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What Will the Future Bring? Here’s How to Survive the Uncertainty

What Will the Future Bring? Here’s How to Survive the Uncertainty

We live in a very different world than we did back in January when the calendar turned to 2020 and everyone was anticipating the great things they’d accomplish in the brand new decade.

Only 3 months ago, we all had futures we imagined…

  • Kids graduating from high school or college
  • A vacation we were planning
  • A new job we were striving toward
  • Retirement so close you could practically smell the beach where you’d spend your golden years
  • The health and fitness goal you were finally going to achieve
  • A positive lifestyle change you were planning to make
  • A relocation to a new destination
  • The advancement of your relationship, whether it was a new one or one you’d been in for a while
  • A summer road trip
  • Getting a new pet
  • An empty nest and what you were going to do with that newly vacant bedroom
  • A new family member

Three months ago, we all had dreams, goals for the future, or at least some idea of what the upcoming year would hold for us.

I’ll bet none of us even considered on New Year’s Eve that we’d spend the first half (at least) of the year dealing with a deadly pandemic. Heck, I sat on a balcony in a little seaside village in Montenegro, toasting the new decade with a friend and some Jack Daniels, watching fireworks over the Adriatic Sea, and planning what European destination I’d be heading to next.

It probably never crossed anyone’s mind that there’d be some crazy new virus that nobody had ever heard of which would leave us under the equivalent of house arrest for months. Few of us imagined that suddenly, over the course of just a few weeks, more than ten million Americans would suddenly become unemployed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Coronavirus Spells the End of the Neoliberal Era. What’s Next?

Coronavirus Spells the End of the Neoliberal Era. What’s Next?

Coronavirus is a political crucible, melting down and reshaping current norms. Will the new era be a “Fortress Earth” or a harbinger of a transformed society based on a new set of values?

Think Bigger

Whatever you might be thinking about the long-term impacts of the coronavirus epidemic, you’re probably not thinking big enough.

Our lives have already been reshaped so dramatically in the past few weeks that it’s difficult to see beyond the next news cycle. We’re bracing for the recession we all know is here, wondering how long the lockdown will last, and praying that our loved ones will all make it through alive.

But, in the same way that Covid-19 is spreading at an exponential rate, we also need to think exponentially about its long-term impact on our culture and society. A year or two from now, the virus itself will likely have become a manageable part of our lives—effective treatments will have emerged; a vaccine will be available. But the impact of coronavirus on our global civilization will only just be unfolding. The massive disruptions we’re already seeing in our lives are just the first heralds of a historic transformation in political and societal norms.

If Covid-19 were spreading across a stable and resilient world, its impact could be abrupt but contained. Leaders would consult together; economies disrupted temporarily; people would make do for a while with changed circumstances—and then, after the shock, look forward to getting back to normal. That’s not, however, the world in which we live. Instead, this coronavirus is revealing the structural faults of a system that have been papered over for decades as they’ve been steadily worsening. Gaping economic inequalities, rampant ecological destruction, and pervasive political corruption are all results of unbalanced systems relying on each other to remain precariously poised. Now, as one system destabilizes, expect others to tumble down in tandem in a cascade known by researchers as “synchronous failure.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

After the crisis, what kind of world do we want? Post-apocalyptic novels hold lessons — and warnings

After the crisis, what kind of world do we want? Post-apocalyptic novels hold lessons — and warnings

‘Art gives me hope. Will we take those values, that hope, and use them to imagine a better collective future?’

Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee in the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road.(Dimension Films)

I had planned to write a totally different column this month. I had the idea, the books. I’d started doing the research. Due to COVID-19 forcing me and so many others to stay at home and inside, I had the time.

But, also due to COVID-19, I didn’t have the inclination to continue doing any of it. For over a week now I’ve felt paralyzed, as though I’ve been watching my friends and family members move through a slow motion horror movie. I imagine a lot of people have felt that way over the past few days, weeks and/or months, depending on how deep into this global pandemic they are. With each passing day it has become clearer that life as we’d once known it is ending before our very eyes. Each day I’ve scrolled mindlessly through social media, waiting for the latest news story that might give some sort of discernible shape to our increasingly uncertain collective future.

