Covid, the economy and the climate

While this blog has taken a break in favor of other topics that are still being taught, the crisis has continued into its second and third wave. In one of my earlier posts I shared some reflections about the lessons we can learn from history about where this crisis will lead to. Most of the questions posed are still unanswered. But we have some new material and information to reflect about the questions posed in this course, e.g. the role of leadership in crisis and the relationship between this crisis to others, like the climate crisis. In this video interview, Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir reflects about her leadership role and her country’s approach to tackling the pandemic. Aside from the fact that an earthquake was happening right in the middle of the interview, the interview indicates that the 4th lesson from history that “populists have fared poorly” remains true and is very interesting to watch. Whether or not the crisis will lead to a Rooseveltian social and green “New Deal” or a Great Depression, the 3rd lesson, is still much more unclear. While we have many things to learn from the Covid-19 crisis for the “even more daunting challenge of anthropogenic global warming”, as five leading climate scientists argue in this article (Vinke et al. 2020), last year’s hopes that the crisis will lead to shift in people’s consumption-oriented mindsets and to a reorganizing of our economies are somewhat daunted. Many are frustrated with state regulation and emphasize individual liberties rather than a steered change in behavior for a greater public good. But, at the same time, the Covid-19 crisis teaches policy-makers and people alike that a scientific understanding is important as a basis for acting, and that “avoiding the unmanageable and managing the unavoidable” (Vinke et al. 2020) is much less damaging than a “wait and see” strategy. Let’s hope that these lessons – from history and from current experience – are widely understood and considered.

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