2020 – When The Great Disruption Began

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“The last global crisis didn’t change the world. But this one could”

William Davies

It was always going to come to this. Whether it was a pandemic triggering a shutdown, a climate emergency bursting the carbon bubble, a populist backlash against inequality, wars over water or countless other possible triggers, this moment has long been inevitable.

COVID-19 is just like a match thrown on a tinder dry forest floor on a hot windy day and starting a wildfire. The match isn’t the key – it’s where it lands.

While of course a pandemic would always be an enormous economic and health challenge, the context in which it lands is the key to our ability to manage it. Thus, we now see our economic system’s inherent instabilities clearly exposed. The house of cards is collapsing.

Won’t this all pass? We’ll find a cure, develop a vaccine, boost the economy and then everything will get back to normal. It’ll take a few years, but we’ll get back on track. Right?

Wrong, very wrong.

We are at the beginning of a process with an uncertain end. It could be a major recession, a full-scale depression, or a slide into systemic collapse. Or it could be a turning point – where we recover and build a very different kind of economy, one defined by sustainability and resilience with a focus on improving human well-being. This range of outcomes is uncertain. What is certain is that we are not going back to how things were.

Why?

We should always remember the true meaning of the word ‘unsustainable’. You can never be sure when, or how it will happen, but one thing you can be very sure of is this: when things are unsustainable….they will stop.

When I wrote my book “The Great Disruption” in 2011, I laid out this argument. At that time, I thought the climate crisis was the most predictable trigger point for a crisis that would drive system change. Basic physics showed that increasing emissions would, in the end, force an existential crisis. But like the match, the trigger is not the key. The book’s main focus was the broad global system and its inherent unsustainability – and why a major disruption was inevitable.

In summary the argument I made was this.

An economy and human society built on the concept of infinite compound economic growth was, by itself, obviously ultimately unsustainable. It’s like COVID-19 cases doubling several times a week – in a short time you go from a worrying number, to a collapsed health system and social chaos. On a longer timeframe, it’s the same with infinite economic growth.

On top of that, I argued there were a series of ‘system overload’ points built into our economy – points that when reached would inevitably trigger a system wide crisis.

These included:

  • the emissions causing climate change and with it, water shortages, conflict, extreme weather and food crises;
  • inequality causing political instability, polarisation and protectionism;
  • global poverty causing geopolitical instability, conflict and refugee crises;
  • the delusional idea that when things get tough you can just ‘print more money’ – making the house of cards taller, and more unstable.

Thus, we had built a system that, as a whole, behaved in a predictable way. There was always uncertainty what the trigger would be, but certainty that the moment would come. When things are unsustainable… they will stop.

Then comes The Great Disruption.

“Economic contagion is now spreading as fast as the disease itself”

Harvard Business Review – March 2020

Here we are in 2020. The house of cards is tumbling down and the inherent weaknesses of the system are being exposed – making the virus spread faster and the economic crash harder.

  • Inequality means the virus spreads faster because of the lack of access to services1;
  • Our reliance on centralised fossil fuel supplies, especially oil, exacerbates financial system risks and geopolitical instability as the economy declines2;
  • Huge levels of debt, incurred to keep the system afloat, put huge risks into the global financial markets, that the virus’s economic impacts could now tip over the edge3;
  • Neo-liberalism’s4 success in reducing both the resources and the authority of the state, leaves many countries ill equipped to manage such a rapidly moving crisis, thereby magnifying the economic crash.

Meanwhile governments vacillate between impossible choices – crash the economy and risk a global depression or crash the health system and kill millions, risking social chaos.

The dreadful thing about the coronavirus is that it is all happening so quickly. This leaves little capacity to reflect on the system wide lessons and how we can avoid spiralling into an ongoing crisis, or worse.

However, like any crisis and deep instability, we owe it to ourselves to understand, and act on, the lessons being learnt. As William Davies5 argued “To experience a crisis is to inhabit a world that is temporarily up for grabs.”

We can no longer prevent the COVID-19 crisis. We can only manage it aggressively to reduce suffering, loss of life and economic impact. However, we can still learn the lessons being thrust in our faces and drive the change needed to prevent future crises. Climate change is still coming at us hard and fast. We can reduce the inequality which will make future crises worse and harder to manage. We can recognise the benefit of our actions and economy being guided by science and expertise rather than ideology. And we can recognise that market economics is a useful tool, but not an ideology nor a way to run our lives – and therefore strong and competent government is central to human progress.

