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This report is a follow up from the initial report on Solving the MegaCrisis. Now we present responses from the second round of this study using collective intelligence again. Quick summaries of the responses shown below show some who see more peril ahead and those who see the promise of change.
Jose Cordeiro captures this nicely by noting that the Chinese word for “crisis” means both threat and opportunity.
Hazel Henderson, Futurist and CEO of Ethical Markets Media, offers guides to avoid a collapse of the Internet under heavy loads caused by the virus crisis. “Now that everyone and every organization on the planet is going virtual … the question is on everyone’s lips: ‘Will the coronavirus break the internet?’ We at Ethical Markets are using some simple rules… They will not harm anyone’s business or other outreach activities. Rather such politeness and consideration for essential users and public information can help assure that the internet can continue to be the vital backbone of our lives for the foreseeable future.
Peter King, Environmental Consultant, provides comments from two of his associates in Asia: “Among my peers, there is considerable anxiety about what kind of world will emerge from COVID-19. The accumulating threats to the planet—climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, illegal wildlife trade, air and water pollution, depletion of fish stocks, loss of coral reefs, among others—have been put on the back burner, while billions of people are hunkering down at home. On the other side of this pandemic, will we go all out for economic recovery at the cost of the remaining absorptive capacity of the planet, or will we have learned our ultimate lesson—Nature always wins in the end.
Jose Cordeiro, Vice Chair, HumanityPlus and Director of The Millennium Project, shows how this crisis presents both threats and opportunities. “We are currently living in a MegaCrisis, which implies MegaDanger but also MegaOpportunity. Even though Covid-19 originated in China, it is now a global problem and it requires a global solution. This MegaCrisis can be the MegaOpportunity to move forward together as one global family in our small planet.
Michael Lee, Futurist and Author, examines the possibilities: “We could be facing unemployment and poverty on a scale that will dwarf the impacts of the financial crisis of 2008-9. When the global economy awakes from its lockdown hibernation, will it be a zombie economy? Will the epoch of wars and empires, which has engulfed history and caused more death and grief than I have the stomach to calculate, finally be over? Can we come together as one human race, black, white, yellow, brown and all the beautiful shades of human skin, to focus on the one reason why we’re all here in the first place: to use our fleeting lives for the total, ethical upliftment of human civilization?”
Fadi Bayoud, Consultant, Strategic Anchors, offers his vision of a preferable future: “beautiful as a priceless piece of art where: Spirituality drives human relationships. Science is respected, and governments invest more in scientific research … People’s development becomes a social policy. Education becomes free and foresight oriented …Economy becomes shared and sustainable … The countryside and Nature are a source for spiritual, psychological, and somatic healing. Industrial energy production is sustainable. Individual households produce their own energy needs … where rivers and lakes are source of pure and clean water. Health paradigm shifts to prevention.”
Julio Millan, President of the World Future Society, Mexico, thinks the megacrisis is showing us that we have been leading the wrong model: it is not about individual gains, but about the common welfare to behave like good citizens and understand what it means to do things for our community, to be empathetic to our neighbors, and to create better societies. Our concern now should be, what are we going to do when the liberal order, to which we are so accustomed, falls? We are in a historical moment, because after the pandemic our preconception of the world is going to change: we are entering a new era.
Preventing an Internet Crash: Conserving Precious Bandwidth
Hazel Henderson, USA
Futurist. CEO of Ethical Markets Media
Producer, TV series “Transforming Finance.”
Author of the forthcoming e-textbook,
MAPPING THE GLOBAL GREEN TRANSITION, 2009-2020
Now that everyone and every organization on the planet is going virtual, we can observe some simple rules and etiquette in all our online communications, so as to preserve our internet and ensure priority access for our children trying to learn online and all our first responders, health and other public service providers and trusted information sources.
Naturally, we humans are social creatures and in most countries in isolated lockdowns, we yearn for our natural physical connections and contacts. This has led to reaching out online as never before and is straining the platforms that provide these services, as reported in The Economist “Breaking the Net”,(4/4/20). These services are still providing streaming videos, TV bingeing, exchanging cat pictures, and the arms race of webinars, videoconferences for operations, marketing and management needs of millions of companies of all sizes, as well as online gaming and other less necessary, often frivolous uses. We, along with millions, were backing “net neutrality “allowing all uses of the internet equal access for all content. Yet, as noted, the question is on everyone’s lips is: “will the coronavirus break the internet?”
