It's a small world

Azza Radwan Sedky
Saturday 18 Dec 2021

​It appears that our world is much smaller than we had ever imagined, and what affects a region at one end of the world impacts another at the other far end of it.

Be it a pandemic, a political upheaval, a climate change repercussion, or economic crises, consequences stretch far beyond their original location, leaving their marks across the world. This substantiates the phrase, “It’s a small world.”

The perfect example was seen in the proliferative spread of Covid 19 as it moved pervasively from one country to another. Then, with the Omicron variant, we watch again how countries around the world identify multiple cases daily. The swiftness is alarming, and despite the banning of travel, the closure of borders, the ramping up of vaccine jabs, and the many precautionary measures, Omicron is still infecting more people as it briskly crops up here, there, and everywhere, disregarding all measures.

To defeat the pandemic and its variants, every person has to be immune to Covid 19, for we are evenly susceptible to it. The speed by which the pandemic moves from region to region is proof that, “No one is safe unless everyone is safe.” However, inequity in vaccine access accounts for the current widespread of the variant. As of October 2021, only 4.4 percent of the African population was vaccinated; this while in Canada 70 percent were fully vaccinated, in Britain, nearly 66 percent, in the EU about 62 per cent.

Still, our issue today is not with Omicron per se or even Covid 19, but with the expanse of our world, and the way things reverberate from one area to another thousands of miles away.

More evidence, proving how the world is interconnected, exists everywhere. A case in point is the effects of global warming, which, if we don’t affect change soon, will definitely take a worsening turn. However, the worst carbon emitters are not the ones that will suffer the most. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned, during his participation in the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, of the threat to coastal communities around the world. “We will say goodbye to entire cities; Miami, Alexandria, and Shanghai will all sink underwater.” Alexandria’s carbon footprints are meager compared to other cities around the world but will suffer for actions committed by others elsewhere, exhibiting how we are all in this together.

As temperatures rise, there will be many a time when crops can’t stand the heat causing catastrophic food shortages across the world. Yields of major food crops like corn and wheat will likely decrease. As wildfires and drought-like conditions in Canada and Russia, for instance, lead wheat prices to record highs, importers of wheat such as Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia will be hit hard.

Other devastating climatic effects will come in the shape of droughts, floods, and less arable land. As the polluters pollute even further, food production will suffer with serious effects on countries in need, those that have already felt the pinch of high prices.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), global food prices increased nearly 33 percent in 2021. When labour shortages occur during a pandemic, food prices rise everywhere. Then as economies begin to recover afterwards, the demand surpasses the supply resulting in food shortages and higher prices for all. The consequences of climate change will affect the world at large demanding we all work together to support adaptation and mitigation to climate change, not in our own backyard only but across the world.

Incidences and crises affect the global economy, too. When the Ever Given got itself stuck in the Suez Canal last April, and blocked the waterway, worldwide repercussions ensued. The chain supply, already exacerbated heavily from Covid 19, was disrupted further. According to Lloyds List, the Ever Given held up an estimated $9.6bn of trade along the waterway each day. And Allianz, the German insurer analysis revealed that the blockage “cost global trade between $6bn to $10bn a week.”

A further example of the world’s small-scale is seen in the spread of plant diseases by global travel and trade. When goods and commodities are moved via sea containers and other modes of trade from one region to another, they also move thousands of species, sometimes to regions where they shouldn’t be. The West Nile Virus, identified first in Uganda, Africa, hitched rides to far away areas. Today it wreaks havoc in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. The wood beetle, which damages wood in homes and buildings, is native to China and the Republic of Korea, but was introduced into the United States of America and Canada in infested wood packaging.

According to Universtat Oldenburg in Germany, “Potentially serious consequences of this [global trade] include the displacement or extinction of native species and the spread of health risks.” It continues, “Invasive species are bad news. They compete with native critters for food, destroy local ecology and, in some cases, are even dangerous to humans. And thanks to the increasingly global nature of our world, there are more and more animals discovered where they don’t belong.”

The world is shrinking even further via social media, which deserves an article by itself. Social media has intensified exposure to other cultures and other modes of living. With Smartphones and high speed wireless internet, there to enrich, inform, and connect, the world is at the tip of our fingers.

Indeed, it is a small world. Human beings, all the other species, and nature are interconnected. As the Dalai Lama said, “Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity.”

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