I now find myself with time – thankfully isolated with my family on our farm in rural Tasmania, Australia. So, I will be putting my mind to reflections on these questions and sharing them with you here – in the Cockatoo (Corona) Chronicles.

The future is still ours to make. We can respond to this pandemic by acting to prevent future crises from overwhelming us. We have tinder dry fuel across the whole global system. If we don’t act to reduce it, a fire like this one could one day sweep away all before it.

There will be no vaccine for a global disruption triggered by climate change, inequality or ecosystem degradation. It’s time to pay attention. The Great Disruption is underway.


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  1. For Covid-19, inequality and poverty in both developed and developing economies is hindering access to health services, social services and effective sanitation. The ability to social distance is also compromised due to population density and the need to work. As has also been the trend with previous pandemics, these populations become some of the worst impacted by morbidity and mortality.
  2. For example: In March this year the price of oil (WTI) fell towards $20 per barrel vs the average oil price for 2019 of around $57 pb. Most US shale oil producers budgeted for prices at $55-65 pb for 2020, meaning shutdowns are inevitable for many heavily indebted firms. As was argued in Forbes, “A six-month spell of ultra-low prices could devalue a big chunk of the $1.9 trillion in energy sector debt, including about $300 billion in bank loans (by comparison, the value of the subprime mortgages held by Americans in 2007 was $1.3 billion). In addition, as the Saudi-Russian price war continues to drive prices down, international tensions are emerging with US senators accusing Saudi Arabia of economic warfare, threatening to enact antitrust authority and withdraw US support for the war in Yemen.
  3. While it’s still too early to tell how different economies will respond to the fallout from Covid-19, as described by the Harvard Business Review we do know that “Economic contagion is now spreading as fast as the disease itself”. They point out that the experience of the 2008 financial crisis shows different economies will have varying success in managing risk. As Ruchir Sharma, from Morgan Stanley recently argued in the NYT, what is different from the GFC is that “the largest and most risky pools of debt have shifted – from households and banks in the United States, which were restrained by regulators after the crisis, to corporations all over the world (~$16 trillion)”. This poses a whole new system wide risk. He points out that the level of debt in America’s corporate sector amounts to 75 percent of GDP, breaking the previous record set in 2008. These debt burdens are precariously high in the auto, hospitality and transportation sectors — industries taking a direct hit from the coronavirus. Consider this on top of the arguments above about the US shale oil industry’s debt.
  4. Neoliberalism is when the control of economic factors shifts towards the private sector (free market capitalism), away from government spending, regulation and public ownership. It reduces the ability of the government to control essential services (especially in times of crisis), enhances corporate influence on State matters and drives a shift away from State welfare provision.
  5. William Davies is a sociologist and political economist, this quote appeared in his March 24 article in The Guardian “The last global crisis didn’t change the world. But this one could.”

65 thoughts on “2020 – When The Great Disruption Began

  1. When covid-19 is not the immediate threat, reconstruction / recovery will begin. If such a new economy was based on building sustainability everywhere, there would be jobs for all. And Australia would be better prepared for the next pandemic (they are not new) and climate change (we don’t know when). Growing food without fossil fuel input is an obvious candidate for the new economy.

  2. Joseph Woodhouse

    Greetings Paul, We met in Iowa at a climate change conference in Iowa City. That was many years ago and I have spent the time since, studying everything that I can find on the human predicament. At the heart of the problem is human awareness, its potential as well as its diseases. One could say that Covid-19 as well as the coming unprecedented global disruption, is complicated by another disease of human awareness that prevents us from using our ability to see the big picture and to use this awareness as motivation to heal our damaged planet. We need to study the likes of Donald Trump and his Republican anti-science supporters to reveal the catastrophic way in which human awareness can be distorted. Instead of being an instrument of adaptation, it becomes a self-centered point of greed and destruction. We must see this, understand it and develop a “vaccine”…

  3. Sam Moore, PhD

    I met you many years ago at a program given by the Sustainable Enterprise Academy, with Dr. Stuart Hart. I have taught your books at several universities in the Southeast and continue to value your insights. Be safe. Hug your children and continue to share your ideas. Sam Moore, PhD. Now a farmer in North Carolina, USA.

