( a short version has been published on Linkedin)
Whats happening now, with the corona crises, shows how the world / human beings have become vulnerable to disruptions of “business as usual’ , or better: current ‘life as usual’ . Only think of global connections when suddenly all countries retreat within their borders, even physically closed. Shipping around goods and resources stops, while most production is far from the needs, or relying on parts from abroad (in the first place think of medicines, protection devices, etc). Suddenly we have to go back to basics. The same can happen with energy disruptions ( as we had in the seventies and eighties with oil boycotts, or blackouts), and can happen with food chains ( grasshoppers destroying yields…), water supply ( due to droughts, and retracting glaciers) and not to forget materials resources: countries limiting export, for their own local needs ( think of the trade war between US and China, mainly bout resources needs).
Anything can happen, and disrupt the whole system, and it will aways come from an unexpected development: like now this virus pandemic. That is, the WHO has warned for that already many times. And there is even the option that we have triggered this pandemic, its all related ( see the article in the Guardian, )
This is only one of a possible series of events, as we can learn from the past, more specific the plagues in old Egypt: Most of these related to each other: probably extreme high waters, algae blooming, , massive fish dying, Which triggered a frog explosion, followed by massive dying , causing a mosquito plague, hygiene dropped , cattle diseases jump over to humans . Combined with volcanic eruptions, darkness , and weather changes.
We are now in a different era, but wit comparable events: weather changes, related plagues and diseases (I was recently tested for Dengue, in the Netherlands…). increased risks of botulism and legionella due to higher surface water temperatures, massive ice melting, forest fires, droughts, huge biodiversity loss, soil degradation threatening agriculture yields, and so on. Even the grasshopper plague is happening now.
Yet more to come, potentially . “The System” , the Island Earth and all the activities it contains*, reacts in unexpected ways. We can imagine all kinds of problems, though it usually turns out that the real trigger is somewhere else. Nevertheless, some potential causes for lock-down of our global society, have been identified: like the mysterious death of bees, not pollinating part of our food crops, for instance. Scarcity or wars over resources, (see the book Resource Wars). Which actually already take place, but has not led to a system crash ( so far…). Soil degradation is a candidate. Its assumed that only another 60 yields are possible, before soil gives up. Most of these disasters happen quietly and slowly, and humanity will not react in time.
But then ,the question is, what can cause immediate panic and lock down, besides the current pandemic by the Corona virus? For instance a blackout , as has been described as fiction in book form, a real page turner. (Blackout). Others could be: The turn of the gulfstream…. the warm water stopping to flow in the North Atlantic ? Switching of the earth magnetic field? GPS systems failure? Massive algae blooming ?
All of these potential disasters might not be life threatening at first sight, but they will cause worldwide distribution to stop at some point, and then it becomes life threatening.
Its not a pessimistic view, or doomsday thinking, and its not meant to frighten anyone, its just meant as realistic observation of whats happening and could happen. And we should act and prepare upon accordingly. We should reorganize society. At a more resilient, locally and communal organized level .
What we see now, as a consequence of measures to limit the corona damage, could provide some clues on how to reorganize our society to make it less vulnerable.
– Focus on, and give priority to, basic services: health care, education, food supply, etc. (System Resilience)
– organize everything as local as possible . At least, make sure that the basis can take over. (Society resilience)
– make home the center of life and work again, as much as possible (n individual resilience)
– make sure that a concentrated living areas and their surroundings: cities, as best manageable units of society, act as really “smart cities”, which is having emergency plans and provisions to take care of its inhabitants in times of stress.  (and not like a city hung up on lots of technology and data. These systems can fail, and you can’t eat them)
Most likely, we are just at the beginning of this drama, more lessons will follow when the crises is completely unfolding. At the moment I am thinking that the government should not rescue businesses, but people ( and not people via these businesses, but directly. So that we don’t create a lock in, and can decide with which ones to continue, without worrying about the people. Id we dont act now and fast, the opportunity is lost: big business is already making plans to make up for their ‘losses’ ! ( when the incentives stay the same…)
Try to think of it as if you are alone on a small island, what is important, whats first to deal with, and what to preserve.
All the best and keep up the spirit!
* if you want to read more, there is time now to make plans , here is a suggestion (..) : PEOPLE vs RESOURCES, restoring a world out of balance.