Into the Hottest Century and into Epochal Change


  • Göran Therborn University of Cambridge
Palabras clave: Globalization, Geopolitics, Pandemic, Inequality, Neoliberalism, Climate Crisis, Climate Politics, US-China Conflict, Decline of the West


The 21st century will be the hottest century in thousands of years, and the world’s social landscape is volcanic. Global politics and social relations will be dominated by two issues, the climate crisis and the US-China rivalry. This paper analyses their pas­sage through the «inequality pandemic» of Covid-19, weakening some pertinent forces and strengthened others, and further the contexts and prospects of the climate crisis and the US-China conflict. Governmental response to the pandemic terminated the global regime of neoliberalism and untrammelled market globalization, which have been succeeded by geopolitical conflict and great power domestic mobilization. The profound technological and social transformations needed to meet the climate crisis are likely to remain in the hands of politics as usual, with messy but hardly apocalyptic results. The historical context of the US-China conflict is the half millennium of Western world domi­nation, by a dynasty of states from Portugal to USA. The rise of China as an economic and technological superpower opens a third phase of the decline of the Western empire, after decolonization and the blowback from the failed attempts to westernize the non-Western world after the Cold War victory. The end of the Western empire will probably come in this century –short of nuclear war–, but what will succeed it is an open question.


Los datos de descargas todavía no están disponibles.


Aburto, J. M., et al. (2021), «Quantifying impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through life expectancy losses: a population-level study of 29 countries», International Journal of Epidemiology, 1-12. DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyab207

Alvaredo, F. et al. (2018), «World Inequality Report 2018». Available in:

Andrasfay, T. and Goldman, N. (2021), «Reductions in US life expectancy due to COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact on the Black and Latino popula¬tions», Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118 (5), 1-6.

Bade, G. (2021), «Corporate America fights uphill battle against anti-China push», Politico, 1 September. Available in:

Bangladesh Ministry of Finance (2021), «Bangladesh Economic Review 2021». Avail-able in:

Bazinet, K. R. (2001), «A fight vs. evil, Bush and cabinet tells U.S.», New York Daily News 17 November.

Biden, J. (2021), «Remarks by President Biden on America’s Place in the World», 04 February, The White House. Available in:¬ing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/02/04/remarks-by-president-biden-on-americas-place-in-the-world/

Brown, M.; Chewning, E. and Singh, P. (2021), Preparing the United States for the Superpower Marathon with China, in T. Chabra; R. Doshi; R. Haas and E. Kimball (eds.), Global China: Assessing China's Growing Role in the World (pp. 151-61). Washington: Brookings Institution Press.

Buchanan, L.; Bai, Q. and Patel, K. (2020), «Black Lives Matter may be the largest movement in US history», New York Times, 3 July.

Capgemini (2021), «World Wealth Report 2021». Available in:

CEPAL (Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe) (2021), «Crecimiento de América Latina y el Caribe en 2021 no alcanzará a revertir los efectos ad-versos de la pandemia». Available in:

Chancel, L. and Piketty, T. (2015), «Carbon and Inequality: from Kyoto to Paris Trends in the global inequality of carbon emissions (1998-2013) & prospects for an equitable adaptation fund World Inequality Lab», HAL Id: halshs-02655266. Available in:

Chomsky, N., and Pollin, R. (2020), Climate Change and the Global Green New Deal, London: Verso.

Clark, C. (2013), The Sleepwalkers: How Europe went into war in 1914, New York: Harper/Collins.

Donnan, S. et al. (2021), «Millions are tumbling out of the middle class in historic setback», Bloomberg Businessweek, 7 April

Doshi, R. (2019), «Beijing’s Bismarckian Ghosts: How Great Powers Compete Econo-mically». Available in:¬jings-bismarckian-ghosts

The Economist (17 July 2021), «Biden’s new China doctrine».

_____ (23 July 2021), «Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries».

_____ (24 August 2021), «Xi Jinping’s talk of ‘common prosperity’ spooks the prosperous».

_____ (28 August 2021), «Fleshing out the olive».

EDGAR (2020), «Fossil CO2 emissions of all world countries». Available in:

Eurostat (2021), «Life expectancy decreased across the EU». Available in:

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) (2021), «The state of food security and nutrition in the world». Available in:

Figes, O. (2014), Die Ukraine gibt es nicht, in C. Dathe and A. Rostek (eds.), MAJDAN!: Ukraine, Europa (pp. 67-71). Berlin: Tapeta.

Forbes (2021), «Forbes 55th Annual World’s Billionaires List: Facts and Figures 2021». Available in:

Fridays for Future (2021), Strike Statistics. Available in:

Fukuyama, F. (2021), «The end of American hegemony». Available in:

Gill, I. and Nishio, A. (2021), «The global recovery is bypassing the poorest countries». Available in:

Global Commons Alliance (2021), «Global Commons Survey: Attitudes to Transformation and Planetary Stewardship». Available in:¬etary-stewardship

Global Greens (2021). Available in:

Grazia, V. De, (2005), Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance through Twentieth-Century Europe, Cambridge Mass. The Belknap Press.

Hassol, S. J.; Ebi, K. and Serkez, V. (2021), «The global impact of extreme heat», New York Times, 21 July.

Hay, C. (2007), The genealogy of neoliberalism, in R. Roy et al.(eds.), Neoliberalism: National and Regional Experiments with Global Ideas (pp. 51-70). London: Routledge.

Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) (2021), «Global Peace Index 2021», Available in:

International Energy Agency (IEA) (2021a), «Global Energy Review: CO2 Emissions in 2020». Available in:

_____ (2021b), «Global Energy Review 2021». Available in:¬ports

_____ (2021c), «Net Zero by 2050». Available in: https://

International Labour Organization (ILO) (2021a), «COVID-19 and the world of work», Seventh edition. Available in:

_____ (2021b), «World Employment and Social Outlook. Trends 2021». Available in:

International Monetary Fund (IMF) (2021), «Fiscal Monitor Database of Country Fiscal Measures in Response to the Covid19 Pandemic». Available in: https://www.imf.orgIntergovernmental.

Karlinsky, A. and Kobank, D. (2021), «Tracking excess mortality across countries during the COVID-19 pandemic with the World Mortality Dataset», eLife (10:e69336). DOI: 10.7554/eLife.69336

Kaufman, D. et al. (2020), «Holocene global mean surface temperature, a multi-method reconstruction approach», Scientific Data, 7 (201).

Kennedy, P. (2021), «Whether China’s rise means America’s fall», Available in:

Kimberley, N. (2021), «Why US business is powering ahead in China despite tensions», South China Morning Post, 17 August.

Kochhar, R. (2021), «The pandemic stalls growth in the global middle class, pushes poverty up sharply». Available in: https://

Lahoud, N. (2021), «Bin Laden’s Catastrophic Success», Foreign Affairs, September/October.

Leffer, C.; Lykins, J. and Yang, E. (2021), «Preliminary analysis of excess mortality in India during the COVID-19 pandemic». DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.04.21261604

Li, Ch. (2021), Xi Jingping’s «Proregress», in T. Chabra, R. Doshi, R. Haas, E. Kimball (eds.), Global China: Assessing China’s Growing Role in the World (pp. 41-52). Washington: Brookings Institution Press.

Maddison, A. (2007), Contours of the World Economy, 1-2030 A.D. Essays in Macro-Economic History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mahler, D. G. et al. (2021), «Updated estimates of the impact of Covid-19 on global poverty: Turning the corner on the pandemic in 2021?». Available in:

Mainichi (newspaper) (2 August 2021), «Japan’s average longevity hit record high». Available in:

Milanovic, B. (2014), «Trends in global income inequality and their political implications». PowerPoint presentations, Graduate School, City University of New York.

Milanovic, B. (2016), Global Inequality. A New Approach for the Age of Globaliza¬tion, Cambridge MA: The Belknap Press.

OECD (2021), «OECD Economic Outlook, no. 109». Available in:

Mudge, S. (2016), «Neoliberalism, accomplished and ongoing», in S. Springer et al. (eds.), The Handbook of Neoliberalism (pp. 71-104). London: Routledge

O’Toole, C. (2020), «The lockdown tale of two economies in Ireland: How Big Tech and Pharma bucked the trend», Quarterly Economic Commentary, Autumn, 47-65.

Oxfam (2021), «The Inequality Virus». Available in:

Pew Research Center (2021a), «People in advanced economies say their society is more divided than before the pandemic».Available in:

Pew Research Center (2021b), «Pressing China on human rights –even if it hurts economic relations has American bipartisan support», Available in:

Rogers, T. et al. (2020), «Racial disparities in Covid-19 mortality among essential workers in the United States». Available in:

Sakwa, R. (2016), Frontline Ukraine:Crisis in the Borderlands, London: I.B. Taurus

Seligman, B.; Ferranna, M. and Bloom, D. (2021), «Social determinants of mortality from Covid19: A simulation study using NHANES». Available in: https//

Slobodan, Q. (2018), Globalists, Cambridge MA: Harvard Univerity Press.

Statistics Singapore (2021),«Complete Life Tables for Singapore Resident Population 2019-2020». Available in: https//

Thunberg. G. et al. (2021), «Dear adults, you are failing us», New York Times, 21-22 August.

Tollefson, J. (2021), «COVID curbed carbon emissions following the COVID-19 –but not by much», Nature, 15 January.

United Kingdom (2021), Covid-19 confirmed deaths in England (to January 2021) report.Available in:

UNAIDS (2021), «Fact Sheet 2021». Available in:

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (2021), «A Comparison of Selected Stimulus Packages in 2008 and 2020». Available in:

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2021), «World Economic Situation and Prospects: July 2021». Available in:

UN Development Programme (UNDP) (2020),«Human Development Report 2020».Available in:>2020-report

UN Environment Programme (2020), «Emissions Gap Report 2020». Available in:

US Bureau of the Census (2021a), «Income and Poverty in the United States», Available in:

US Bureau of the Census (2021b), «The Supplemental Poverty Measure, 2020». Available in:

Watson Institute (2021), The Costs of War. Available in:

Wiener Institut für Wirtschaftsvergleiche (2021), «Cautious optimism as Eastern European economies adapt to Covid-19». Available in:

Woolf, S.; Master, R. and Aron, L. (2021), «Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on life expectancy across populations in the USA and other high income countries: simulations of mortality data», British Medical Journal, 23;373 (1343). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.n1343

World Bank (2021a), World Bank Open Data. Available in:

World Bank (2021b), Global Outlook. Available in:

World Economic Forum (2020), «These are the top 10 manufacturing countries in the world». Available in:

World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) 2020. Available in:

World Meteorological Association (WMO) (2021), «Climate change and impacts accelerate». Available in:

Worldometer (2021), Available in:

Xi Jinping (2021), «Speech on the CCP’s 100th Anniversary». Available in: https://asia.nikkei,com/politics/full-text-of-xi-jinping-s-speech-on-the-ccp-s-100th-anniversary

Zakaria, F. (2011), The Post-American World, New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Cómo citar
Therborn, G. (2021). Into the Hottest Century and into Epochal Change. Revista de Estudios Globales. Análisis Histórico y Cambio Social, 1(1), 72–97.