Humankind faces big challenges with needs of upcoming decade

The 2020s have the potential to be the decade that the 2010s weren’t. And we desperately need it to be so. 

This decade will be a time of many milestones. In the mid-20s, the world’s population is expected to hit 8 billion people. India will surpass China as the most populous country in the world. 2029 will mark the 100 year anniversary of the world’s greatest economic crisis, and 2026 will mark the 250th year of America’s existence.

The economic and political challenges that we face in the 2020s, and how we act upon them, will define much of the near future of humanity. The most urgent of these challenges is the issue of the climate crisis. 

Serious, direct action on the issue of the climate crisis will be necessary to mitigate the effects of our current crisis. The second half of the 2010s brought extreme weather with increasingly disturbing regularity in the form of floods, wildfires and hurricanes. By the second half of the 2020s, it might be too late. 

In 2018, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report that stated we have 12 years to act on the issue before irreparable damage has been done. Those 12 years expire in 2030, meaning that this decade will be the most important time for international governments to take action, in the hopes of saving millions of lives and preventing global environmental destabilization.

Another crucial challenge of the decade to come is the moral question of wealth inequality. The 2010s, with the rise of movements like Occupy Wall Street and politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, saw the issue rise to the forefront of national politics. 

This decade, beginning with the 2020 election, provides the greatest opportunity for combating the worst case of inequality since America’s last ‘20s. The United States today is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. We have an obligation to make sure that no one goes hungry in the United States.

In addition to these issues, America will face a series of questions about its place in the world. The growing power of China, with its particular brand of stifling authoritarianism, is only projected to grow even more over the next decade, expanding its economic and diplomatic power until it rivals the United States as one of the world’s great superpowers. America will need to return to its former role on the world stage in order to counter Chinese expansionism.

In tandem with the growing threat of China is another foreign policy question that looms large going into 2020—the decline in international alliances that has been brought on by the Trump administration in the second half of the 2010s. The course that crucial alliances like NATO will take over this next decade is largely dependent on the result of the 2020 election, which will likely be a showdown between President Trump and a Democrat who will take an alternative approach to foreign policy.

The 2020s is a decade of both great possibility and great challenge. The actions that we take will be key to our future going forward both as a nation, as a world, and as a species. We can only hope that we act before it is too late.

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