There have been daily news conferences and updates. There has been emergency legislation introduced and passed. There have been restrictions on how many people can gather in one place, which businesses are allowed to remain open, and how they must operate if they do. It’s suggested that everyone stay in their homes, provided they have homes; that if you do have to go outside, you remain a certain distance away from others.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In Major Reversal, Singapore Imposes Month-Long Lockdown As Asia Faces “Second Wave” Of COVID-19: Live Updates

In Major Reversal, Singapore Imposes Month-Long Lockdown As Asia Faces “Second Wave” Of COVID-19: Live Updates

As we arrive at the end of another week, In NYC, subway trains are still crowded with commuters as the MTA is forced to reduce trains and cars as more of its workforce falls ill or simply refuses to show up. As the number of hospitalized patients surges, the city’s hospital system has already run out of ICU beds, forcing Gov. Cuomo to move coronavirus patients to the Javits Center, which was initially intended for hospital overflow patients. Amid all of this, the state’s unemployment fund is in worrisome shape, meaning New Yorkers will soon need to depend solely on federal benefits if the state well runs dry.

After the global number of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 1 million on Thursday, several Asian territories and countries, including Singapore and Hong Kong, are struggling with a second wave of COVID-19 cases that health officials claim is mostly travel-related. As we reported a few days back, China has reimposed lockdowns as begins to disclose “asymptomatic” cases that government functionaries explained were left out of China’s initial case totals.

One month ago, on March 3, there were 92,000 coronavirus cases, most of them in mainland China. As of Friday, the US and Europe account for the bulk of the world’s more than 1 million confirmed cases.

Professor Gabriel Leung, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, warned on Friday that the pandemic would likely last a few more months, even if heavy-handed prevention strategies are adopted. He also said the warmer weather would give the world no respite from the virus: “Is warmer weather going to give us some respite?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Could the Covid19 Response be More Deadly than the Virus?

Could the Covid19 Response be More Deadly than the Virus?

The economic, social and public health consequences of these measures could claim millions of victims

The initial, alarming estimates of deaths from the virus COVID-19 were that as many as 2.2 million people would die in the United States. This number is comparable to the annual US death rate of around 3 million. Fortunately, correction of some simple errors in overestimation has begun to dramatically reduce the virus mortality claims. 

The most recent estimate from “the leading US authority on the COVID-19 pandemic” suggests that the US may see between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, with the final tally likely to be somewhere in the middle.” This means that we are expecting around 150,000 US deaths caused by the virus, if the latest estimates hold up.

How does that compare to the effects of the measures taken in response? By all accounts, the impact of the response will be great, far-reaching, and long-lasting. 

To better assess the difference we might ask, how many people will die as a result of the response to COVID-19? Although a comprehensive analysis is needed from those experienced with modeling mortality rates, we can begin to estimate by examining existing research and comparative statistics. Let’s start by looking at three critical areas of impact: suicide and drug abuse, lack of medical treatment or coverage, and poverty and food access.

SUICIDES AND DRUG ABUSE

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 48,000 suicides occurred in the US in 2018. This equates to an annual rate of about 14 suicides per 100,000 people. As expected, suicides increase substantially during times of economic depression. For example, as a result of the 2008 recession there was an approximate 25% increase. Similarly, during a peak year of the Great Depression, in 1932, the rate rose to 17 suicides per 100,000 people.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It’s Only a Matter of Time Until COVID-19 Lockdowns Lead to Civil Unrest and Violent Crime

It’s Only a Matter of Time Until COVID-19 Lockdowns Lead to Civil Unrest and Violent Crime

(March 31, 2020)  The United States of America is basically closed for business, leaving citizens jobless, broke, and without options. We’re facing restrictions on movement the likes of which our nation has never seen. The stores that are open have never fully restocked after the “panic buying” of previous weeks, leading to shelves barren of things like meat, flour, toilet paper, and rice.

It’s only a matter of time before these issues combine to become the flashpoint that leads to an explosion of civil unrest and violent crime.

The financial situation

Unemployment skyrocketed, with 3.3 million claims last week, and the Fed estimates that number to climb to a whopping 47 million due to the virus. Many of these jobs may not come back after the Covid-19 virus has run its course through the nation – businesses small and large are going to be defaulting on their April rent payments, and many simply won’t be able to catch up later.

So far, a lot of people in the area where I’m staying seem to be treating this break of business like a surprise staycation. It’s nice to see families out walking together, playing games, and spending time with the people they love.

But this happiness may be shortlived. Despite generous government-mandated disaster pay, unemployment, and stimulus checks, the money may not arrive in time for former employees, self-employed people, and gig workers to pay their personal bills. And when the money does arrive, for many folks it isn’t going to be the same amount they were earning before the shutdowns. Most people don’t have emergency funds, so things will be dire in short order.

