They say Man is a social animal. Then, why haven’t men ever lived peacefully with each other? The desire of humans to feel great leads us to doom.
The First and the second World Wars were catastrophic in their own ways. Taking the lives of millions, and scarring the rest both emotionally and physically. World order changes, countries collapse, nature suffers; all for establishing the dominion of one country over the other.
The First World War went on for four years (1914-1918), killing and seriously injuring 17 Million people. The Second World War (1939-1945) caused an estimated 50- 80 million deaths within the course of six years.
The end of the second world war began a new era, that of nuclear nations. It was on July 16th, 1945 that the first nuclear bomb was tested in New Mexico. Soon after that, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings took place killing 130,000 and 149000 people, respectively. It left these cities suffering for decades to come.
At present, there are 14000 nuclear warheads in the world, 93% of which is with America and Russia.
The United Nations and all its subsidiaries were created after the second world war to decrease the possibility of a third one. It tries to maintain the diplomatic relations between its 193 member nations and aims to prevent the escalation of any conflict into a war.
The Possibility of a Third World War
The growing hostility of some powerful nations against each other and the development of military might of these nations is enough to believe that a third world war might be well- underway. However, there are people who believe that the possibility of a world war is slim, due to the efforts of the United Nations. The fact is, the UN can’t do much if two countries have decided that the path for them is an all-out war.
America and Russia might go into war. Being nations with huge influence and might, their war might trigger another world war.
The second most probable war, speculated by experts around the world to cause a great catastrophe, is one between Pakistan and India. In the past too, the countries fought over Kashmir. Their relationship with U.S.A and China can further escalate the problems and turn into a major nuclear war.
Turkey, violating the airspace and maritime claims of Greece is being observed as a push towards a world war. The issuance of sanctions by the U.S on Turkey can lead to it attacking the U.S, creating a split in NATO. While Turkey and Russia being on amicable terms can prove harmful to the U.S.
The issue of Taiwan or the unification Of North and South Korea are some issues that can bring China and the U.S. to different sides of the warzone.
Skirmishes and intelligence leaks between these fighting nations have been witnessed quite often over the years. However, an all-out war has been avoided until now.
When asked about the possible outcome of a third world war, Vladimir Putin (President of Russia), said that another War will be the end of humanity. Elon Musk, a great scientist and businessman, goes one step further and says, “If we need to preserve humanity from becoming extinct, we need to become interplanetary beings.”
Larger, mightier nations, selling weaponry to smaller ones and hence trying to establish control over them seems like a slow and steady preparation for something disastrous.
William Perry, former Secretary of Defense of the United States, has been working day and night even in his nineties to prevent nations from using their nuclear weapons. He is of the opinion that we are not as scared as we should be, of a nuclear war.
When Heads of Nations and other experts do realize that war will wipe out humanity from the face of the Earth, is there anything that can trigger it?
In the past, wars were fought over the assassination of heads of state, idealogical differences, or the desire of one man to rule an entire continent. However, these reasons will not trigger another World War in the future (hopefully). Moreover, countries are not as closely allied as they used to be. Hence, wars and skirmishes between two countries are less likely to develop into a world War.
Cold War-like situations might also occur because of advancements in intelligence sharing and collection.
The reasons that can trigger a war in the future are numerous. From the conventional ones like religious fanaticism and border disputes to fights over resources.
Since the hostility between countries is on the rise, a fight over a precious resource like water can lead nations into a display of their power. This might lead to a world war-like situation.
The most disturbing fact is that, with the advancement in technology, weaponizing various resources has also become easier.
A Nuclear War
The first thought that comes to most minds when war is mentioned, is the possibility of Nuclear weapons (nukes) being used. If a major war broke out between India and Pakistan, both Nations in possession of ‘nukes’, major cities like New Delhi and Karachi will be bombed leading to millions losing their lives. Studies suggest that the aftermath of a nuclear war between these nations will result in poisonous fumes in the sky which will completely cover the Sun’s rays. This will result in severe frost, drought, and dry winters for over 10 years. This is the amount of time that nature will take to restore if only a few hundreds of nuclear warheads are detonated.