  4. Joan Halgren

    Paul, I thought of you and your prophetic book this week as we all face the swirl of the virus. Indeed, I hope humans can grasp your notion of a ‘stable state’ economy and that the masses will unite to finally restructure our institutions to meet the needs of the 21 century. Ideology must be set aside, as you well know, and scientific knowledge applied so Earth can remain resilient for all sentient beings! I think COVID-19 may, hopefully, set the tone for what work needs to be done to avoid further calamities or at least mitigate them.

  5. Niels Christensen

    Thanks for the simple truth. The simple answer is that we need world leadership. Relying on our individual, national leaders … well here in New Zealand we are quite pleased. If either Pope Benedict XVI and /or Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the former with a following of a billion and the latter having a voice to all nations, would at least make an effort maybe we could start hearing one true voice. And I am an atheist and a socialist! I have nothing in this game except the dream of a better future for all of us.

    NIELS cHRISTENSEN

  6. Anna Harper

    I went to the Book Launch here in Sydney at Lend Lease. I refer to it frequently and oh wow I wish more had listened. We will come through this, if we all choose to live differently, respecting mother earth, sustainable ways of living and respecting all sentient beings. Lucky you Neils! I cannot get back to NZ …so will do so as soon as borders reopen.!

  7. Alberto Miguel

    Hi Paul, it is always nice to receive some of your thoughts once and a while. I just want to remind all that according to Plato, tyranny comes after democracy. Men and society become morally weak, greed increases exponentially, social unrest follows and then a “saviour” appears to become the tyrant. And because we cannot maintain the empires (as Harari exposes in Homo Sapiens) without the abstract organizations, people will comply with tyranny. I hope not.

  8. I’ve been reading an estimate of the possible range of costs of the COVID-19 disruption,
    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/trumped-pandemic-to-cost-america-5-trillion-or-more/?mc_cid=aa1ba316c7&mc_eid=c56bd5c3d0

    This estimate is between $3 and $7 trillion, and lasting for several years. It suggests that the US economy might never recover in the form in which it currently exists. The greatest concern is that the stimulus/survival package is nowhere near large enough to avoid serious social disruption.

    At the same time, more and more alarm is being expressed among Democrats and even Republicans that the President has ‘lost the plot’. He’s spending less time governing, (seen as a good thing) and more time engaged in infantile ranting against state governors, the press, Mitch McConnell, and anyone else who isn’t prepared to bow and scrape before his spiralling insanity. Gun shops, closed in the general shut down, are now being re-opened, as Americans arm themselves against the apocalypse. One can only hope that reason will prevail, and someone in the Whitehouse forces the madman to step down before the country falls down.

    Only the boldest most radical transformation is able to rescue this potential failed state from its death spiral.

    What if the ridiculous debt was simply ‘forgiven’ ( or forgotten, if you prefer the metaphor) Economic value, in terms of the over-blown capitalist/consumerist economy is being destroyed. Let it die. What is gold worth really? It has no more real value than stocks, bonds, or tulip bulbs in a collapsed market. But in any market, air, food, water, soil, shelter, and human goodwill and cooperation- the elements of any social ecosystem retain their real value – because we can’t live without them.

    We need to re-create a new economy, retaining those things which have real ecological and social value. By changing our accounting of value, we can concentrate on building a sustainable economy without the absurd resource consuming inequalities which have overwhelmed the natural renewable resources of the ecosystem.

    If we just change our mindset, we can re-imagine our society in the same way that nature builds an ecosystem – natural energy from the sun, absorbed by plants and shared among animals, fungi and bacteria, so that everything is recycled and nothing is allowed to accumulate in waste dumps or millionaires’ bank accounts, so that we have some people with too much and only have enough for the poor if we take twice or three time as much as we need.

    • JohnSaintSmith, in regard to your thoughts on money and debt, Economist Philip Lawn
      Senior Lecturer – Flinders University, believes that money is merely a method of directing people and resources. As it can be printed at will, there is no problem in using it and chalking up debt never to be repaid.
      So, we can keep people employed by printing money and get them to address important things like climate change.

      • Yes, Michael, I’m quite familiar with that theory, except that I’ve never been able to convince a single bank manager to give me $500,000 to build a house and not expect me to repay the money. At that scale, the dollars must be paid – it’s the rules of the game for ordinary folk like you and me. Yet, like the disjunction between quantum mechanics and relativity, there are two mutually contradictory theories attempting to describe the universe.