Of course, this affects landlord, mortgage companies, utility companies, retail businesses…the list could go on and on.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Supplies Are Starting To Get Really Tight Nationwide As Food Distribution Systems Break Down

Supplies Are Starting To Get Really Tight Nationwide As Food Distribution Systems Break Down

All across America, store shelves are emptying and people are becoming increasingly frustrated because they can’t get their hands on needed supplies.  Most Americans are blaming “hoarders” for the current mess, but it is actually much more complicated than that.  Normally, Americans get a lot of their food from restaurants.  In fact, during normal times 36 percent of all Americans eat at a fast food restaurant on any given day.  But now that approximately 75 percent of the U.S. is under some sort of a “shelter-in-place” order and most of our restaurants have shut down, things have completely changed.  Suddenly our grocery stores are being flooded with unexpected traffic, and many people are buying far more than usual in anticipation of a long pandemic.  Unfortunately, our food distribution systems were not designed to handle this sort of a surge, and things are really starting to get crazy out there.

I would like to share with you an excerpt from an email that I was sent recently.  It describes the chaos that grocery stores in Utah and Idaho have been experiencing…

When this virus became a problem that we as a nation could see as an imminent threat, Utah, because of its culture of food storage and preparing for disaster events seemed to “get the memo” first. The week of March 8th grocery sales more than doubled in Utah, up 218%. Many states stayed the same with increases in some. Idaho seemed to “get the memo” about four days later. We were out of water and TP four days after Utah. Then we were out of food staples about four days later. Next was produce following a pattern set by Utah four days earlier.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“This Could Turn Violent” – Italian Officials Fear South Turning Into A Powder Keg

“This Could Turn Violent” – Italian Officials Fear South Turning Into A Powder Keg

Signs of social unrest in major Western cities could be developing over the next few weeks, and as we previously warned last Friday, a global depression with high unemployment could unleash a “social bomb” in European countries and or North America. 

At the moment, Italy is the most high-risk country in the West to experience a potential breakdown in society. The country is suffering from an explosion in COVID-19 cases and deaths, a collapsed hospital system, an economic depression, and high unemployment. Sounds a lot like Venezuela… 

Italy has called up the military in recent weeks to enforce lockdowns across the country. There have also been reports of organized gangs operating in the Southern part of the country that are using social media to plot raids on businesses, reported Bloomberg.

It’s a race against time for Italian officials to prevent social unrest: 

“We need to act fast, more than fast,” Mayor Leoluca Orlando of Palermo, a city of Southern Italy, told daily La Stampa. “Distress could turn into violence.”

Lockdowns in the country have entered the fourth week, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement on Monday recommending that the government must extend the countrywide lockdown through Easter. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has been injecting stimulus into the economy to prevent a complete economic crash, and the next round could hit as early as mid-April, worth $33 billion.

Italy is the epicenter of COVID-19 in Europe. As of Monday afternoon, 101,739 confirmed cases had been reported, with 11,591 deaths. The growth rates in deaths in Northern Italy is still on an exponential curve. 

“Discomfort and malaise are growing, and we are recording worrying reports of protest and anger that is being exploited by criminals who want to destabilize the system,” said Orlando.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nafeez Ahmed on Synchronous Failure and Post-Pandemic Systems Change

Nafeez Ahmed on Synchronous Failure and Post-Pandemic Systems Change

As the pandemic grows, governments and communities are not only struggling to minimize loss of life and protect our fragile healthcare and economic systems, they are wrestling with questions about how we can recover when this storm eventually passes.

But how many people are thinking about the larger context of this crisis? How many recognize that this pandemic—or some other shock to our interconnected and brittle global systems—could trigger a massive “phase change,” and utterly remake the world as we know it?

I spoke with investigative journalist and systems thinker Nafeez Ahmed about these critical questions.

Nafeez and I discuss frameworks for understanding how the pandemic relates to the larger, systemic environmental, energy, economic, and political challenges we face—including Thomas Homer-Dixon’s concept of “Synchronous Failure,” Joseph Tainter’s “Collapse of Complex Societies,” C.S. Holling’s “Adaptive Life Cycle,” and Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine.” But far from being an abstract, academic exploration, Nafeez and I explore the real-world implications of these forces at play, and provide a call-to-action when we re-enter a world that has been transformed by COVID-19.

Please give it a watch or if you’d rather give it a listen on your favorite podcasting app, we’ve also released the interview on Crazy Town. Oh, and share with your friends and loved ones if you find it worth a listen.

Don’t Look Now But The People Responsible For The World’s Food Supply Are Starting To Get Sick

Don’t Look Now But The People Responsible For The World’s Food Supply Are Starting To Get Sick

Sanderson Farms, a large poultry manufacturer and Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, have both reported their first couple of positive cases of coronavirus.

