The Contrasts in the World of Today
Although the progress made during the last half century in the whole planet is undeniable, the huge differences between the rich (or developed) countries and the poor (or underdeveloped) countries continue to be, unfortunately, one of the main characteristics of the world economy today. Concerns about the economic crisis and its consequences (unemployment, marginalization, increased inequality …) have occupied the agenda of Western societies in recent years.
With a global perspective, the most important problems that Humanity must face are not, however, in developed countries but in the Third World.
Another problem has to face the current world, especially Western countries, is that from the early 70s there was a widespread upsurge in political violence. It is about the reappearance of that political, social and ideological phenomenon called terrorism.
The growing need to consume energy to sustain a high standard of living -in Western societies, which some call “waste societies” -represents a weak flank and a source of difficult-to-solve problems. The energy we consume comes, in 88 per cent, from non-renewable fossil fuels: coal, oil and natural gas. These non-renewable energy sources – their replacement, once spent, is impossible – were accumulated underground in a very slow process of millions of years. The consumption that we are making of them in a few decades – an almost instantaneous period in the geological scale of times – is depleting that wealth and depriving future generations of an eventual more rational use.
On the other hand, AIDS is a new and specific disease of the world at the end of the 20th century. This is not only because of the specific biological and social conditions that have made it possible to enter, but also because its description and classification is unimaginable outside the framework of western medicine today.
Development and underdevelopment
- A recent report of the United Nations summarized in a few data the dramatic inadequacies of the world economic situation:
- There are some 800 million people who still do not have enough food to eat.
- 34,000 young children die every day due to malnutrition and eradicable diseases.
- Approximately seventeen million people die each year from infectious and parasitic diseases – such as diarrhea, malaria and tuberculosis – that have already disappeared in rich countries.
- A quarter of the world’s population, that is, some 1,300 million people out of a total of 5,500 million, lives in absolute poverty, without being able to cover even the basic needs of food, shelter and health.
- There are 35 million displaced or refugees.
- 80 percent of those affected by AIDS live in the Third World.
- The environmental situation is catastrophic in many regions of the planet (desertification affects areas where 850 million people live and every second deforestation is an extension of tropical forests equivalent to the surface of a football field).