absolutely, but that’s reality.
Trump’s posturing is dangerous. I’m not aware of anyone who sings the praises of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed on Trump’s orders via a missile strike in Baghdad. Soleimani had blood on his hands, there is no doubt of that. Iran has long interfered with other nations and does not mind if neighbours are destabilised, for Iran senses and exploits opportunity when such scenarios come to pass. However, the manner in which Trump acted has served as a lightening rod, uniting the Iranian people against the US and also enraging the Iraqi people, whose capital city played unwitting host to the attack. I would like to think this is unlikely to spill into outright war – but Trump is neither sane nor stable, and coupled with the discovery of huge oil fields by Iran recently… well, the cynic in me has to wonder what Trump’s true motives are.
It wouldn’t end with Iran of course. Iran has a close relationship with Russia, and Putin would be unlikely to sit back and let Trump have his own way. Let’s hope that sense prevails, and the shaky start to 2020 is one we recover from.