As a terribly disappointing year draws to a close, many people around the world have a feeling that the coming year could be much worse.
In 2019, the world failed to solve the problems that we have faced for many years. The Paris Climate Agreement was trampled on in Madrid; many countries, from the United States to China, India to Germany, and Brazil to Cote d’Ivoire, have increasingly used coal to produce their electricity. We have not made progress on the protection of private data, or control of artificial intelligence and biogenetic experiments. Governments, companies and individuals continued to incur debts, encouraged by low interest rates and the policies of central banks. North Korea and Iran are approaching a point of no return, at high speed, in their plans to acquire nuclear and ballistic capabilities.
Nonetheless, awareness of these issues has accelerated everywhere. The worsening of the already grave climate emergency is becoming evident, from Australia to Finland, and Brazil to France. The madness of debt is no longer concealable. The growing inequalities are recognized by the most reactionaries among us. Protests in favour of democracy are on the rise, from Santiago de Chile to Algiers and Hong Kong.
What will happen in 2020? Will the leaders continue to be blind, like ostriches with their heads buried in the sand, or will they finally look far and wide, like eagles? Will we continue to procrastinate, hoping that the problems will solve themselves? Will we continue to be deluded and believe that the tremendous advances of technological progress will be enough to boost growth, solve the problems of water scarcity, control greenhouse gas emissions, and aggravate inequalities?
It is not certain that a serious event will force the ostriches to get their heads out of the sand: the climate could worsen without the next Conference of the Parties (COP) in Glasgow taking any realistic binding decisions. Public debts could continue to explode, without anything serious being done. Banks could continue to sink into the problems caused by negative interest rates, without any central bank daring to reverse this trend. North Korea could show its ability to destroy Beijing, Tokyo, Los Angeles, or New York. Trump could be re-elected and increase his disengagement without the Europeans deciding to unite to organize their own defence.
In France, anger could continue to build up, protests could increase in scale, without anything significant changing in the country’s governance.
Everything would then be in place so that, by the end of 2020, the world could be even more dangerous and unstable than it is today; and so that we could reach a point of no return. And that, in 2021, or even before, just after the American presidential election, all these tensions start to resonate and lead to the explosion of the contradictions of the world and Europe; and France too.
Unless, from next January and onward, those in power finally hear what nature is shouting at them, hear what the youth is yelling, and see what the scientists are showing. Or perhaps, protest after protest, election after election, people choose other leaders who are finally courageous, empathetic, and convincing. Or that companies, cities, non-governmental organizations, and the media, having understood that they have nothing to expect from those who still occupy national palaces, decide to take over. To solve the problems of the world, Europe, and their respective country.
To succeed, they would have to do it quickly.
From now on, we will have to learn to count the days. For the better. Without the worst.