As Covid threat diminishes, despots like Vladimir Putin and dangerous climate change are demanding more attention – Scotsman comment

If signs that the Covid crisis may be dissipating are borne out, 2022 should be the year when we focus our minds on restoring the economy and addressing other serious issues that have been rumbling on outside the pandemic spotlight.

There are fears Russian President Vladimir Putin could order an invasion of Ukraine this month (Picture: Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin pool photo via AP)
There are fears Russian President Vladimir Putin could order an invasion of Ukraine this month (Picture: Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin pool photo via AP)

While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, in South Africa, where it was first identified in November, officials believe the number of infections may have peaked.

This gives hope that places like Scotland, where the variant emerged later, will not have to wait too long before the same occurs. Omicron is less likely to cause serious disease, and a new antiviral pill, Paxlovid, is said to dramatically reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death.

So there are reasons to be optimistic. However, unfortunately, there are also reasons to be fearful.

With a vast Russian army menacing Ukraine, the increasingly tyrannical Vladimir Putin issued a warning to US President Joe Biden that imposing new sanctions would be a “colossal mistake”.

Sanctions are being discussed by the West in the event that Putin orders an invasion, so this seems like a threat designed to discourage interference in a major European war.

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The man who once declared “the liberal idea” had “outlived its purpose” is demonstrating just how dangerous the alternatives can be.

Meanwhile, in the US, climate change appeared to be making itself felt as devastating wildfires ripped through parts of Colorado. Scientific research has demonstrated the fairly obvious link between higher temperatures in the US West and increased wildfires.

A shocking video taken by police in the town Superior showed a line of large homes completely engulfed by fire.

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist in the midst of the flames, reported a “pretty harrowing scene”. “Genuinely hard to believe this is happening in late December in Boulder, Colorado,” he tweeted. “But take a record warm and dry fall, only one inch of snow so far this season, and add an extreme (100mph+) downslope windstorm… and extremely fast moving/dangerous fires are the result.

“...Getting real tired of living in a real-world disaster movie.”

The Covid pandemic delayed the COP26 summit by a year and the Glasgow Agreement disappointed many.

But let’s hope 2022 is the year the world truly wakes up to the threats posed by despots and dangerous climate change before it’s too late.

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