Hopefully, these platforms will be robust enough for handing all this explosion of traffic online. The weakness may be mobile networks, where in many parts of the developing world, the 4 billion or so users of the internet access it by their mobile phones. Many are also using their phones for entertainment as well as work and personal communications. Base stations are overloaded, calls drop, speeds slow while in developed societies telecoms are dealing with huge surges in call volume. Yet, the longer stay-at-home rules continue, people are turning to video chatting and streaming video and more online entertainment. Those thrown out of work cannot get on unemployment websites or phones to access their checks. European and other regulators have asked big streaming services, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube to reduce the quality of their videos to free up capacity.
Many advertisers in the USA are still running obsolete ads showing happy crowds, hugging and portraying physical togetherness, irresponsibly wasting bandwidth while contradicting current rules on physical distancing.
So why don’t all of us who are conscious of the vital need to maintain these internet services, just use and promote our own rules for responsible internet use, especially when video is unnecessary and we can communicate effectively on audio, and our phones and landlines. We at Ethical Markets are using these simple rules:
- Make sure that your communications are necessary and can be on e-mail, audio or phones where possible.
- If video is necessary for meeting new people on webinars, make use of the video for introductions, then turn to audio, for the meeting, and only turn video on again to wave your goodbyes.
- Make sure that any webinars you organize are for information purposes, rather than for comfort, entertainment, competitive branding, advertising, marketing or PR.
- Simplify your e-mails and make your communications as concise as possible.
These simple rules will not harm anyone’s business or other outreach activities. Rather such politeness and consideration for essential users and public information can help assure that the internet can continue to be the vital backbone of our lives for the foreseeable future.
Report From Asia
Peter King, Thailand
Environmental Consultant, Thailand
Among my peers, there is considerable anxiety about what kind of world will emerge from COVID-19. The accumulating threats to the planet—climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, illegal wildlife trade, air and water pollution, depletion of fish stocks, loss of coral reefs, among others—have been put on the back burner, while billions of people are hunkering down at home. On the other side of this pandemic, will we go all out for economic recovery at the cost of the remaining absorptive capacity of the planet, or will we have learned our ultimate lesson—Nature always wins in the end.
Here are comments two of them gave me:
Former Private Sector manager, Asia
Since humans have become such rotten custodians of the Planet I give them 100 years, maybe, before we are wiped out. We deserve it. May be some indigenous groups who understand the need to live in harmony with nature will survive. It rather amazes me that relatively few are concerned about the destruction of nature and the climate change time bomb.
Will covid change the world? Doubt it. The big corporates will emerge stronger and more dominate than ever. Xi is hell bent on his agenda. The US with theirs. Only a massive frightening climate change event that endangers all humans will bring genuine cooperation. Maybe too late by then.
Perhaps advocating the destruction of the planet and embracing it, will actually spurs the complacent into action! There are younger generations who have never experienced any real setbacks, financial crises etc. This may make them political activists. For better?
Retired project manager, Asia
Interesting but I cannot get onto the level referred to by Ruben Nelson – We do not get it that if we are to have a future, it lies beyond our MTI cultures and form of civilization. I can, however, understand David Passig’s article. I am a pragmatic nature loving retiree, wondering where the fish have gone, and catching up on books and TV, having literally just finished an assignment. Last night my futurist thoughts went no further than Star Trek Discovery, which I have not seen!
Concerning “Dennis Bushnell’s “back-to-the-land” scenario,” how can everyone have a bit of land? Or is he assuming the top few percent will be the only survivors and get the land?
But I empathize very much with Jim Dator’s comment “When I was young, in the 1950s and 60s, there was very good reason for me to feel that the arc of history was indeed bending towards justice, equity, balance, and peace. Sure, there were plenty of obstacles and setbacks, but there were also almost unbelievably positive social changes in the way many humans behaved towards one another, other inhabitants of the Earth, and the Earth itself. Until 1980, the future for the first thirty years of my life looked incrementally but importantly better and better…. “
Crisis = Danger + Opportunity
Jose Cordeiro, MBA, PhD, Spain
Vice Chair, HumanityPlus
Director, The Millennium Project
Fellow, World Academy of Art and Science
Author of the Spanish best-seller “La muerte de la muerte”
The Chinese word for crisis has two characters. The first character represents danger, and the second character can be interpreted as opportunity, change of time, moment or chance. Even though the meaning of the characters can vary according to the context and nearby characters, the understanding of crisis as danger plus opportunity can help us to analyze the present situation of our planet.
