Initiative about Planet survival
Governments all over the world have been shackled by Covid 19. It is totally understandable that they didn’t know what to do, when to do it or, in most cases, how to do it. How could they? They have not seen a pandemic before and the records of the last one show that it dealt, extremely badly, with a totally different world to the one we now live in. The only lesson we could have learnt was to be prepared. And we weren’t. We still aren’t – for the next one. We still have a lot to learn and apply about the present one. I see that major advisors are now suggesting what we advised nearly a year ago – to be prepared to live with endemic Covid for a very long time.
Why were we not prepared? Because we have let the world slip into ‘nowism’ instead of looking ahead. Democratic voting systems and frequent poling of voters have driven us ever more short-term. The first rule about initiative is that you have to decide between the immediate and the medium-to-long term. Immediate initiative is easy to understand. Taking a longer view requires courage and risk most people try to avoid.
Deciding between short-term and long-term is difficult. You want to see yourself as honest. If there is an attendant in charge of the car park where you find something of apparent value, do you take it to him or her and ask them to pass it on if anyone comes looking for it? Or do you leave it on the ground in case the owner comes back looking for it? Initiative is all about the $100 note on the ground. It involves being observant, considering the options, weighing desire against morality, thinking short-term and long-term and deciding what you can and cannot live with.
Reduce initiative to short-term only and you will have no humans on the planet in two hundred years time. Climate and sustainability are forcing some longer-term thinking but is it enough? If, as I suspect, not, then who is to take the initiative? If you answer ‘governments’ you are expecting politicians who live day by day at the whim of their constituents, to be enlightened enough to permit them to attend to this longer-term need. After all, when everything becomes extremely short term, even half an hour longer seems to qualify as medium-term.
Right-thinking and concerned people like David Attenborough are powerful at taking the initiative and do so splendidly. But there are not enough of them and they do not command the kind of money needed to deal with the situation. Charities galore service parts of the need and many individuals do a sterling job of protecting the environment. But do you think there is a need for a Big Voice, able to command a lot of attention and persuade the ordinary person of the dangers we are facing and how slender is the chance of overcoming them in time?
How about asking Alphabet, Disney, Comcast, 21-Century Fox and Facebook to jointly do the task of convincing the world’s population that action is overdue and must be started now. They could be required to devote a considerable amount of time and money to doing the job professionally in exchange for temporary (for, say, the next five years), slightly less ferocious taxi impositions than are currently being drawn up. And they could be held accountable for their results which should be constantly and independently measured.
Might it be the most successful international exercise the world could do?
And with the five companies’ coverage and ability could it succeed?