COVID-19, the Economy, the Environment, and Me

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In March, when countries began going into lockdown due to COVID-19, I would catch headlines saying that the global economy would be badly hit. At the same time, I also read positive news about the environment — e.g. how the air pollution over Wuhan was improving.

We are now in May, and we have a few months of emerging data on the impact of the pandemic on society and economy, as well as the environment. On the one hand, we see statistics of rising death toll, unemployment, poverty, domestic violence, suicide, and other ills; on the other hand, we also read of better air quality, lower carbon emissions, and improved waterways and aquatic life.

We are told that humans are uncontrollably crossing over the tipping points of global warming and warnings by environmentalists are not making enough of an impact. So it seems like the only solution to long-term systemic global repair is a pandemic-level slowdown of human activity; and with it, great human suffering in the immediate term. So I am asking myself:

How did we get to this place where we need to suffer so badly in order for us to repair and safeguard our long-term well being?

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Thinking About Systems Thinking

Remember 1993?

The World Wide Web (which we now simply call the Internet) was beginning to take shape with the launch of Mosaic web browser. It was also the year I first encountered the term Systems Thinking.

Fifth DisciplineThe Cambridge University MBA programme, in particular Dr. John Roberts, took us on this weird and wonderful world of seeing our workplaces and the world through the lens of interconnectivity. I fell in love with the idea once I understood it. I devoured every page of Peter Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline (1990), and I still have my copy today, albeit somewhat tattered (yes, that is my copy on the right).

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