This raises the obvious question: what happens when people critical to the world’s food supply start to fall ill?

As of now, there has been no such disruption – but it is beginning to morph into a massive threat, Bloomberg notes, with workers in close quarters preparing and processing food globally. Aside from the obvious threat of food not making it to consumers, things like fruits may also wind up rotting in fields if there aren’t enough workers to pick and cultivate them. 

Al Stehly, who operates a farm-management business in California’s North San Diego County said: “If we can’t flatten the curve, then that is going to affect farmers and farm laborers — and then we have to make choices about which crops we harvest and which ones we don’t. We hope no one gets sick. But I would expect some of us are going to get the virus.”

And to clarify, it’s not the food itself that causes the threat of the virus. It’s the supply chain disruption that the virus can cause with workers.

Sanderson was lucky in the sense that their one worker only worked at a small table by themselves. But other infections in the industry, where workers are closer together, could wreak more havoc. At some beef plants, workers are “elbow to elbow” and despite the employees wearing protective gear, there still remains risk of contagion. 

Dave MacLennan, chief executive officer of Cargill Inc., the world’s largest agricultural commodities trader said: “One of our beef plants feeds 22 million people per day, so it’s vital that these plants stay open.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Pandemic Armchair Philosophy Blog, 03.26.2020

The Pandemic Armchair Philosophy Blog, 03.26.2020

It may sound paradoxical, but philosophers have proved useful in times of collapse and rebuilding. Some of the greatest works in philosophy–at least in terms of their longevity and influence–were written in and during such times.1 (More on this below.) Alfred North Whitehead, one of those philosophers writing in the early 20th century, put it this way:

Systems, scientific and philosophic, come and go. Each method of understanding is at length exhausted. In its prime each system is success: in its decay it is an obstructive nuisance. The transitions to new fruitfulness of understanding are achieved by recurrence to the utmost depths of intuition for the refreshment of imagination. In the end–though there is no end–what is being achieved, is width of view, issuing in greater opportunities. (Adventures in Ideas, 1933, pg. 159)

The creation of this “width of view”–thanks to our Homo sapiens hardware–is open to most of us. The paragraphs below were written in response to a colleague’s question about how the COVID-19 pandemic helps us better understand climate change and the many other ongoing, cascading, planet-sized crises. I offer them, in part, because I don’t know what else to do in this Moment (as opposed to this moment), and because I wrote them while sitting in a chair. More importantly, they issue mostly from my experiences and observations, not from a particular method of analysis or formal system of logic. And it is my hope that they will inspire others with Whitehead’s optimism that the work of the imagination can issue-in greater opportunities.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Are We Living Through “12 Monkeys”?

Are We Living Through “12 Monkeys”?

A brand new mini-documentary “We’re Living in 12 Monkeys” was released today by Truthstream Media that outlines the agenda that is unfolding from the coronavirus hysteria.

The full New World Order agenda of complete control over humanity is in play. Watch below:

As we watched we were reminded of an article written in 2018 by Abraham Riesman  who noted (at the time) that ’12 Monkeys’ was the apocalypse movie we need right now.

Critically,  Riseman had just completed an  addendum to his essay (excerpted below), tying it perfectly back to what the world is currently experiencing…

…the world has not yet collapsed

I just went to pick up some supplies from my local chain pharmacy outlet and people seemed to be going about their daily business much as they always do. 

The ambience stood in stark contrast to the reports I’d been reading all night about what the situation is likely to become in the near future. 

I felt like 12 Monkeys’ protagonist, James Cole – someone who has been in the future, after it all hit the fan, and is granted a brief, bittersweet opportunity to visit the world as it was before the fall.

Given what’s happening, we thought we should republish this essay, which I wrote a year and a half before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 12 Monkeys, a film that is less about surviving a plague than it is about making a meaningful life on the eve of a crisis – and stubbornly believing that there’s something on the other side worth preparing for.

*  *  *

“How can I save you?” says the protagonist, Bruce Willis’s James Cole, early on in the 1995 Terry Gilliam film.

“This already happened. I can’t save you. Nobody can.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Does Pandemic Change the Big Picture?

How Does Pandemic Change the Big Picture?

