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201101 On Pandemics, Pigs and our Children

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Abstract

Many brains are in fear or flight mode these days or raging in anger, because they don't agree with the measures our political systems have imposed on our daily lives. If the amygdala fires, human beings, in particular politicians, tend to make short term decisions. This essay looks from a systemic perspective into why covid-19 has appeared on the world scene and what we ought to do about it.
On Covid, Pigs & Our Children.
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Many brains are in fear and flight mode these days or raging in anger, because they don’t agree
with the measures our political systems have imposed on our daily lives.
If the amygdala fires, human beings, in particular politicians, tend to make short term decisions.
Here are some thoughts to calm down our minds and focus on a clear light at the end of this
tunnel.
§ Covid-19 is not an isolated pandemic, but one connected to the climate crisis. It is part of
the 6th mass extinction which has started to affect our own species.
§ As psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote: In a system there are no side effects – just effects,
anticipated or not. What we see as “side effects” simply reflects our flawed understanding
On Covid, Pigs & Our Children.
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of the system. In a complex system cause and effect may be more distant in time and space
than we realize.
§ A 2017 study confirmed that Germany has lost ¾ of its aerial insects since 1989. The
ecological havoc industrial agriculture has wrecked on insects now turns into a boomerang.
§ If a vaccination against covid-19 is found, it will not solve the climate crisis and as such stop
this ongoing, man-made mass extinction.
§ What we need is a system transformation. The pandemic is pushing us into this
transformation.
§ The forced isolation and shutdown of the production system during the first European lock
down has resulted in a 5% reduction in annual CO2 emissions. Ecologist Jean-Marc
Jancovici estimated on May 17, 2020 that it would take a similar drop each year for thirty
years to comply with the Paris climate agreement.
§ Yet, even the UN preaches economic growth in its SDG #8. Given the existing ratio
between GDP growth and the income growth of the poorest, it will take 207 years to
eliminate poverty with this strategy, and to get there, we will have to grow the global
economy by 175 times its present size.
§ There is no planet B; and we need to give up the idea that we can rebuild the economy to
what it was before covid-19.
§ How could a different economy look like? Circular instead of linear? Do we need to
transcend the materialistic perspective of economics? Or has the time come that the rich –
individuals, organizations and nations - simply must share?
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§ Thomas Piketty’s research shows that modern inequality is reaching again pre-WWI levels.
Capital’s natural accumulation with the elites, which follows the simple formular (r)evenue
on capital > economic (g)rowth, was only diverted by the two world wars, the great
depression and the post WWII socialist redistribution from 1930 to 1975. Piketty predicted
in 2013 a world of low economic growth and extreme inequality for the years to come.
§ A basic universal income is inevitable. One which allows us to rest during cold winter
periods. One which trusts in the human potential. One which gives human resources and
natural resources an annual period to rest and recover.
§ NASA photographs taken during the first lockdown in China at the beginning of this year
confirm that reduced mobility, local subsistence farming and remote work are a viable
solution to the climate crisis.
§ Many look nowadays on China, some lunatics even praise its government’s success in
keeping the virus at bay and kickstarting the economy after the spring lock down.
§ Xi Jinping however has forecasted that the country’s CO2 emission peak will only be
reached 2030. Such a political statement ignores the ecological reality.
§ And, yes, I almost forgot: covid-19 erupted in China. Why?
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2014 Pig farming density in Asia 2019 African Swine Fever outbreaks in Asia
§ China consumes more than a quarter of the world’s meat and farms e.g. half of the world’s
pig life stock. This extra proportionally high meat consumption contributes to one of the
main drivers of climate change: Eating more meat generates more heat.
§ Moreover, there are reasonable arguments that covid-19 and intense life stock farming are
connected. A swine fever pandemic forced the Chinese government to cull in 2019 up to
60% of its 200 million pig life stock – which is half of the world’s. This animal genocide went
largely unnoticed by the general public, because media reporting was mostly limited to the
life stock industry.
§ How is China’s pork industry connected with covid-19?
§ A pathogen strikes when it finds a suitable host in an environment that favors infection, as
shown where the circles intersect in the above venn diagram. For instance, diarrheal disease
spreads quickly among sick people in unsanitary conditions.
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§ Intense life stock farming creates despite veterinarian precautions a favorable environment
for pathogens and the genetic similarity between pig and human makes it probable that a
virus mutates and then spreads to a new susceptible host.
§ We are facing a future when antibiotics will be ineffective. This is partly because antibiotics
have been misused in factory farms to compensate for overcrowded, unhealthy conditions
which has led to the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant diseases that pass from
animals to humans.
§ We think of ourselves as being on top of the food chain, but parasites and pathogens
control populations, including the human population, like predators.
§ What Daniel Goleman wrote about system awareness is therefore also true in this regard:
In a system there are no side effects – just effects, anticipated or not. What we see as “side
effects” simply reflects our flawed understanding of the system. In a complex system cause
and effect may be more distant in time and space than we realize.
Factory farming Taiwanese 2020 anti covid-19 measures
§ There is one thing which puzzles me in all this: why do we subject our children to
similar conditions like pigs? We keep them 99% indoors. We make them sit in small
cubes. We make them wear masks and disinfect their hands several times a day only to
avoid the spread of an infectious disease.
§ I only know of a single case where this similar treatment of children and pigs can be
reasonably explained: The head of the Heilongjiang Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau,
Tai Deliang, was promoted in 2014 to the top position of Heilongjiang’s Education
Bureau.
§ Dozens of research teams around the globe, of course Chinese ones leading the pack,
strive to find a vaccination to keep our kids in school and parents in offices. The world
indeed is an animal farm like George Orwell once wrote.
§ In a complex system cause and effect may be more distant in time and space than we
realize, so Daniel Goleman writes. Our children should be close enough in time and
space to realize that our societies need a structural overhaul.
§ If free range pigs and pastured poultry are considered to be healthy sources of protein,
we ought to think of children raised in forest schools and wilderness camps as healthy
individuals for tomorrow’s societies.
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§ Jiddu Krishnamurti famously once said that humanity experiences a prolonged
consciousness crisis. Phases of consciousness growth did follow in recent history always
pandemics. One could say that every era had a Pandora’s Box which humanity was
bestowed upon if it didn’t play along the rules of the Gods.
§ The tyranny of the Egyptians was ended by the biblical plague. The decadence of morbid
Byzantine lead to the rise of Mohammed – who taught his followers to abstain from pork.
§ The Black Death ended the narrow-minded clerical scholasticism in Europe and gave birth
to the Renaissance.
§ The 2nd bubonic plague was followed by the scientific revolution and the era of
enlightenment.
§ The 3rd historical plague led to the industrial revolution and modernity.
§ We are at the threshold to, yet another major transformation and our societies’ decision
makers are bound to realize that they need to reform our education systems radically – if
not in honor of Ken Robinson, then for the sake of our children.
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On Covid, Pigs & Our Children.
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§ According to historian Yuval Harari, ancient foragers suffered less from infectious diseases.
Most of the infectious diseases that have plagued agricultural and industrial societies
originated in domesticated animals and were transferred to humans only after the
agricultural revolution. Ancient foragers, who had domesticated only dogs, were free of
these scourges. Moreover, most people in agricultural and industrial societies lived in dense,
unhygienic, permanent settlements – ideal hotbeds for disease. Foragers roamed the land in
small bands that could not sustain epidemics.
§ Sounds like my children will be soon foraging. How about yours?
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A Brief History of Education
Formal:
Ecology
Empathy
Informal:
Everything
else
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