We are currently living in a MegaCrisis, which implies MegaDanger but also MegaOpportunity. Even though the Covid-19 originated in China, it is now a global problem and it requires a global solution. This MegaCrisis can be the MegaOpportunity to move forward together as one global family in our small planet, if we avoid the MegaDanger of standing divided against our common enemy.
Covid-19 probably represents the worst pandemic in about a century, but thanks to the exponential advances of science and technology, we might be able to stop it soon together. I am convinced that we will have some antivirals in a few weeks and the first vaccines in a few months. It is quite possible that this terrible pandemic will be remembered in the future for having been overcome with unprecedented speed.
Covid-19 is being a great learning opportunity for humankind. It is very likely that we will sequence the next pandemic virus in just two days, and the next one after in two hours, but not in two weeks as it was for Covid-19 now, or in two months for SARS two decades ago, or in over two years for AIDS four decades ago:
After this MegaDanger, the world will be better prepared for new pandemics and more global challenges such as climate change, wars, terrorism, earthquakes and tsunamis, meteorites and other space threats, among many future challenges. It is the MegaOpportunity so that this will be the last great pandemic that all of humanity will suffer!
Michael Lee, South Africa
Author, EarthRise 2036
Chrysalis: A Surgical Sci-Fi Story About Immortal Potential
The world will surely rise again when the COVID-19 pandemic has peaked and receded, but it will not be the same place. By then, we may have lost over a quarter of a million souls. At the same time, we could be facing unemployment and poverty on a scale that will dwarf the impacts of the financial crisis of 2008-9 which led to the Great Recession. When the global economy awakes from its lockdown hibernation, will it be a zombie economy? Will the epoch of wars and empires, which has engulfed history and caused more death and grief than I have the stomach to calculate, finally be over? Can we come together as one human race, black, white, yellow, brown and all the beautiful shades of human skin, to focus on the one reason why we’re all here in the first place: to use our fleeting lives for the total, ethical uplifting of human civilization?
Many brilliant minds have become the dashboard of civilization in our times, a kind of intellectual Mission Control for guiding our Earthship to safety, have identified several underlying causes of the MegaCrisis. I can add only one at this time: the misalignment between the political cycles of democracy, driven by elections every four or five years, and all other time cycles, including in the following systems: economic, environmental, energy, educational and demographic. The need for reform of political systems has never been greater. To whom are political leaders and parties accountable for the long-term impacts of their policies? The corruption, self-interest, showmanship, misinformation, and time-wasting that results from these short-term electoral cycles, which underpin modern Western politics, is one of the main reasons for our dysfunctional world. Nor can the bloated autocracies and oligarchies outside of the West be considered as alternative, viable role-models. Political leaders seem more focused on staying in power in the next election, or in extending power indefinitely in an obliteration of freedom, than on mission-critical long-term projects like solving the climate change challenge or overcoming poverty and inequality. The short-term electoral cycle is entirely out of sync with the true rhythms of the Earth and of civilization. The ethical reform of political systems should encompass the core concept of becoming aligned not just to the time-cycles that are true to life itself but to the needs of humanity crying out as one for an end to its paralysis in the face of worldwide political expediency.
Can This Be the Resurrection of a Billion Phoenixes?
Fadi Bayoud, PhD, MBA, UAE
CEO of the consultancy boutique, Strategic Anchors
Considering all the suffering that is happening now, be it in health, economy, society, or psyche, is it too utopian to draw an optimistic image of the future? After all, we Homo Sapiens are emotional beings who dream big and aspire for the transcendentals: Beauty (using Arts), Truth (exploring Science), and Goodness (guided by Spirituality).
The optimistic image is not about the best-case scenario, because “best” is very subjective. I watched yesterday a young man on BBC saying that what is happening now, and the expected economic collapse is great news for him because he will be able to make lots of money. Well, let him make his lots of money; good for him. But let us imagine a future where his money is not very much useful for us.
