“Everybody agrees that there are dark clouds on the horizon, and there are risks,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in an address here on Thursday.

That specific line was on the global economy. But it was woven into a speech that spoke to a much larger set of anxieties about the world. On climate change, he said, “I believe we are losing the race. … And we have this paradox: The reality is proving to be worse than scientists had foreseen, and all the last indicators show that.”

When it comes to the prospect of technologies like artificial intelligence to prevent terrorism and humanitarian crises, Guterres lamented, the solutions require “more and more interrelated” actions among nations “but at the same time the response is more and more fragmented.”

Guterres sounded more downbeat than most voices. But the general theme of people being buffeted by their circumstances rather than master of them was reinforced in part by who was here.