OPINION

The clock is ticking

The European Union is going to the G-20 summit virtually rudderless – the Czech prime minister’s government has collapsed and he himself has lost his cool, attacking Obama’s fiscal policy. In the USA, the economic recession has swept through the middle class; former homeowners are sleeping in tents. Poverty and social unrest are spreading like an epidemic throughout Eastern Europe and fear has become a global commodity. At the same time, globalization is is showing its other face – the hopeful one. During «Earth Hour,» the world’s citizens will be declaring their concern at their governments’ destruction of the environment and the criminal waste of natural resources. Most problems have become global, as has the fate of the world’s people – climate, energy, water, food, environment, garbage from overconsumption, toxic waste, immigration, poverty. Misery, ecological disasters and the dearth of resources are not restricted by borders. Money can’t buy clean air; it can’t make radioactive waste disappear and batteries discarded from all kinds of gadgets will be a burden on the planet for many years to come. The poor and destitute in the Third World will be putting continual pressure on the richer countries for a share of the pie. That is the world we live in today. Poverty is globalized. The threats are universal, but wealth is not. That is the tough environment in which the G-20 leaders are being called upon to make decisions; they will no longer be able to put things off as they have done in the past. The present calls for radical, courageous reforms by leaders with an awareness of the historic context, ready to take responsibility and risks. It is by no means certain that they will. Already the EU is stumbling about amid conflicting policies and double talk. In fact, the Czech prime minister could have been talking about Europe when he said that the US stimulus package was «paving the road to hell.»