Tag Archives: Overshoot

Why is change so hard? – Social Inertia

Originally published in Greenpeace International

I saw the danger / yet I walked / along the enchanted way. —Patrick Kavanagh, Raglan Road, 1946

Over the past few decades a recurring question arises in public ecological discourse: In the face of overwhelming evidence, scientific warnings, existential urgency, and countless examples of ecological disintegration, why are societies worldwide so slow to respond appropriately?

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Collapse Now, Avoid The Crush

This year has seen a couple of fairly major shocks to the global industrial economic system that so many of us rely upon. One could say that we had a near-collapse experience.

I thought it might be wise to take a moment, step back, and have a look at the bigger picture. To see where western civilization is at, what’s driving us and what kinds of a future we might want to plan for. How does the pandemic fit with other threats to stability.

To help me with this, I sought out the ideas of a Cortes Island thinker and researcher who deals with a lot of the sh*t on this island that most people would rather flush away without looking at – he’s a plumber, but so much more.

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The Pandemic’s Impacts On Frontline Workers – The Stores

In this episode, we get a deep dive from Eric Hargrave, manager at the Cortes Natural Food Cooperative, and Bill Dougan, manager at the Gorge Harbour Marina Resort General Store.  These are two fellows who run grocery stores and have given a lot of thought to the modern food chain.  They present their insights with wit and charm. Together we explored the impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on their lives and their businesses.  I was especially curious about the pandemics impacts on frontline workers — those working the tills and stocking shelves.  

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Shocked, Shocked?

[An earlier version of this article originally appeared in Medium, an online magazine, under the title “The Price Tag.”]

The influenza epidemic of 1918 — as most of us are remembering or discovering right about now — killed about 50 million people worldwide between 1918 and 1920. At that time, the world population was perhaps about 1.8 billion people (as opposed to today’s approximately 7.8 billion people). So to achieve the same statistical impact, a pandemic today would have to kill about 200 million people (or approximately 2/3 the population of the US). Spread of the disease was greatly aided by military deployment at the end of WWI, and by the poor physical condition and abysmal living conditions of troops in the trenches. So far, Covid-19 is not even remotely in the league and hardly merits comparison. However, that could change. Like the old Carpenters song, it’s only just begun.

My second reaction to Covid-19 was one of puzzlement or frustration (I’ve written about the first reaction elsewhere). All around me, people were not only scared or appalled, but bewildered, outraged, shocked. What a freakish thing to happen, how unfair, how incredible, how surreal! A pandemic? A Plague? How mediaeval! Who woulda thunkit? How could that happen here?

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