In comparison, if a major war broke out between the USA and Russia, the aftermath will be nothing short of a mini Ice Age. With nuclear war, the end of the Earth and all life on it is inevitable.
With the emergence of the covid Pandemic, Biological warfare will not be surprising. With many scientists speculating that China might be behind this pandemic, trying to develop a bioweapon. Wuhan lab is known as the largest ‘Virus Bank of Asia’. Although, we may not know the truth behind the origin of the Coronavirus, the truth that Biological warfare is the future of warfares has been established. Many major nations have labs like the one in Wuhan.
The most famous and disturbing among those is the U.S government’s top-secret bioweapons lab, known as the ‘Dugway Proving Ground’. Spread over 800,000 acres of land,
the lab is said to have performed various tests and experiments on biowarfare. Operation Bellweather, an experiment that reached the public eyes was particularly disturbing. Mosquitoes were infected with inert forms of pathogens and released upon human volunteers! These people were bitten by many of these mosquitoes at a time.
Makes one think about the desperation that leads a person to become a lab-rat.
Another incident was the leak of the VX nerve agent to nearby farmland in skull valley. The farmers noticed thousands of sheep dying due to poisoning.
Dugway is also used as a training area for soldiers. Soldiers are trained to handle various chemical threats at the facility, using simulations. People at Dugway were exposed to biological and chemical stimulants which were believed to be safe but later proved to be fatal to the lives of the people working there.
Biowarfare also includes genetic engineering. With increased emphasis on genome editing, many new species can be synthesized in labs.
-The first artificial Poliovirus was developed in 2002 at DARPA.
-The Gingko lab in Boston, receives 5 million synthetic genomes every month, to try and possibly synthesize a new species.
In such a case, the emergence of a more deadly virus than Covid does not seem impossible.
Genetic engineering might help in combating many diseases but every new invention has a dark side to it and hence, those who have realized the harms of genetic engineering have called it the ‘half-pipe of doom’.
This is the age of intelligence and data; whoever has access to that is mightier than the rest.
A cyber attack can threaten everything, from a bank account to the national security of a country. It is cheap and easy for a country to develop a sophisticated cyber weapon. Compromising the cuber security of a nation can cause considerable damage to society, the government, and the state as a whole.
The first famous example is a cyber weapon known as STRUXNET (2010). A series of 0s and 1s were able to demolish an Iranian secret Nuclear Weapons Plant. It was able to get into the computers that controlled the nuclear plant through infected USB drives. Nations that were against Iran’s Nuclear Proliferation are speculated to be the perpetrators.
Iran has been facing many such attacks recently, the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh did not need killers on-site, but a remote-controlled weapon.
The next example is as recent as 2020. The SolarWinds hack, also known as, a supply chain attack. It was able to infect 18000 computers and compromise tech giants like Microsoft and Google. It pushed updates to all the customers of SolarWinds and thus gained control of the infrastructure. It was discovered by the Cyber Security company FireEye. This was termed as a sophisticated method of espionage carried out by Russia.
Russia and Israel are the two nations to be feared when it comes to cyberwarfare.
This is the age when wars can be fought by weaponizing satellites, reducing human participation to a minimum. Artificial Intelligence and hacking will be the weapons of future wars. The depictions of futuristic war movies are soon set to become reality.
As mentioned earlier, the outcome of a World War will lead to the destruction of humanity as we know it today. The Earth will take decades to recover and life will only be able to flourish after centuries.
The words of Albert Einstein can be used as a reference to this claim of the end of nature- ‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
Any kind of warfare, may it be Cyber, bio, or nuclear; humans, due to our greed for power, will not stop if a war starts. If states lose their cool and, tensions start escalating between nations, international organizations will crumble. They will not be able to stop the human greed for power and might. Humans will become the reason for the doom of humanity.