Saturday, April 18, 2020

What do Pandemics and Climate Breakdown Have in Common? They're a Lot Easier to Handle If You're Rich.

We know that, eventually, climate breakdown will exact a heavy toll on every country. However, like pandemics, the burden will be easier to bear for rich countries than for poor nations.

The rich have options that the poor do not.

A clear example of what that means, in terms of life and death, is the pandemic in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in Africa.

When the government ordered a pandemic lockdown it sent many of citizens into the streets in protest. On BBC this morning one of these protesters explained their predicament quite simply - what you manage to earn each day determines how much food you will have on the table for your family that evening.

It's the 21st century equivalent of hunter-gatherer economics. There is no social safety net. Sheltering in place can mean dying in place.
A Malawi high court has temporarily barred the government from implementing a 21-day lockdown to curb coronavirus following a petition by a human rights group.

Small-scale traders, often young people, had been staging protests in the three major cities against the planned lockdown, initially due to begin on Saturday, carrying placards declaring that it would be better to contract the virus than die of hunger because they are unable to work. 
Most of those protesting called on the government to provide them with cash and food handouts if a lockdown went ahead.
We see Covid-19 in the context of our own experience - locally, provincially, nationally. That is our reality. Others would give almost anything to endure our struggle.

We are going to see this rich-poor dichotomy play out again and again as humanity is battered by more pandemics and the looming impacts of climate breakdown.  Survival will be dictated in no small part by resilience, the ability to bounce back before the next punch lands.  Countries that are more resilient will fare better but they may become much less compassionate toward the have-nots.

It's a hell of a "reset" button.


Toby said...

Malawi is one of Africa's basket cases. It is a disaster without Covid-19. The economy is mostly agricultural with 80% of the population living in rural areas. They have been suffering from drought and will continue to do so with Climate Change. Malawi receives Western aid but has a corruption problem.

For a good background analysis check here:

The Disaffected Lib said...

Malawi is a mess but that's not uncommon in various parts of Africa. They're so close to the edge in good times that they lack the resilience to survive the cumulative effects of disease, climate change, food insecurities, and human threats. They're always just one hard punch away from hitting the mat.

Anonymous said...

You know who's to blame for Malawi being poor? White people.