At a fork in the road

We are a critical juncture for humanity. The climate crisis and species extinction are the number one existential challenge. To date, we have singularly failed to deal with what this means for us as a species, collectively, nationally, globally.

Now this very real threat has been almost sidelined by the overwhelming impact of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has swept away everything we thought solid, indisputable and true. Its impact has undermined many of our institutions, ways of life, and our assumptions about how things are done that we, like much of the world, have held dear for the past forty years or more.

Business as usual

It is most unlikely that we can simply “go back to the way things were before the outbreak” even if we wish to do so. Governments have extended their powers in unprecedented ways, democracy has been put on hold, debt is increasing at a previously unimaginable rate, a myriad businesses have already vanished for good, and the global system of trade and exchange is undermined. There will be no return tomorrow morning to “business as usual” – too much has already been broken.

And this is only just the beginning . . .

The sad truth is that many, many more people will die before this pandemic is over. It may be several years before we find a cure or a means of fully containing the virus. Years! This stretches the imagination.

While the media is talking of a vaccine being produced in a year to eighteen months using new technologies (1), we know it can take as much as ten years or more to develop a vaccine that can fully immunise us against viral infections (2). In other words, we will somehow have to keep going for a long, long time while simultaneously trying to contain the spread of Covid-19. And people will continue to die all around the world. This a horrifying prospect.

Already, trust is now at its most fragile. The dimensions of this tragedy mean the goodwill is sorely tested between individuals, communities, institutions and countries. Yet, if we are to survive in this strange world, let alone thrive, we will all need to find new and better ways to cooperate with each other and to share our resources and innovations. This is the challenge . . .


  • (1) https://www.sciencenews.org/article/new-coronavirus-vaccine-development-process-accelerating
  • (2) https://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/vaccine-development-testing-and-regulation

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