A fine lesson for the future

Jared Diamond, a geographer and specialist in societal collapse, offers an optimistic view of the current situation: the virus can become our ally in the fight against the major threats to humankind.

The coronavirus, despite its dramatic consequences, is not a mortal threat to humankind or even to our major economic functions. Unlike the pandemics of the past, it is unlikely to result in population displacement or military conflict. But the same cannot be said for the other large-scale disasters the world as a whole is already facing — climate change, resource depletion, and north-south inequalities — which are all far more perilous and irreversible than the current epidemic. What’s more, Covid-19 could even ultimately serve a crucial purpose in overcoming the plagues that lie in wait for us. Indeed, it has already been invaluable since it has had an immediate and tangible impact: we quickly understood the need to combat the virus together and to coordinate as widely as possible to do so. This is a significant first on the scale of humanity, and it is an excellent lesson for the future: if we know how to do this in the context of the pandemic, why couldn’t we do the same thing again when faced with other threats?

 

To go further: Jared Diamondlessons from a pandemic (The Financial Times, May 2020)