Looking Ahead to 2023 – Hopes and Fears for the New Year

The nations of the world can come together when the common problem facing them is big enough. The sad reality is that each of the problems I have identified is indeed big enough for the world’s nations to see that cooperation is the only path forward

By Anil Madan

In a recent exchange with the editor, I was asked how I felt about writing an article on predictions for 2023. History tells us that every year, hope triumphs over experience as hundreds, if not thousands, of prognosticators offer up such articles. Frankly, it has been many years since I gave up reading such articles. I do not hope to stumble upon a latter-day Nostradamus. And, among the prognosticators, how would I know which to pick? The idea of my writing such an article produced no spark for me. But I allowed that although most forecasts are wrong, there might be some merit to looking at major worldwide challenges in a different way. Whereas we cannot with any assurance know exactly what will happen or when, the ultimate resolution of each challenge is filled with hopes and fears. Let us explore what looms from this perspective.

If we think of the seminal events just from the turn to this new century, we have had 23 eventful years. Let us take stock in a decidedly non-exhaustive way. There was the Y2K issue that despite prognostications of doom, turned out to be a nothingburger. Then there was the attack on the World Trade Center on 9-11-2001 that ushered in a new dimension to terrorism and sparked two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But those were not the only countries in which violence and killing became a part of daily life. Syria has an ongoing civil war. Hostilities in Yemen and in countries across Africa have raged and continue to rage. China emerged as a formidable economic and military force and continues its repression at home against Tibet and the Uyghurs and now Hong Kong is under the CCP’s thumb. Vladimir Putin invaded Georgia and Crimea, and his illegal war grinds on in Ukraine. There was the financial crisis in 2008-09 and, of course, the Covid pandemic.

Whatever the causes may be, grouped under the broad rubric of climate change, we have witnessed unprecedented heat, drought, floods, forest fires, and disastrous effects from cyclones and hurricanes. Parts of the world continue to be threatened with food insecurity and famine. The world continues to have a refugee crisis as millions seek to flee their homelands in search of greener pastures. Most recently, we have gone from the nothing burger of the Y2K scare to the Reichsbürger movement that was aimed at displacing a major democratic government. In the US as well, there was an assault on democracy as we had a President incite a mob and unleash an attack riot on the Capitol.

One can argue about how many of these events were accurately predicted. To be sure, at least some aspect of many of these were on the radar for at least some prognosticators, but it is fair to say that no one predicted accurately the full scope of most of these events.

There have been positive events too. Breakthroughs in biotechnology, gene therapy and other aspects of medicine promise new ways to deal with illnesses and injuries. Exploration of space with new telescopes and by unmanned spacecraft with promises of manned flights to follow, have opened our eyes that hitherto were blind to many aspects of our universe. Advances in technology and the Internet have opened communication pathways and connected the world as never before. There has been a seismic shift in the way that business is conducted and how supply chains are managed.

Fears and hopes of nations, humanity

With that background, let us assess some aspects of the world that reflect the fears and hopes of nations, and in some cases, of humanity itself. One cannot ascribe a ranking to these that is meaningful. For example, the Ukraine war is as existential a problem for that nation as famine is for Somalia, or a Chinese blockade/invasion is for Taiwan. And, at a broader level, failure to contain the Covid pandemic or handle intelligently a catastrophic worldwide recession could have devastating effects throughout the world. Threats from Putin and Kim Jong Un to unleash nuclear weapons present horrors of their own not just for Ukraine, South Korea, Japan, and the US but for the rest of the world from a possible nuclear winter. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 16 December 2022

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