        Big wheelers like Donald Trump swing through life losing $billions, and then use the ‘rigged’ tax laws that he claims to hate, to slip through the noose – again and again, then pop up totally renewed, using credit from someone else, and losing that as well. Do you really suppose the world can continue to play this game of self-deception for ever? It certainly looks like it. But it ain’t necessarily so.

        The global credit bubble is rather like the capitalist myth that you can have infinite growth on a finite planet. When it comes to ecological accounting, it is impossible – pushed hard enough, ecosystems break down. Only in the fantasy land of conventional economics, which, as you know, doesn’t even recognize the actual environmental costs of pollution and resource depletion, let alone ‘pay full price’ for environmental restoration and recycling of materials, is it possible to cheat reality, for a while.

        The reckoning is coming to a planet near you.

        So, in contrast, I say the ‘capital wealth’ of the stock markets is just ‘fake money’ – a fantasy of artificial value endlessly chasing its tail and forcing the vast majority of people into penury in order to sustain the toxic levels of wealth of the 1%. So why should we continue to allow this pernicious myth to keep ruining the biosphere which has sustained life for 4 billion years? Get real, do real economics with things that matter clean air, water, soil and sunlight – nothing else has any real value.

      • Joan Halgren

        Your assessment is thorough and truthful–it’s time for a new economy, based on what really matters. Thanks so much JOHNSAINTSMITH for your astute insight–hopefully us weak humans can finally get things right:).

      • Ron Horgan

        John and Joan, I have some positive ideas developed over several years for changing how we do things. Ron

  9. Dear Paul,

    your book The Great Disruption had a great impact on me, as it spoke to my understanding of what we are doing on this planet. I would like to know what individuals can do beyond the obvious to shift our priorities. My experience is, that people need to adapt through triggers, learning curves and necessity. How can communication help? Right now is the perfect moment to work on this. As you say, the public is listening to scientists. Thanks for your work!

  10. Jonathan Evelegh

    As I recall, and it’s been a few years since I read The Great Disruption so please forgive me if I misrepresent your point, this whole projected climate crisis might have been solved by the governments of the world going on a wartime basis to tackle it and you suggested that might be a winning strategy. That is not what appears to be happening. Some governments have reacted in a sensible manner, but many are flailing around like lost babes even though they had warnings and something of a head start.

    Yes, I’m talking about the US and the UK and maybe a few others, but those two will do. It is beyond my comprehension how those governments will survive if the projected death rates are even close to what was in the news today. Up to 240,000 in the US! Either the number is grossly inflated so some lower number is considered acceptable or the country will be torn apart. How does any legitimate political system or leader allow that to happen on their watch?

    Not to get deeply into the statistics, but China with a population very approximately four times the number of the US had only, again approximately, 3,000 deaths – and the US has already surpassed that. This is not explainable by some 10 or 15 percent fudging of the numbers or differing methods of reporting deaths. This is a fundamental failure of staggering proportions.

    So, what will replace the current governmental system of the federal US? How long will it take and what will the costs be to reorganize on a sustainable and regional basis? Civil war? Or will it just fall apart like the USSR? Not a great role model. Will any progress be made in the meantime on any environmental issues?

    Or will it not be replaced and we’ll continue staggering along like a mad drunk yelling at the world and panhandling corporate leaders who will do whatever to make their quarterly numbers?

    Of course, the US is not the world as we are all too often reminded. China may well plough ahead with some kind of carbon-reducing reforms. Russia? C’mon, what do you really think? The rest of the world? In its newly impoverished state? The cheapest energy possible will probably be the name of the game. The governments will be neither strong nor wealthy enough to subsidize alternative energies or mandate their adoption.

    Certainly, if the hype about the costs of of solar, etc. turns out not to be hype, we have a chance of turning things around. If we all really tighten our energy belts, maybe. But, in the meantime, there’s a lot of easy-to-pump oil and not-hard-to-find coal and sufficiently corrupt and short sighted governments – did I mention money-hungry corporations? – that it’s difficult to see this pandemic as anything other than an unmitigated disaster as far as climate improvement is concerned.

    Well, that is, unless several billions die and the shut downs and quarantines and economic contractions go on and on and on and on and . . .

