All over history, the world has been changing since time. This week’s article will be the first of three in a series that seek to explore how planet earth has changed, man’s role in this change and nature’s response. Geological events and dating science have given us periods of great transformation since the big bang. With the expansion of the Universe which is still happening, the Earth to had undergone its peculiar expansion, the continental drift, driven by plate tectonics. Oceans and seas have been created and consumed. Land masses have been formed, broken up and pushed into mountain ranges. Deserts have disappeared and reformed elsewhere. Great plains have been filled with deposits, frozen during the ice age, and some of them have thawed subsequently. Life appeared on Earth at some stage and at the top of the food chain, man was created to have dominion over most (or all?) things.
The appearance of man on Earth changed the planet. Man became domineering, greedy, belligerent, territorial, violent, wicked, kind, and lost in his space. Nations were formed and nations went to war for territorial conquests or even for reasons as mundane as a lady’s love. Empires came, ruled, and broke up one after the other. When the Europeans came to Africa, a continent that heralded the birth of man, they decided to carve it up for themselves in perpetuity. But to do this they first had to enslave the citizens. So, they shipped their best and brightest with the help of corrupt leaderships to distant and strange lands inhospitable to the frightened captives. In these foreign lands, the captives were made to work hard to build the up the countries agriculture and the infrastructure that drove the industrial revolution. Back home in Africa, the conquering invaders stole the people’s resources, mineral rights, their arts, and intellect. What they could not take they vandalized and pilloried. Such was the story of the world that changed with the European desecration of the African continent. Vestiges of such plundering colonisation still exist today with the British, the French, and the Americans.
At various times, the forces of good tried to intervene to bring some humane governance to life in the World. These noble men were succeeding until the First and Second World Wars. By the time the second world war was over, all reasonable men saw that there was a need for a new World Order. Through dints of hard works and unwavering commitment the United Nations was created as an umbrella body of nations with equal voice and votes, charged with the commitment to resolve all conflicts through peaceful dialogues. However, with the manner in which the Second World War was prosecuted and won, it was inevitable that little blocks of alliances would spring up among the nations of the world. This was the era of the cold war between USSR (the East) and USA (the West). The Non-Aligned Nations, an umbrella body of those aligned with neither the east nor the west, was born. Yet even with all the good intentions of the UN, the ideological divides of the East and West alliances led us to the Vietnam War, and the Korean War. Age old territorial disputes and religious zealotry have equally led to Indo-Chinese War, Indo Pakistani War, Bosnian War, Chechen War, and the Arab-Israeli War. Even though three of these wars are yet unresolved, the power of dialogue and peacekeeping efforts through the United Nations have kept us from a third world war to date. And our World keeps changing.
This morning, as I finished my breakfast and was about to start writing this column on the above topic, I looked at my time as I had always done for the self-imposed records of the time it takes to write an essay of this seriousness. I then found that the time was 9:11am. As I penned down the time on my notebook, a lot came to my mind on how 9:11 became a change agent of a day that altered this world forever. The madness of a few dozen men obsessed with evil thoughts that they had spent years nurturing, planning, and perfecting unleashed unimaginable destruction on humanity, decency, decorum, and freedom to travel to anywhere on earth. The security of air transportation had been irreversibly changed with the hijack of five airliners by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation PLO in 1970. The same organisation followed through with the Munich Olympic Massacre of Israeli athletes of 1972, which altered the security arrangements of the Olympics for ever. Many years later, dissidents in Libya pulled off the 1988 Pan Am Bombing over Lockerbie in Scotland. Interspersed in all these, the IRA was waging a deadly insurgency over the independence of Northern Ireland from Britain. But whilst they were blowing up major public infrastructure in the UK, they were loath to taking human lives, and would warn about the bombing with minutes to detonation time yet enough to trigger complete or near total human evacuations.
There are so many unanswered questions about that date 9:11. The planners and the executors of the attack were not known to many including me; the main reason for the attack was never definitively known, not even to most of the major intelligence organisations of the world. Yet the attack changed the way air travels are conducted all over the World. Countries developed No-Flight lists of key and dangerous individuals branded terrorists. Al Qaeda was born and became a dreaded organisation with its leaders marked for life. America started two wars, the Afghanistan War in 2001 and the Iraq War in 2003. Both these wars spurn off the War Against ISIS, which was an international military campaign led by USA against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a potpourri of Al Qaeda terrorists and Iraqi army rejects who had seized swats of soft targets in unsettled Iraq and civil war ridden Syria. That military campaign is all but ended with the territories now restored to legitimate controls and the terrorists decimated and stateless. Syria is still in its civil war and the region is fractured, at war in Yemen, and a heartbeat away from a war with America and Israel.
It was nature that initiated the big bang and set in motion the laws of physics that have driven the expansion of the planet Earth and the Universe. The advent of humans brought with it the desire to acquire and recreate boundaries by any means necessary. Yet again, late in 2019, nature has decided to alter the world once more in most fundamental ways unimaginable except by whiz-kids like Bill Gates who have been warning the world on the dangers of an uncontrolled pandemic. The monster that Gates feared has arrived in the form of Covid-19, caused by a novel coronavirus that jumped from animals to humans in Wuhan, China sometime in the 3rd quarter of 2019.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which it has since become, is looking more deadly, more destructive and to many medical scientists a mirage. This is one enemy that cannot be seen with ordinary eyes. Scientists and doctors are struggling daily to understand its operations, its physiology, its strategy, and its mission. Governments all over the world have deployed everything and everyone to fight it. Even the military has been deployed in places, not to fight it regrettably, but to help bury the victims. It is that kind of a formidable foe.
To be continued…