Will it take a global pandemic for us to realize there’s another way of doing things?
IE Insights, IE University’s magazine, asked me to write an article about my perspective on what awaits us in the coming years, following the publication of my book, “Viviendo en el futuro”, which will soon be out in English as “Living in the Future”, and some other recent pieces.
The result, “The future is upon us”, (pdf), sets out the technological context behind my prospective analysis, which begins with the much-needed replacement of the fundamental energy technology that has brought us here: fossil fuels and the internal combustion engine; and continues with an overview of an economic system that has generated the greatest levels of inequality in human history, taking us to the brink of the unsustainable.
I wrote the article a few weeks ago, which means that its conclusion doesn’t directly reflect the crisis we are experiencing as COVID-19 continues to spread unchecked: will it take a global pandemic for us to realize there’s another way of doing things? Instead of seeing this crisis as an episode, how about we gave it structural consideration? The climate emergency kills far more people every year than SARS CoV-2, but we simply ignore it because we ascribe those deaths to a whole other range of issues, from respiratory diseases to other types of disorders.
Emissions levels in many countries have already fallen drastically: but instead of this windfall being driven by an emergency, what if it was the result of planning? How much could we reduce emissions by working from home, not entirely, but simply by understanding that many jobs can be done from home, allowing us to stagger the journey to our offices, without creating the monumental traffic jams we see every day? What would happen if we realized that if we can make certain economic sacrifices, going so far as to practically stop the economy to try to avoid the spread of a virus, we can certainly make much smaller and much better planned sacrifices to limit the climate emergency and even halt it? Why do we accept that the hangover from the pandemic will require economic rescue measures for some, but we are unable to accept that in a society as wealthy as the present one, so many of us live in poverty? Why do we only react when the threat is immediate?
In short, will it take a pandemic to bring the world to its senses?
(En español, aquí)