    I wish it were otherwise, but unrealistic optimism is, to a degree, what got us in these several messes. It’s been said more than once in various ways that you don’t solve a problem by using the thinking that got you into it the first place.

    People power? Quaint, I think although perhaps our best shot.

    Lastly, talking of which, all this wartime strutting and military metaphor is not the way to get Gaia to give us some love. If we don’t truly and deeply love this Earth, we’re not worthy of living here.

    • Joan Halgren

      Jonathan, you speak truth to power. Now our only hope is that people will finally unite and realize we need to share on this planet or die!

  11. Elliot Hoffman

    The pitiful state of leadership – globally and especially in the U.S. (I’m a Californian) – is a core problem. There are no (OK – perhaps a couple) business leaders – now an oxymoron; America’s corporate CEOs are chained to maximizing short term profits for a few at ALL costs. There are few political leaders (zero in the Republican controlled Senate) and zero in the White House, cabinet, etc. Where are the voices of real leaders? Where are the voices shouting to get trump removed immediately, Pence out next, let Nancy P. govern until November’s election. Where are the true leaders – those with an underlying foundation of morality, ethics, empathy and compassion – those who are servant leaders, stewards for all people and our common home, the earth.

    I see only one possibility and would love your thoughts. The only leaders capable of speaking for humanity at this time in history are faith and spiritual leaders. Imagine: Pope Francis, The Dalia Lama, Sunni and Shiite clerics, the world’s most senior Rabbis, Hindu, Christians and others – all together representing 6-7 billion people around the world. Imagine their call for friendship across all religions; imagine their call for urgent action on our climate emergency – imagine a long term campaign to bring their call to climate action into homes, families, businesses, schools, universities, churches, synagogues, mosques in 1000s of communities around the world. Imagine that. Please send your thoughts and maybe, just maybe……

    • Sam Moore, PhD

      The challenge may be that the required integrated vision and mission, and the required skill sets for govt management and spiritual leadership are mutually exclusive. I doubt the Pope has the skills to lead the next economic revolution and as we have seen in so many incidences, the separation of church and state seems to be important. There will be a call for friendship across all religions, has been for centuries, but who will answer the call. As Frodo said, ” I will carry this burden, but I do not know the way.”

    • Jonathan Evelegh

      No, no, no! Please keep all this religious or spiritual belief out of the communal systems. Let them speak to their own followers, say whatever mumbo jumbo they please – but stay out of the real world. Whenever religions have power they make things worse. Read your history. We need intelligence at work.

      • Joan Halgren

        Jonathan, I agree with you. Religions, fictitious, tend to divide people–fighting wars over who has the best religion. So it’s best to support humanist thoughts: help meeting one’s basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, and inclusivity about who participates–leveling of the playing field for the common good!

      • Jonathan Evelegh

        Actual, Joan, with respect, humanism is not the answer because it elevates humans above all other life forms. What we need is a belief system that genuinely holds all life forms as equally valuable and holds the relationship between them to be as important as anything else. A lot of lip service is paid to that these days, but it’s not working against the inhumanity of the Machine and its worshipping of the Economy as the be-all and end-all – aided and abetted by almost every religion on Earth whatever fine words they preach.

      • Joan Halgren

        Agree again! One may say pantheism describes a better way, whereby all is considered sacred and to be protected from harm’s way.

        Most find it hard to be objective when it seems easier to fall back onto fantasy instead. As was said on Downton Abbey: “Hope is a tease designed to prevent us from accepting reality.” That’s where much of humanity rests today!

    • Ron Horgan

      Belief based on the significance of humans being a thinking part of the universe may be an umbrella under which many people will find emotional comfort.
      This is a factual belief without a theology or drive to recruit others.
      It is an individual choice to think this way and it chimes with our evolved human nature.
      Best Wishes Ron

  12. Dennis Macray

    Thank you, Paul, for coming back on-line and reminding us that we shouldn’t be surprised! Your book has provided a guide and prompt for a new economy. But for those of us trying to build sustainable and regenerative systems, it feels like we are watching a massive train wreck unfold as we look up and down the tracks for kindred souls and logical innovations to help the planet and people survive. I am looking forward to this dialog with you and your readers!

  13. Chris

    Also, don’t forget that if humans were not eating animals, this virus likely never would have happened.

