Staunton, April 27 – “When things return to normal” has become a mantra for those suffering from the coronavirus, an expression of hope that after this pandemic passes, people around the world will be able to return at least in large measure to the way things were before it appeared.
Yes, most but far from all people around the world acknowledge that things will be different, that there will be more concern about ensuring that countries are ready for the next outbreak of such a disease and even that people will have to change the way they live in order to protect themselves.
But there is a problem with that vision that many are only beginning to face, Aleksey Kalmykov of the BBC’s Russian Service says. None of the problems the world was confronted by before the pandemic has gone away, and many of them threaten to return with even greater force after it (bbc.com/russian/features-52437166).
The peoples of the world, Russians among them, face a world certain to be filled by more forest fires, more floods, more droughts and crop failures, and even “a Biblical plague of locusts,” the commentator says, something that will try their patience and put new burdens on governments even as they seek to recover from the coronavirus.
At a minimum, that is certain to generate among many people a sense of despair and the rise of apocalyptic millenarian cults that will only make dealing with the results of the current challenge that more difficult, he suggests. And these environmental issues will thus have political and even military consequences that could make any progress almost impossible.
Kalmykov does not mention it, but there is in his catalogue one slim ray of hope. Because these looming disasters like the pandemic itself are visited on the just and unjust and the rich and the poor, they could lead to a rebirth of international cooperation if wiser heads prevail and people recognize that we truly are in all these things together.
Going it alone as all too many governments have tried in this pandemic may be attractive to those who have not thought things through, but unless there is a new wave of cooperation across national lines, which such disasters in no place respect, the future for everyone both immediate and long term will be far more dire than it needs to be.