The coronavirus has laid bare systemic racism, rampant inequality and environmental degradation. This virus has brought to light the inhumanity of economic disparity and it has revealed the insanity of our genocide against nature. It has unmasked incompetent leadership and exposed the glaring weaknesses of a system that myopically pursues short-term profits at the expense of the biosphere on which all life depends.
The coronavirus is the latest in a succession of warnings that also includes economic collapse. The first-quarter GDP fell 4.8 percent in the US, the worst contraction since the Great Recession and we are looking at an unprecedented 52.8 percent decline in the second quarter. The situation is compounded by confusing and counterproductive messaging from the White House. Trump has made policy decisions that exacerbate the problem his denial, slow response, and mishandling of the pandemic have made the situation far worse. Research out of Columbia University blames the Trump administration’s failures for the deaths of 36,000 people. In the absence of capable federal leadership, the new infections continue to spiral out of control. The premature reopening is adding to the more than 136,000 people who have been killed by the virus and it will further weaken an already struggling economic recovery.
However, there is reason to hope even in the midst of despair. The virus has shed a light on impropriety and malfeasance. It has revealed that the Trump administration is on the wrong side of all the most important issues of the day. This modern-day plague has also exposed the moral bankruptcy of Republican lawmakers who participate in a conspiracy of lies to protect a corrupt president. They enrich themselves and advance the interests of the oil and gas industry yet they do nothing for the people they are supposed to represent.
COVID-19 has set in motion a cascade of events that will ripple through our economies and change the political and social fabric of our world. This virus may even augur a seismic shift in geopolitics that alters our collective trajectory.
The coronavirus has accelerated the move away from fossil fuels. Despite the massive job losses in the energy sector, there is evidence to suggest that renewables are better positioned over the long term. The virus has driven a spate of oil bankruptcies and expedited the decline of the entire industry. The global divestment movement continues to grow and many investors no longer see the merit of building out infrastructure on the crumbling foundation of a dying industry.
Terrible as it is, this pandemic has an upside including reintroducing the general public to the importance of facts and science, It has also made the point that administrations that eschew evidence-based policy are incapable of responsible leadership. The polls reveal that Americans do not share the president’s views, and all indications are that we will see unprecedented political change in November.
Will we learn from COVID-19 or will we return to business as usual? Time will tell. One thing is certain, we are either on the cusp of a paradigm change or we are witnessing the collapse of civilization.