    • Jonathan Evelegh

      Remember that goes two ways. Animals eat humans as well. Some think the planet is a machine for the making of meat. Apologies to Henri Bergson.

      And, before I forget, humans are animals. In essence we are no different from any other living being. Life is unity.

      • Joan Halgren

        Indeed, Jonathan, we humans are animals but we’re supposed to be the smartest of them all. But, alas, apparently that’s not the case. My 14-week-old puppy does very well!

    • Joan Halgren

      Okay. Now that many have responded, what is our best course of action to save sentient beings and Earth: duh, that’s the official name of where we live in our solar system! So what’s our best course of action? Please vote:

      a) hope for a miracle
      b) ask our parents
      c) do nothing
      d) help organize a new order
      e) none of the above
      f) (your idea explained herein)
      g) give up and see what happens

      I await comments/vote tally to follow!

      Let’s give ourselves through this Friday!

      • Jonathan Evelegh

        Live clean and dream right is my suggestion. Always go with the positive vibrations.

      • Jonathan Evelegh

        And don’t forget to keep your mind fully engaged except for the times of no mind, which should be about half the time.

      • Jonathan Evelegh

        For near twenty years now I’ve found this little quote very helpful for sorting out complexities and getting through bad times.

        “The wonder of the world. The beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades, these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.”

        From a writer who went by the identity of BB back in the 1920s. If I was at my big computer I could tell you more, but I’m on my toy computer.

      • Ron Horgan

        Hi Joan, I have written an essay , 27,000 words which covers options d and f. Ron

      • Ron Horgan

        Joan, I am illiterate about this technology. Perhaps if Paul could read my essay and post it on his website it might be easily available Ron

  14. Julian Crawford

    Hi Paul, thanks as ever for your insights. I see you’re at your place in Tasmania. If you haven’t already read it then Truganini (sub-title ‘Journey through the apocalypse’) by Cassandra Pybus will be of considerable interest I think… Cheers Julian Crawford

  15. Ron Horgan

    Paul I read your book and agree that our current global economic system is a house of cards and its collapse is inevitable. The virus is the trigger for change.

    To understand the whole interlinked complex problem of our modern existence ,and to reference and justify each point , would take more time than I have. I have spent about 10 years trying to grasp this problem.
    Its the biggest problem there is.
    Our entire human organization is based on short term survival instincts so politics, economics, culture religion, behaviour at every level local, national and ,international forms one huge interlocking structure

    At first sight changing the massive structure looks impossible as it is all self reinforcing and successful; so successful that we now exceed the capacity of the biosphere and extinction looms ahead.

    The underlying problem is that the biological quality required for evolutionary survival is aggressive short term exploitation of the environment. Successful evolution of biological life contains the seeds of its own destruction by destroying the biosphere from which it evolved.
    This seems to be a universal problem as no other advanced civilizations are evident.

    Steven Hawking hoped that this very pessimistic conclusion was not true, but the iron jaws of the vice are closing on us and we must act to survive.

    It will require a new culture with new rules and laws and belief for long term survival.

    I have written an essay The Crossroads of Evolutionary Challenge : Belief for Survival in the Age of Uncertainty.

    This integrates the strengths of science and belief and is the only way I have found out of the lethal maze which surrounds us. To survive we must control our own evolution. Together we can overcome this ultimate frightening crisis.

    I will send a copy of this essay to all who ask for it.

    Best Wishes Ron Horgan

    • Jonathan Evelegh

      Ron, perhaps if you were to upload your essay as a PDF to Dropbox or any one of the many similar services, post a link, then we could download it and read it at our convenience. 27,000 words is not a trivial read in this day and age, certainly more than makes sense in this forum. And, I suggest, format it nicely so that it is not a cosmetic challenge to read. Plus, of course, remove typos, grammatical train wrecks, and inelegant sentences. If you want your ideas to be taken seriously, you must present them with certain minimum standards of professionalism. People get put off very easily these days. Another way to get your essay into the eyes of the public would be to post it on Medium (for example), after performing the editorial work I suggested.

      • Ron Horgan

        Hi Jonathan, I confessed to technological illiteracy ( incompetence) not illiteracy.

        Your fears that my essay would be a mess are unfounded.

        Thanks for the suggestion about Medium and Dropbox.I will find a way of posting it with a link .

        I believe that I have found a practicable way out of our existential dilemma. Massive project but possible.

