world war
Image: Ilkin Quliyev©123RF.com

Is there anything to celebrate this year? Perhaps you’re revelling in the outcome of the US presidential election or the proliferation of renewables in the global energy mix.

Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter on 11/11/2020

For me, I’m celebrating Armistice Day (or Remembrance Day)—honouring the end of World War I at 11am today. It was a horrific war between 1914 and 1918, which at the time was idealistically called ‘the war to end all wars’.

We know the history but what if it had achieved just that; the end of all wars?

I imagine our world would be very different as many inventions (good and bad) were driven by specific needs and under the time pressure of war during the Second World War – faster air and ground transportation, better telecommunication tools, and precision-guidance systems.

Today we have jet travel, the internet and we’re on the road to fully autonomous self-driving cars. But all these innovations (from medicines to synthetic materials and more), which have modernised our world, have come at an extremely high price of human life and suffering.

For that reason, we must not forget!

The war now is on climate change, achieving a just energy transition and managing the effects of a global pandemic. However, this ‘war’ has a different character, because the battlegrounds are less clearly marked and the casualties are often less visible.

As we grapple with these threats to global economies and individual earnings and lifestyles, let’s take a step back and reflect. Ask yourself what’s important to you that is also having an impact on the world.

As an example, it could be your driving habits, which are adding to carbon emissions. Give some thought to whether you have the resources to change this lifestyle. Using public transport or, if you have the tenacity and network, getting involved in amending legislation that makes change possible for more people.

We have an obligation and an opportunity to alter our future in so many positive ways. I welcome your comments on this—am I being too idealistic?

Until next week.
Nicolette