We have climate change, the big impending crisis that will alter the ability of the earth to sustain large human populations within 100 years, a mere tick of the ecological clock, and despite the solutions being available and obvious to all, virtually nothing being done. But we also have eliminated our ability to treat bacteriological illnesses with antibiotics. The simple process of mutation-driven evolution - a process denied even today by a large number of people due to a preference for primitive mythology - is creating antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria before our very eyes. In some cases, we are down to one, or even NO effective treatments. And it should be recognized that the antibiotics in use for the last century were derived from naturally occurring compounds, essentially the 'low hanging fruit' of the anti-bacterial world. Now we just have to try to guess what might work - and the answer might very well be nothing.
Politically and economically, the world is unraveling at an even faster rate. The great European economic integration project is collapsing under the weight of nationalist resistance to community responsibility. In the United States, a bizarre strain of tribal radicalism has overtaken one of the two political parties, supported whole-heartedly by the most virulent expression of institutional corruption in modern memory. The result is an utter inability to govern the largest economy in the world at this critical time, with what policies that are being implemented exactly the wrong ones practically, but implemented nonetheless for ideological and political reasons.
The shift of the global economic center of mass eastward has begun, but neither China nor India appear to be positioned for sustainable growth, or even the maintenance of the status quo. India has huge infrastructure and economic problems and is faced off against both China and Pakistan, and China has a huge, diverse, ultimately un-governable population and an immediate ecological crisis of unprecedented toxicity and magnitude.
A century of corruption and institutional kleptocracy, coupled with a cold war legacy of unlimited supplies of arms and ideologies has left Africa increasingly in violent tatters. From Libya to Mali to CAR, Congo and Rwanda to Sudan, South Sudan and Nigeria, the fighting over political, tribal and sectarian ascendancy and access to resource wealth is accelerating and spreading like wildfire.
In the Middle East, Iraq and Iran have evolved unsustainable political structures that cannot survive intact, Syria and Egypt are in different stages of the same kind of endless civil war, Israel is starting to pay a real global price for the brutal occupation of Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan are nothing but battered proxies for their larger neighbors
It just seems like too many tipping points. All of which are exacerbated by the power of instantaneous global communications and the easy availability of powerful weapons. Unstable populations, failing governance, wealth inequality, food water and resource shortages, nuclear weapons and radical ideologies all coming together at once to...what? That's the real question. It certainly seems like the status quo cannot last, that we're seeing a sea change in the way the world works. The conflicts are endless, the powerful, despite their wealth have less ability to influence the world, violence and revolution seem contagious and governing institutions are crippled - all at a time when humanity needs to work together to avert the problems we've created for ourselves.
Who knows? Maybe it is just another generational set of challenges. Maybe it's not leading to some kind of major upheaval. Maybe we'll all just struggle along the way we always have.
But I wouldn't bet MY money on that.