      • Joan Halgren

        Ron, I do look forward to your essay! Best wishes from Red Wing, MN. Stay safe😊.

      • Ron Horgan

        Joan and John and other interested parties, I am unable to complete setting up a VPN and website to post my essay. here is my email address ronhorg9@outlook.com. If you contact me and ask for a copy of my essay I will send it to your email as an attachment. Best wishes Ron Horgan

      • Jonathan Evelegh

        You don’t need a VPN or website. Simply save your doc as a PDF, open an account with Dropbox or Mega.co.nz would be another service, but there are dozens to choose from, you’re looking for a file locker or sharing site, upload your file and post the resulting link for others to download. It may sound complicated but it’s really very simple. Thousands, if not millions, of people manage it everyday.

      • Ron Horgan

        Hi Jonathan,
        You are right that 27 000 words is not a trivial read in this day and age.
        I guess that any communication of more than a few minutes is too demanding.
        However to analyse the development of human nature, to understand the range of available responses to solve the present existential crisis, and to propose an outline strategy for our survival as a species, might take a little more than the attention span of many people?

        If you or any other readers are seriously interested in our human future , I will send you a copy as an email attachment. I don’t have the competence to upload to the several services you recommend.

        I have read a huge number of books and other sources to find the facts that I have collated and the quite new insights that this has revealed to me. My CV is appended to the report.

        All you have to do is send me an email,and reserve a quiet afternoon for a good read.
        As we are all enjoying “lockdown” this should not be too hard.

        What we do in this generation will change the future for all time.

        Your reward will be hope for the future that we can all make together, against the odds.

        Paul when you respond to this post you will find that my thinking and analysis are similar to your excellent work, but that I have gone further in identifying belief in a positive future as the necessary missing element when scientific solutions are proposed.

        We know what to do but lack the emotional drive to do it.

        Best Wishes Ron Horgan.

  16. William Knox

    Fascinating to read these high-powered thoughts from you guys, triggered by Paul’s observations and the catalyst of this portal.

    I figure that the wash-up from Covid19 is unpredictable across most parameters.

    However:

    Accidentally China started this but the need to discipline societies to survive this and future pandemics seems to favour Communist systems. They are a more coherent organism, despite their ruthlessness. The world will have lost trust in China, and move away from its dependency on cheap Chinese products, and the Belt and Road dream will be crippled in the short term, but China as a coherent organism will have a great advantage in the longer term during the recovery period. But can they get over their resentful grandiosity and do their part to build an intelligent, cooperative future world, respecting difference and freedom? I doubt it; they will likely see great opportunity in the chaos that looms elsewhere.

    Perhaps the inevitable economic disaster of Covid19 will give the earth a little respite in its pollution and warming problems.

    The disaster is playing out most terribly in the overcrowded cities; the consequence of what we recognise as relentless population growth, which as Paul contends is the main issue we need to deal with. It is beyond me to understand why there is not wider recognition of the population explosion as our chief enemy. All we hear is ‘growth, growth, growth’. It’s a shame Covid19 has to come to our aid in this way. Do we need to read our Malthus?

    An ABC program recently spoke of 3 planes a day out of Wuhan to northern Italy earlier in the year. Who are the idiots doing this? The same type of people who let all the passengers on the Ruby Princess off the boat?

    I too am a Tasmanian these days, happily settled on the outskirts of Wynyard, although presently I am hiding away on the NSW South Coast working remotely.

    One good thing about these disasters, it stops you being disrupted by pleasure, and you can get on with the thoughtful projects you’ve been prevaricating over.

    Trouble is, we thoughtful people don’t have any power.

    William Knox

  17. Nadia Mejjati

    The healing of humanity in terms of energetics is essential to this stage in human evolution. In order to build a loving world we must first love ourselves individually and as we do, we will naturally love and regenerate our earth. Cutting edge science is now demonstrating evolution by the ‘luminal cells’ of humans. Thus following the lead and science of The Heart Math Institute, IONS (The Noetic Science Institute), The Resonance Academy and other scientific institutions who are studying human consciousness, we have the evidnece for the importance of self-care and healthy mind set. (And now we all have time to do this!)

    What humanity believes it is capable of collectively is what it will do, thus the importance of healing and positive visioning.

    Anyone who feels (understandably) depressed about climate change can look to a plenitude of organisations moving forward towards a better life on earth for humans and the biosphere. For example Bioneers, Biomimicry, Permaculture, holistic management, ETC.