Reading stories about ordinary people (Ordinary? Why am I using this adjective? Who is not “ordinary”?) and watching short videos about how neighbors who otherwise never met each other’s, seeing them eager to talk, to share a meal on balconies, enjoying a glass of wine together celebrating Easter, these small things make me optimistic about our future.
Although Homo Sapiens have seen worse times, the current connected world with the stories being circulated, the hopes being raised, and the common collective sufferings will change people’s perception on what is important and what is less important. We become now to appreciate a handshake!
This small 0.15-micron virus could wreak havoc in the biggest nations, challenge colossal economic systems, crash longstanding social chauvinism, demolish false perception of power, shake the (not so buried) belief of “superior” races; however, it seems to have failed to hurt the human collective system and spirit.
It seems that we are rethinking what we consider valuable; I want to hope that we are aligning our value system to principles that transcend cultural, social, and racial differences and that endured across the ages. (Read Stephen R. Covey’s book Primary Greatness: The 12 Levers of Success.)
As our mythologies tell us, the current suffering is a must for a better life. It is a baptism of fire and sickness, of death and pain, of despair and agony. Many current and past religions have talked about resurrection because it is human to dream of, aspire for, and act on having a better life. Humanity will rise again.
It is the resurrection for a better life; it is the Billion Phoenixes. The image of the future that I see is beautiful as a priceless piece of art where: Spirituality drives human relationships. Science is respected and governments invest more in scientific research. The family regain its importance for the well-being of its members, with the society’s help when needed. People’s development becomes a social policy (regardless of centralization or decentralization). Education becomes free and foresight oriented. Free access to the digital world is a human right. Economy becomes shared and sustainable. Cities are clean hubs of human interaction. The countryside and Nature are a source for spiritual, psychological, and somatic healing. Industrial energy production is sustainable. Individual households produce their own energy needs. As air is free to inhale, water becomes free to drink, where rivers and lakes are source of pure and clean water. Health paradigm shifts to prevention. Food is cheap to produce. Meat-production animals roam freely in designated areas. Wildlife is protected and respected.
Utopia? A far-fetched dream? An impossible and preposterous image of the future?
I see it as a Possible and even Plausible Future. Why do not we make it a Preferable Future?
What Should Be the Actions Now and, in the Future, to Afford This Crisis?
Lic. Julio A. Millan B., Mexico
Presidente, World Future Society, Capitulo, Mexicano A.C .
COVID-19 is teaching us the concern that human beings have on this planet, but also the instability of the order in which we have settled as a civilization. It is not the first time that we are experiencing a pandemic, and of course it will not be the last one. We have in our hands the possibility of not only finding answers to face the current crisis, but also the great responsibility to anticipate and respond to what we are going to do to be prepared for future crises.
In recent months it has been shown that we need empathy and solidarity in the world. The effects of the pandemic could have diminished if international cooperation had flowed and if human interests had been given priority over economic ones. But, as Thomas Hobbes said, “man is the wolf of man”, because we are so used to live in a society where the most important thing is individual well-being.
The mega crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is showing us that we have been leading the wrong model: it is not about individual gains, but about the common welfare. It should be a good time to behave like good citizens and understand what it means to do things for our community, to be empathetic to our neighbors, and to create better societies.
But this has not been the case and that is why the crisis presents us with a great challenge that has gone from being a health issue to putting in check the entire economic, political and social system in which we have lived.
As the South Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han wrote in an article, Western civilization must recognize that the true wolf of man is individualism and by admitting it will mean the end of liberalism itself. Are we truly ready to transition to an Eastern order?
Regarding Mexico, it is a neighbor country to the United States and therefore it is a dependent and peripheral economy. The measures that have been taken have been few and have demonstrated the deficiencies that the country has in two critical areas: in health and in the generation and economic development through employment.
The current government has shown short experience to face this crisis, and the worst thing is that all decisions are politicized, ignoring the real situation of the change of the world to a new era of cooperation.
Mexico could represent a risk for the United States if the situation results in violence, for which, in this sense, the United States-Mexico relationship it’s uncertain.
Our concern now should be what are we going to do when the liberal order, to which we are so accustomed, falls? We are in a historical moment, because after the pandemic our preconception of the world is going to change: we are entering a new era.