Weekly Selection 1 May 2020

Nouriel Roubini, The Coming Greater Depression of the 2020s

(Project Syndicate, April 30, 2020)

Gloomy but true! Covid-19 comes at a time when it conflates with ten existing diverse risks that threaten “to fuel a perfect storm that sweeps the entire global economy into a decade of despair”: (1) deficits, debts and ensuing defaults; (2) demographic time bomb, (3) growing risk of deflation, (4) currency debasement, (5) digital disruption, (6) de-globalisation, (7) backlash against democracy, (8) growing rivalry between the US and China, (9) new cold war between the US and its rivals, (10) the environmental disruption (reads in 5-6 min).

Ed Yong, Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing

(The Atlantic, April 29, 2020)

This is a MUST-READ. In a pandemic characterized by extreme uncertainty, this is a a great primer to help us make sense of a problem that is now too big for any one person to fully comprehend. To begin responding to questions we all have such as: why do some people get really sick, but others do not? Are the models too optimistic or too pessimistic? Exactly how transmissible and deadly is the virus? How many people have actually been infected? How long must social restrictions go on for? Why are so many questions still unanswered? (reads in about 20 min but time well spent).

Stuart Thompson, How Long Will a Vaccine Really Take?

(The New York Times, April 30, 2020)

It’s not an exaggeration to say that almost everything in terms of what our future post-pandemic world will look like (in particular the economic recovery) hinges upon a vaccine – the ultimate weapon we have against the coronavirus. This article, based on extensive interviews with vaccine experts, explains in palatable terms how the development of a vaccine works, why we are bound to be disappointed about optimistic timelines, and how different phases could be shortened so that we have a vaccine available in August 2021. It contains plenty of visuals and reads in about 8-9 min.

Chandran Nair, The pandemic is just another sign of our broken food system

World Economic Forum, April 29, 2020

Chandran takes aim at the conventional wisdom about food security (one of today’s most sensitive global issues) and proposes a complete rethink of our food production and self-sufficiency systems. He explains why we have a food-storage and distribution problem, alongside a systemic and growing gluttony problem, not just a production problem. In his view, tackling the combined complexities of these problems would make a huge impact: as the global population increases, we would lessen the impact on the climate and water crisis, reduce biodiversity losses and slow the global obesity epidemic. In short: we need to produce and consume less food (reads in 6-7 min).

Kevin Kelly, 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice

(The Technium, April 28, 2020)

So simple and yet so brilliant! This is Inspired and posted by our friend Robert Cottrell at The Browser. To celebrate his birthday, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine offers 68 pithy bits of unsolicited advice. Even if some seem banal, all of them are worth reading (7-8 min).