I met with a group of biologists, researchers in cell biology and doctors, yesterday. The COVID-19 is powerful, stange. More complex in structure than previous COVIDS. Many unknowns. They were very pessimistic. Even if an antidote is created, manufacturing it at scale is very hard. It is a very demanding process requiring growth in eggs or animals. They think ten years before we have a global capacity antiviral capacity . If there is hope they, agree, it is in the unknown. New antivirus, new zapping technology, new? But this is unknown, not to be counted on.
We are looking at a suppressed peak but waves of COVID-19 recurrence long into the future.
At the same time the economy will not fully recover. New hotspots will curtail some businesses and missing employees who chose not to work will make the economy feel moth eaten, a crumbling bridge to the future. Desire to spend beyond necessities is down in a society dependent on consumer confidence. Supply chains are vulnerable and of course, as Martin Wolff wrote last week, you cannot order people to go to work. Musk’s behavior threatening to move out of California is costing him social capital. How long can the states keep up unemployment insurance? What about the large number who are undocumented and have no benefits and are hungry? It seems to me that state and major corporate bankruptcies are on the near horizon. Maybe this week?
So we have two curves above zero out into the future of measures of damage. But those two curves, two futures, interact with each other. Now, add to that the rising curve of co2, increasing temperatures, rising seas, declining fish and we now have three curves, all of large scale damage. We need to find a way to act.
Do we need a manhattan style project, really smart people given lots of resources, to deal with those three curves simultaneously? Would this require a state with unlimited powers? We need economic and political and health innovations simultaneously. Political ecology.
Where might the leadership of such a mega approach arise? Or do we chose radical decentralization?