Human misery may spread like a virus itself as economic consequences unfold

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In all the wide, wonderful, bizarre world of the internet, the last place I ever thought I’d find myself gravitating to in the morning is a global death-count one, updated every few hours. But then again few of us have ever lived through a pandemic of this magnitude before.

The coronavirus itself is definitely unsettling, particularly the way it has spread so far and so fast and so thoroughly (French Polynesia has 3 cases, the same as Monaco?). From a human well-being standpoint though, the economic consequences may be even more devastating, and for a longer period.

That’s of course not to downplay the significance of the deaths, it goes without saying that those are tragic. But we are about to see people’s lives turned upside down for an unknown period of time, which could impact global incomes particularly in places that have few other options.

Consider the growing number of cruise ships parked until at least mid-summer. From a typically westernized perspective, we may simply chalk that up to one less holiday option. But consider all the direct and indirect incomes that will disappear because of that. Hundreds of thousands work on cruise ships directly. At each port that these behemoths stop at, well-fed customers lurch ashore to buy shot glasses and straw hats and tee shirts and meals and lord knows what else at markets that have built up around the cruise business. The entire process is a completely visible wealth transfer from well-off cruisers to every point of land contact.

On top of that, airlines are seeing their business dwindle to nothing, which impacts not only their direct employees but hotels, Uber drivers, and the general hospitality industry built up around each.

All of those functions and activities, and countless spin offs, are grinding to a halt. What will happen to localized economies that are built on tourism, in otherwise not-wealthy regions? Can we even begin to calculate that? Who will provide the safety nets? What will happen to the health and well-being of families impacted whether or not they ever get near coronavirus?

Beyond the spread of the virus itself, the unravelling of life as we know it, even if only for a relatively brief period of time, is a reminder of the interconnected web of our way of life and how critical each strand of that web is. Energy advocates speak of this endlessly, how we take for granted these basic channels of industrial activity that keep our world humming the way we want it.

Now we are getting a glimpse of what a major disruption to that world looks like, and in some ways this disruption is relatively benign compared to what some would like, those calling for a relatively quick rewiring of the world’s energy infrastructure. It’s not going to happen. We simply can’t change course quickly when entire nations have been developed around certain human activities and distribution systems, including fuel systems. We simply can’t, and to watch the effects when we are even partially forced to is devastating.

Help promote rational energy dialogue based on knowledge – not on fear, not on environmental indifference, and not on ignorance. Pick up “The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity” at Amazon.caIndigo.ca, or Amazon.com. Time to take back the narrative.

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5 Comments

  1. CLIVE SCHAUPMEYER says:

    Always appreciate your articles. Thanks. This one is spot on. I feel for our sons and families who were already affected by the downturn in the oil industry.
    There is a minor spelling error “unravelling of live as we know it,” should be “life” and it is possible that “unravelling” has only one “L” .. not sure about that. You can delete my note.
    Thanks again for your wise articles.
    Clive

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  2. John Chittick says:

    Once resource based economic activities have been stalled or dispensed with, tourism based activities are all that’s left in many remote areas. Having been involved in the war in the woods three decades ago, those of us attempting to defend forestry were up against the same players that have been so successful in doing the same to the Oil patch. In those battles tourism was (inversely) touted as not only a replacement but economically superior to resource jobs. This was based on the myth that the resource sector and tourism were mutually exclusive, but the greens are never the benevolent eco-guardians they are portrayed by their parroting media. They were long ago subsumed by the institutional left and now work tirelessly with an unending agenda.

    Although I draw no satisfaction from the plight of innocent individuals, I look at jurisdictions like Victoria, smug in their “green” hospice-economy (recycling pension and government cheques), as they now squeal that their only significant private sector based economic activity besides house construction is threatened, and I shrug.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. shakeyjay says:

    One seems to forget the H1N1 swine flu virus back in 2010. No panic then. It was as equally infectious as this one is with way more deaths, With Corona, common sense seems to have been lost on the general population. I blame the media, as always, for flogging panic to sell subscriptions. Shame on them.

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  1. […] We are about to see people’s lives turned upside down for an unknown period of time, which could impact global incomes particularly in places that have few other options. What will happen to localized economies that are built on tourism, in otherwise not-wealthy regions? Can we even begin to calculate that? What will happen to the health and well-being of families impacted whether or not they ever get near coronavirus? A profound lesson in what happens when established economic microclimates are disrupted. Read on… […]

    Like

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