History of the Universe

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This is part of a SWOT analysis of the current world situation.

There are so many threats to the world that we can only deal with some of the major ones. I classify them as

National Governments



Debt and poverty




Longer Term

National Governments

This is one of the Threats identified during a SWOT analysis of the current world situation.

National Governments are one of the threats facing the world today, as the author's see it.

We live in a time of international chaos. The world is divided into about 200 nation states, each with a government which claims total power (or sovereignty) over its land and people.

These governments, whether elected or dictators, do what they think is best for themselves, not what is best for the whole world.

The borders of ex-colonies have often been arbitrarily drawn across tribal geographical or migrational boundaries.

These countries are often small and neither economically viable nor politically stable.

Dictatorships can take over nations and the UN has no right to do anything about it until the dictator threatens another nation.

Often only military dictatorships can enforce discipline on poor people who are getting poorer due to national debt and rising world prices. Democracy stands little chance of growing in these countries.

Islamic fundamentalism is spreading, establishing religious dictatorships which do not recognize human rights.

China has been isolated from the rest of the world for 5000 years. Ruled by communist dictators and being one of the poorest nations on Earth, she is unlikely to take a full part in the world in the near future.


This is one of the Threats identified during a SWOT analysis of the current world situation.

In all regions of the world, national governments spend far more money on arms than on development, health or education.

Military sending takes colossal amounts of money, technical and human resources which are urgently needed for development.

Chemical and biological weapons are being made in new varieties and greater quantities.

Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons continue to spread.

The movement of people fleeing war is still a huge problem in the world today. In 2010 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated there were 10 million refugees and a further 23 million people whose status is of concern. No national government sees any benefit to themselves in paying to help them.


This is one of the Threats identified during a SWOT analysis of the current world situation.

It is hard to over-emphasize the extent to which the world today relies for its energy on oil. If the rich nations (where most of the oil is burnt) were to stop using it, their economies would almost come to a halt. A huge investment will be needed to switch the world economy to a sustainable form of energy.

International trade is heavily weighted against the developing countries. Industrial governments refuse to accept UN proposals for fair terms of trade and reform of the international monetary system. Debt and falling prices means the poor are getting poorer.

Debt and Poverty

This is one of the Threats identified during a SWOT analysis of the current world situation.

The Economist newspaper estimated in 2012 that nations owe a total of 39 trillion (thousand billion) dollars, a total which is rising faster than total economic output. Nobody knows where this unstable situation will lead.

According to globalissues.org, in 2005 the poorest countries owed the rich ones about half a trillion dollars.

The aid which most rich countries give to poor countries is often tied to large engineering projects or purchases from the donor country which are not always appropriate to the recipient country.

The burning down of the forests which began 10,000 years ago continues today. To make money to pay their debts poor countries are destroying their wealth. Tropical rain forests are being burnt down to clear land for fields. In 2012 around 150,000 square kilometres of tropical rainforest, equivalent to the size of England and Wales, is destroyed every year, according to rainforestfoundationuk.org.

Social Threats

This is one of the Threats identified during a SWOT analysis of the current world situation.

Laws and police methods vary by country, making it easy for international crime and terrorism to use these differences for their own ends.

In 2012 the global human population reached 7 billion, and this will probably double in the next 50 years.

The World Bank reports that the share of global population living below a day (at 2005 prices) fell from 70 percent in 1981 to 47 percent in 2005, but because of population growth the number of people living below that line remained about 2.5 billion.

According to UNICEF, in 2012 one person dies of starvation every 3.6 seconds. Usually it is a child under the age of 5. At least half these deaths could be prevented by a few low-cost health actions. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) reports that 37% per cent of the developing world's population - 2.5 billion people - lack improved sanitation facilities, and over 780 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources.

This is the reason for most common diseases in poor countries.

The population explosion, sparked by industrialism, is the cause of many of the world's other problems. Around the world cities are growing larger, producing slums and poverty for many and great wealth for a few. Rich countries waste a great deal of money and resources by needless packaging, by failing to recycle paper, glass and other materials, by producing new fashions rather than new goods, and by producing goods of poor quality which have short lives


This is one of the Threats identified during a SWOT analysis of the current world situation.

Acid rain is created by some nations and affects others.

Land is being polluted by chemicals.

The ozone layer is thinning due to pollution of the air. This increases the risk of cancer for people and animals.

Toxic waste produced by industry is often dumped on developing countries.

Accidents involving dangerous chemicals and nuclear materials affect people, land, sea and air. Most of humanity's waste ends in the oceans, often without any processing.

Rivers flow through different countries, passing pollution on.

Humans have been hunting animals to extinction for at least 25 thousand years, but now, as the forests are burnt and rivers and lakes are polluted, so animals and plants are becoming extinct by sheer carelessness.

Climate Threats

This is one of the Threats identified during a SWOT analysis of the current world situation.

For the past 8000 years, the Earth has been gradually cooling, but that dramatically changed with the Industrial Revolution.

Holocene temperature variations compared to average of 20th century. Figure after Robert A. Rohde.

Now the Earth is warming, probably because of the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide pollution of the atmosphere. Most of the greenhouse gases are made by the rich countries who will not reduce them much because of the damage that would do to their economies. Instead they blame the poor countries for burning their forests. Warming will probably change the growth of plants, leading to more mass movements of people. Sea level will rise, flooding major coastal cities.

In the medium term the Earth we may learn now to control the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In which case the gradual cooling might resume. We might even head towards another glacial. This will cause even more problems than global warming.

Longer Term Threats

This is one of the Threats identified during a SWOT analysis of the current world situation.

In the medium to long term we can expect a huge meteorite impact, causing mass extinctions. We are not sure what the effects of the reversal of the Earth's magnetic field will be.

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History of the Universe eBook
History of the Universe eBook
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Written by Wyken Seagrave
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