These two graphs describe the global situation
The famous 1987 song by REM foretold the current crisis we are facing, given that the world of American dominance is over as Republican greed has “Trumped” the common sense needed for a government to adequately care for its citizens. With its inadequate early response to the then epidemic and no public health care, the U.S. sits now on a precipice and will likely soon be faced with tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousand or even more than a million deaths and a collapsed economy.
We can make a difference here in Canada, if we carry on with the same measures that South Korea has taken, where they have indeed “flattened the curve.” The recent Report 9 by MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis provide two grim alternatives, mitigation, which could still result in many deaths or suppression, which has worked in China. Nonetheless, our economy and our society, which is heavily dependent on oil, gas, tourism and trade with the U.S., will need to morph into something closer to a more sustainable and equitable lifestyle.
From now into the future, there will be more workers than jobs and more debts than income. We will need a drastic re-design of the capitalistic system to reverse inequality and ensure that some of the wealth captured by the one percent is re-distributed. Unlike previous shocks to the system, the government must not bail out the wealthy, while the rest of us see our share diminished. Yet already, Canada is planning a multi-billion bailout for the oil and gas sector, which is also reeling from a global price war.
Ironically, environmentalists have always touted limits to growth as to what is needed to reverse climate change and the destruction of the biosphere. The COVID-19 pandemic has already resulted in cleaner air, lower C02 emissions and less pollution. We need to find a way for the population to carry on in an economy no longer dependent on growth. Solutions must include reversing what has been a steady increase of income inequality by significantly raising taxes for the very wealthy and erasing debts for those who have no hope of ever paying them.
It is only March of the first year of a new decade and already we have seen remarkable shocks to the global system, including a high level political assassination, the shooting down of an international airliner, massive wildfires in Australia and now a pandemic that is devastating the economy and threatens to kill millions. As the Covid-19 virus continues to spread, we also face the increased potential for more climate change shocks, such as intense storms, floods and more fires.
Here in B.C., imagine what could happen if the winter’s heavy snowfall combines with a cool spring and sudden, quick melt and heavy rains to result in massive flooding. There could be thousands of people evacuated to community centres where they no longer would be able to maintain social distancing. And/or another fire season like we had in 2017 and 2018, with so many people evacuated.
The pandemic has exposed all the flaws in the capitalist system that has siphoned off most of the wealth from the majority into the hands of the few. Suddenly the blatantly absurd and extremely damaging “war on terror” has disappeared as a driving force in the world. Quickly becoming an economic and political basket case, the U.S, once supposed leader of the free world, is heading to the benches. In just Los Angeles alone, there are 20,000 homeless people and 80 percent of public school children require a free or reduced cost lunch. Imagine the future after the virus has devastated lives and the economy and the picture is not pretty.
Indeed, it is truly the end of the world as we know it, and while most of us still feel fine that may not be the case in the future.
We are in World War Three, the war to end all wars, where the enemy is both a virus and a political and economic system that is inequitable and unsustainable. Most North Americans are in debt now; imagine what will happen when they have no jobs, no food, no health care and no future? There are more guns in households than people and anarchy is a real possibility with a breakdown in services and government control. China is a totalitarian government and they had to use their army to keep their citizens locked up to stop the pandemic from spreading. It is truly a upside down world, where survival only works when citizens do not have full freedom.
Here is the best website to keep up-to-date on the global situation, with detailed statistics and graphs for every country where the virus is significant: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/