    The solutions are all present in our innate magnificent creativity. So let’s get on with it, follow not fear but love! (Sounds like a hippy idea but now said scientific institutions can demonstrate how this is actually true. For example the North South electromagnetic field of the earth vibrates at the same hertz frequency as the human heart- we ARE the earth!)

    Thanks for your writing Paul, with love and hope! Nadia

    • Joan Halgren

      Nadia, appreciate your wise ideas. Marianne Williamson ran for president of the U.S. putting ‘love’ as a central theme to resolve our societal problems to no avail–perhaps, the time wasn’t right but it is now! And Ms. Williamson continues to offer encouragement in this direction instead of fear and understands the health connection as well.

      May we all prosper by not giving up!

    • Jonathan Evelegh

      Yes, Marianne Williamson would be a better president instead of any of the current contenders – although I have a bit of a liking for Bernie Sanders.

  18. Gregory John Olsen

    Greetings Paul. Thanx for sharing your thoughts with us. :-)

    I only have one real point of dissonance with your writing, and that is your misguided understanding of the way modern money works. About three years ago, but I started to read about the fact that a sovereign government, that creates its sovereign currency, can never run out of money.

    Now, I have a much better understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) by reading and viewing the work and presentations of economics Professor Bill Mitchell, from the University of Newcastle, and Dr Steven Hail, from the University of Adelaide.

    May I encourage you, and your readers, to undertake an MMT self-education goal during this COVID-19 period so that, when Australia emerges from its grip, we are all well placed to understand the macroeconomic reality that will carry Australia to sustainable and equitable prosperity into the future.

    For a start, if I may, here’s Bill’s latest blog: http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=44613 and one of Steven’s MMT videos: https://youtu.be/CWDxH448qok

    Thanx. :-)

    • Craig

      Given that oil is the basis of our food chain, maintaining a functional electricity grid and for building any concept of a ‘renewable future’, what would we exchange in order to get it from those countries that supply it? I don’t think pretty coloured plastic will pass muster regardless as to whether its printed by Australia or the USA.

  19. Charles Eisenstein makes a number of good points and asks some radical questions in this longish piece, maybe even 27,000 words but I didn’t count. He moves the discussion beyond economics, politics or the mechanics of what we’re dealing with to the question of how to harness intention to effect genuine change in our communal lives, a question that is relevant both to climate change and this wretched virus. He presents a new and holistic view of events and possible outcomes. Disappointingly, I could find nothing, absolutely nothing, to quibble with.

    https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/the-coronation/

  20. Jorge Pontual

    Hi Paul I’m Jorge Pontual the Brazilian reporter who taped an interview with you in Times Square in 2012. I’d love to talk to you on Skype whenever you’re available. My e-mail is pontual@globotv.com
    Best Jorge

  21. Leif Knutsen

    I penned this 10/10/2013″ It is still cogent.
    Slavery” is alive and well right here in the USA. Please give me another word for a capitalistic system that pays a minimum wage lower than average living costs to millions of its citizens. About 80% are women. Is not poor access to food, health care, and housing torture in every sense of the word? How about a government that taxes me to provide profits to others directly working to destroy Earth’s Life Support Systems? The GOP does not fund abortion. Fine. A precedent. Why must progressives fund the ecocide of the planet via subsidies to the Fossil Barons? Corporations, “Corpro/People”, are people now. Why the special treatment? “We the People” will be fined for throwing a paper cup out the car window. ($1,000 in AK.) Yet Corpro/People dump 19 pounds of toxins out the exhaust of commerce and get rich! Privatized profits and socialized losses are a failed paradigm.
    This is “Slavery” in every sense of the word IMO. When one segment of society is in a life and death bondage to another and which prevents the escape of the first? What would you call it?

    This is an excellent and informative read. Well worth the effort.

    • Leif, I agree with your response. Indeed, slavery, but even worse since our collective behaviors will ultimately kill most of humanity. Scientists this week saying we may have 200 years left–I think even less. What needs to happen is a true uniting of peoples against those who are amoral as you outlined well. I am ready to begin!

      Kind regards!

  22. Leif Knutsen

    I keep forgetting that live links are a no-no. Google: How Slavery Sowed the Seeds of American Collaps by Umair Haque

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