Lessons from the Covid Predicament

So what are we learning from this shutdown/lockdown/pandemic crisis?

Just-In-Time and globalised supply chains minimise holding costs, but introduce systemic fragility that inevitably invites cascading failures

In a crisis, brittleness/fragility is an overridingly more important hazard than anything else. Supply buffers, along with their attendant holding costs, give a system resilience against shocks. Anybody who gave it just a little bit of thought already knew this before Covid came along, but tended to discount it as, “Probablility too low to worry about.GONG! You do not win the lounge-suite.

As the Climate Crisis continues to unfold, the ever-greater stresses it will place on human social, economic and logistic chains must manifest as ever-more-frequent shocks to the system — shocks as great or greater than the Covid disruption. Our life support systems are based on a past history that has been mostly stable, and where change has come in smooth, continuous curves. This has been a quiet, interglacial period for the past 500-odd years, and now it’s over.

The future will be choppy, chaotic and discontinuous. This is why there can be no New Normal.

Existential threats trump insurance

Sometimes you can insure against the day disaster strikes. But now and again there’s something so catastrophic, so big, so existentially threatening, that conventional cost-benefit/risk-reward analyses no longer apply. The only question becomes: Can we continue to exist or do we die?

Existential hazards render normal risk-reward and cost-benefit analyses useless, dangerous, even life-threatening.

Reality matters

World leaders bullshitted us into a disastrous war in Iraq based on their lies about WMDs. They’ve been bullshitting their way through the Climate Crisis all the while muttering a prayer

Not In My Term Of Office. Please, God, Not In My Term Of Office!

Even at this late stage in Act I of the Covid pandemic (and we really are still in the early stages of its unfolding), they still think they can bullshit their way through the current crisis. Sadly for their analysis, SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t give a fuck about spin, pays no attention to narrative and cares nothing for optics. It just is. The cracks in their logic are growing and reality is nosing its way into the light. The peasants are taking notes and revising the engineering diagrams for guillotines.