📑 What lessons will we learn from the virus?

Bookmarked What lessons will we learn from the virus? (The Monthly)

Having seen our decommissioned manufacturing industry struggling to produce face shields and masks for health workers – what would have taken them a day four years ago took one car company more than a fortnight – and the inadequacy of global supply chains in a crisis, might both sides of politics rethink their shared hostility to anything resembling protected industry? Will public investment in science become respectable again? Will science itself become respectable? Having seen the power of Nature, and recognised that bellicosity, denial and posturing are futile defences against it, and for the time being allowed that scientific knowledge is humanity’s best hope, will we take the lesson to climate change as well?

Don Watson stops to look back at the current crisis so far and wonders what lessons might be learnt. He reflects upon the the hopeless optimism presented by the worlds leaders and the strife that has gotten us into.

Pity our poor leaders confronted with the new reality. In the first weeks they did what comes naturally: they gave us optimism. The Chinese began by pretending it wasn’t there and shooting the messengers. The Brazilians said it was a “fantasy”. The Italians said, “Go to the piazza.” The Iranians said, “Go to Qom.” The Australians said, “Go to the football.” President Trump said go wherever you like, it’s a Democratic “hoax”, it will vanish “like a miracle”, it’s nothing to worry about, we have it under control, “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself” etc. Optimism has killed thousands.

This optimism has led to discussions about war. However, Watson argues that if this were a ‘war’ then we would have been more prepared.

This is not a war. If pandemics bore any relationship to war, nations would prepare for them. War and preparations for it are incessant and obscenely expensive state activities and a lucrative trade for immense corporations. But this pandemic, though long predicted by scientists (and Bill Gates, among others), and portended by HIV/AIDS, Hendra, SARS, MERS and Ebola, arrived as if all of a sudden by spaceship from another universe.

Watson closes with a message of hope that maybe some good can come out of this in regards to the future of industry and how we may respond to the challenges of global warming.

 

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