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Stopping Contagion in Global Markets and in Humans

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Humanity has achieved tremendous success from all that globalization has brought with it. But in all
 

The Unearth Bulletin

March 12 · Issue #82 · View online
Towards a Sustainable & Inclusive World

Humanity has achieved tremendous success from all that globalization has brought with it. But in all that, it missed noticing the damage and destruction being caused across many domains. Whether it is financial markets or the planets ecology, mental stress or inequality, there have been serious collateral damages in humanity’s march towards progress. And it is this destruction that is increasingly showing up in different ways. Whether it is Coronavirus infection, falling oil prices, or extreme weather across all continents, these are merely scattered symptoms of a much larger ailment. And that is a half-blind economic structure.
Humanity has defined progress as material and individual well-being, and it has measured it using measurable economic value. In the process, it forgot to respect either the planet’s ecology or for that matter individual empowerment, as none of these could be measured well. The focus on economic value added and material consumption is perhaps natural, as only these are measurable, but that does not make it desirable.
Since damage to the environment could not be measured, humanity became blind to the destruction caused by fossil fuels and priced them too low. This artificially low petroleum cost hindered progress in both the usage and generation of other forms of energy for many decades. Taxing and ensuring the high price of fossil fuels could have incentivised a hundred years of development in electric or hydrogen vehicle technologies and renewable energy generation. Humanity never did that, and now dependence on fossil fuels is so massive, that one disagreement between two countries, or even companies, can cause global mayhem.
There is a reason bats, snakes and pangolins are not the staple diet of humans, these have been exotic foods for long, difficult to access and consume. But a society that is unable to identify and measure the larger impact of eliminating such animals will price them cheap and will over-consume it. It is this over-consumption and open display of rare meats that allowed one random virus to jump across animals and into humans, and therein lies the seed behind SARS and now Covid19.
There will be many other such globalized events in the future as well, their form and structure may be different, but the era of multiple global contagions has now begun. The globally integrated economy that is blind to the damage caused to the planet, human bodies and societies will continue to transfer ailments and shocks across the world. Today every country has the same underlying structure and weaknesses. A problem that creeps up in one part of the planet can easily ravage the world.  And so it is the modern economy, that is blind to such collateral damage, that is behind the global challenges of falling financial markets and Coronavirus infections. But there are other silent contagions occurring and the modern economy is responsible for them too.  
What is the solution? Price fossil-derived energy high and see localized economies flourish. Stop subsidizing agriculture that uses chemicals and produces processed foods harmful to the human body, and watch how smaller farms flourish and how smaller restaurants will take-over from large food processing companies. And while we are at it, stop designing cities for private vehicles and watch how localized human interactions increase, and globalized interactions shift to the digital domain. Add to that green ecological zones integrated into urban planning and watch how humanity gets back to its roots of living with nature.  
To sum up, true multidimensional progress will be possible when nature’s favourite child decides to live in harmony with it.
-Laveesh Bhandari

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Reports this fortnight
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It was wonderful to participate in the Co-Creation workshop by Purpose (India) and share my vision of Delhi for 2020.
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I am happy that Indicus participated in the Ashoka Internship Fair. I look forward to working with the talented young adults this summer.
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