As of 2019, the Big Picture for humanity was approximately as follows. Homo sapiens (that’s us), a big-brained bipedal mammal, had spent the Pleistocene epoch (from 2.5 million years ago until 12,000 years ago) developing its ability to control fire, talk, paint pictures, play bone flutes, and make tools and clothes. Language dramatically enhanced our sociality and helped enable us to invade and inhabit every continent except Antarctica. During the Holocene epoch (the last 12,000 years), we started living in permanent settlements, developed agriculture, and built state societies with kings, slavery, economic inequality, full-time division of labor, money, religions, and armies. The Anthropocene epoch (more of a brief interlude, really) dawned only a couple of centuries ago as we humans started using fossil fuels, which empowered us dramatically to grow our population and per capita consumption rates, mechanize production and transport, and basically dominate the entire planet. The mechanization of agriculture, by making the landed peasantry redundant, led to mass urbanization and quickly pumped up the size of the middle class. However, the use of fossil fuels destabilized the global climate, while also vastly increasing existing problems like pollution, resource depletion, and the destruction of habitat for most wild creatures. In addition, over the past few decades we learned how to use debt to transfer consumption from the future to the present, based on the risky assumption that the economy will continue to grow forever, thereby enabling future generations to pay for the lifestyle we enjoy now.

In short, the Big Picture was one of ever-increasing power and peril. Suddenly it has changed. A pattern of furious economic growth, consistent over many decades since the dawn of the Anthropocene (with only occasional interruptions, primarily consisting of the Great Depression and two World Wars), has slammed precipitously into the wall of pandemic (un)preparedness. In an effort to limit mortality from the novel coronavirus, governments around the world have put their economies into a state of suspended animation, telling most workers to stay home and to avoid direct contact with others.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Food-Security Fears Spark Panic-Hoarding, Could Drive Inflation Sky-High

Food-Security Fears Spark Panic-Hoarding, Could Drive Inflation Sky-High

A senior economist from the United Nation’s (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told Reuters that food inflation could be imminent as people and governments panic hoard food and supplies amid the COVID-19 pandemic

“All you need is panic buying from big importers such as millers or governments to create a crisis,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at FAO. 

“It is not a supply issue, but it is a behavioral change over food security,” Abbassian said. “What if bulk buyers think they can’t get wheat or rice shipments in May or June? That is what could lead to a global food supply crisis.”

Consumers from Asia to Europe to the Americas have been panic hoarding food at supermarkets as governments enforce strict social distancing measures to flatten pandemic curves to slowdown infections. 

Grain futures are green on Monday morning, have caught a bid in the last several sessions, led by soybean, oats, and wheat. Investors are starting to pile into grains as the demand for food staples (especially bread, flour, pasta, and crackers) has been elevated. 

France’s grain industry has seen surging demand and struggles to find enough truck operators and staff to keep factories running as panic buying of flour and pasta has led to an increase in wheat exports. 

European countries have enforced strict measures at their boarders amid the virus crisis that is devastating Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the UK. This has led to food supply disruption across several European countries.

Inflationary pressures could be nearing for food prices as the stockpiling continues. Combine this with a crashing global economy and high unemployment, and maybe stagflation is ahead.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“It’s Getting Worse” – Hoarding Panic Forces Supermarkets To Impose Buying-Limits

“It’s Getting Worse” – Hoarding Panic Forces Supermarkets To Impose Buying-Limits

Panic hoarding food and supplies by British and American shoppers has surged in recent weeks, as social distancing policies enforced by their respected governments to flatten the curve to slowdown infections are leading to mass quarantines.

Consumers are stocking up on food and supplies, as they have no idea when the quarantines will end. They see the fast-spreading virus leading to increased cases and deaths, and this has triggered fear about a pandemic, leading many to stockpile nonperishables, wiping store shelves clean, prompting supermarkets and pharmacies in both countries to impose buying-limits on goods.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was no reason for consumers to stockpile supplies. It has become evident that rising cases and deaths in the UK has led to mass panic.

Retailers call for ‘responsible shopping’ to quell panic buying

A source at the country’s top supermarket told Reuters, “it’s getting worse.”

Sainsbury’s, the second-largest chain of supermarkets in the UK, had to place restrictions on certain products to keep store shelves stocked. Tesco, another major supermarket in the country, told customers this week that they could only purchase two packs of dried pasta, toilet paper, and milk.

Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, and Lidl have all placed some form of buying restrictions on certain products while struggling to keep store shelves stocked.

“We are currently facing unprecedented challenges and uncertainty dealing with COVID-19,” Morrisons chairman Andrew Higginson, and its CEO David Potts said.

The same panic has swept across the Atlantic into the US for about a month. Supermarkets and pharmacies from coast to coast have placed purchase restrictions on water, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, medicine, and masks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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