Saturday, April 4, 2020

"X lied and people died" - how to help reduce harm from this pandemic and future crises

While most people are taking this specific crisis seriously, and coming together as communities and global citizens, there are still people who are wanting to play political games.  While we are all stressed, and not all acting as logically as we could, we need to all do our best to direct our energy towards helpful rather than harmful pursuits.

Everyone needs to recognise that this pandemic isn't human-made, and should be treated as a war against an invasion of this planet. The country that was attacked first was China, and from this every other country had warning that the battle had started. You might expect from having the least warning that China would be doing worse than everyone else, but they aren't. China has taken the fight very seriously, and has reduced war casualties in their region of jurisdiction.  They have also been actively engaged in information sharing with scientists and healthcare workers across the globe.  We need this global information sharing to continue.

There are some people who still want to try to point fingers at their global neighbours, and seek to blame them for deaths from this current pandemic. While scientists have been warning about pandemics for decades, and politicians largely ignored the warnings, blame is most often being deflected away from those who ignored the warnings and made us more vulnerable.

If you want to get an idea of how well different countries are doing in this global fight, and how accurate some of the blame-games are, I suggest the following. Go to the Worldometers Coronavirus website, and do a sort on the "Deaths /1M pop".  The number of deaths and population are two numbers that have more certainty than the other numbers presented.

At the moment the "World" number is 7.8.

I find it important to note that the two most populous countries, India and China, are both below this number. China is currently at 2, with India below 1. With India there is massive community support to fight this battle, and in China there are both community and central government initiatives.  Given that together they represent 1/3 of the world's population, we should globally be doing all we can to support them.

Canada is currently at 6, so close but still below the world number.

Countries which have a high percentage of angry finger-pointing are higher on the deaths/pop scale, suggesting they should be focused on helping resolve serious problems within their own country.

  • USA is currently at 22.
  • UK is currently at 64

These countries are not the worst off, with other financially rich western countries having higher numbers.

Countries whose politicians have been reducing funding to core infrastructure such as public scientific research, education and health have been making us more vulnerable globally.  The richer the countries the greater their contribution to global public research, education and health should be, but far too often the opposite is the case.

I agree that Canadian PM Justin Trudeau took a long time to close the borders with problematic regions, but it wasn't flights from China that I was worried about but people wondering across the Canada/US border. After generations of politicians and partisan media making people into science skeptics, it's the harm caused by those skeptics -- in Canada and elsewhere -- that I am most worried about.

My hope is that the survivors of this specific pandemic will start to take warnings from scientists more seriously. I am saying this specific pandemic as this is not expected to be a one-off event, and pandemics are not the only life threatening crisis that scientists have been warning about. The warnings about the climate crisis have also not been taken adequately seriously by politicians. We need to aggressively build up infrastructure to handle these crises, including making our economic and social infrastructure more robust, and stop pretending that outdated thinking is reasonable.

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