COVID-19 Will Change the World Forever


March 24, 2020

Transcription

Note: We encourage you to listen to the audio if you are able, as it includes emotion not captured by the transcript. Please check the corresponding audio before using any quotes.

NELUFAR HEDAYAT, HOST:
So it’s the first actual day of spring in London, and I have been looking forward to this for months. But I have been thinking a lot about when to go outside, when to avoid people, how to best protect myself and the people around me. And I have taken some precautionary measures. 

I’m going to the grocery store when it’s really late at night so that I don’t interact with people, and I’m not going to be going home — well, home home, to see my parents — for a little while. 

Let’s see if I have the things that I need in the grocery store, because the main supermarket, it’s just — it’s got nothing. So I’m going to see how we go.

NELUFAR: Hi, it’s Nelufar. This is Course Correction, and this week… we are all facing a huge challenge.

[BELL RINGS]

NELUFAR: Oh no. Hey… 

NELUFAR: That’s my grocer coming to check on me while I was shopping. I think he could see the slight panic etched on my face. 

NELUFAR: I’m just recording something for my work. I’m just trying to see what the effect is of all of this coronavirus.

Yes, they have bread! This is good news. The fresh produce doesn’t seem to be affected too much. They have oat milk! There doesn’t seem to be too much things out of stock. 

NELUFAR: I’ve been shopping in his store for three years now, and my grocer and I usually talk about where I’ve traveled that month and what topic I’m working on for Doha Debates. He and his wife usually walk around the tiny store with me, showing me all the cool new things that they’ve ordered in. Not today. Today he seemed scared of me.

NELUFAR: How do you feel? I mean, you — like, you’re working here, and you’re —

GROCER: I’m working. I’m scared.

NELUFAR: You’re touching everything —

GROCER: I touch everything. Like, you know, wash my hands 30, 50 times. And I have the, like, sanitizer. You understand? 

NELUFAR: Yeah. I’m scared too. I have parents that older —

GROCER: Oh my god.

NELUFAR: So I don’t see them. I don’t go home.

GROCER: Don’t go home. Then you’ll — you’re, you’re strong. No problem. 

NELUFAR: OK. I’m ready to pay.

NELUFAR: My friendly grocer was doing his part for social distancing. He stood a couple of meters away from me while scanning my items. 

NELUFAR: Well, that was a really interesting experience. I mean, I’ve been going to this grocer since I moved here, about three years ago, and he’s usually so chirpy, such an excited and fun and lovely guy. Always asks me where I’ve traveled to, and we talk about it. And he told me he’s scared that he has to see people all day long and he doesn’t know when he’s going to get the virus. And he’s just worried. He doesn’t want to speak about it out loud.

NELUFAR: Things are changing every day with coronavirus. Our understanding of what it is and who it affects and how to stay safe. The news around this crisis is evolving so quickly it’s mind-boggling. It makes sense that people are nervous. And those nerves? They can be contagious.

I called my sister, Fatima, to tell her about the grocer. But instead, she had a story for me. 

FATIMA:
So I was in the pharmacy, and I’m collecting my prescription and I’m looking for vitamin C for mum. And some woman comes in, and she’s looking for obviously hand sanitizer. And she goes, “Oh great, how much is that?” And it’s a tiny bottle, like those ones that are usually like £1, £1.50.

NELUFAR: Yeah.

FATIMA: So they said, “£12.50,” and I was just like, “Jesus Christ, here it is. Price gouging at its finest.”

NELUFAR: That takes the biscuit. It’s outrageous! My sister told her not to buy it, to just wash her hands with regular soap instead. And the pharmacy staff got really upset with her blocking their 12-fold increased sale.

FATIMA: And they were like, “Oh, you can’t do that.” I was like, “What, what can’t I do? Can I not speak? Is it not a free country? Can I not speak?

NELUFAR: That’s disgusting. That’s disgusting. That is —

NELUFAR and FATIMA: — disgusting. 

FATIMA: And they were literally not going to give me my prescription.

NELUFAR: Then, while the rest of us are learning to stay home, Fatima tells me about her friend who has to go into work.

FATIMA: She’s a solicitor. And she works for, on behalf of, like really vulnerable people. 

[NELUFAR SIGHS]

NELUFAR: This is what’s so confusing to me. Like, I don’t know, this virus is getting into our heads. I think it’s bringing out the best in us and the worst in us. Like your friend, the solicitor, working with vulnerable people, going into work when she shouldn’t. And then this guy in a pharmacy withholding your medication because you told an old lady not to buy a £12 bottle of sanitizer, that’s like —

FATIMA: — £1 on a good, on a normal day. 

NELUFAR: I don’t know, man. I don’t know. Everything’s changing so fast.

[PERCUSSIVE SYNTHESIZER MUSIC]

NELUFAR: Usually on Course Correction, we look at one big global problem… and meet the people who are actively working to fix it. 

This week, we interrupt our usual programming to try to look ahead and understand what the impact of the COVID-19 virus is going to be on all of us.

I’m Nelufar Hedayat, and I have been practicing social distancing for 12 days. Over the past couple of months, the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has swept across the globe, ignoring borders, nationality, religion, class. It’s affecting all of us. And each day, the number of infected people grows. 

Individuals and governments alike are trying to figure out how to keep this virus contained, or how to flatten the curve of new infections and deaths. There’s a lot of talk about the medical impact of the virus, but in this episode I want to ask some bigger questions.

How will the virus impact our globalized world? Who’s going to pay the price of the decisions we are making right now? How will the world be different two years from now?

So I decided to hop on the phone with a couple of my Doha Debates favorites. I last spoke to Dr. Parag Khanna during our Doha Debates about globalization, which you can find on YouTube. Parag is a data-based strategist who specializes in international relations. He’s based in Singapore, and has written loads of books on global networks. 

Dr. Jason Hickel is an anthropologist at the University of London. He studies global inequality, and we first met at our Doha Debate about the global obsession with economic growth. We talked on Thursday, the 19th of March.

NELUFAR: So Jason, let me, let me just come to you first. Like, just tell me what’s been going on in your life, where you live, how it’s been like back home. Like, what has your experience with this whole COVID thing been up until now?

JASON HICKEL: Whoa. It’s been a complete disaster so far. So I’m based in London, and the UK government has been really slow to act on this. I mean, we had clear evidence from China back in January about what was going on, and we could have taken strong preventative measures then, just like other East Asian countries did. Completely failed to do so. Mostly because the objective at the time for the government was to avoid any potential harm to GDP growth, right. And to the stock market. And so they refused to take the measures that they knew would work against this virus, and now we’re stuck with what’s going to be an utter catastrophe on the scale of Italy or, or perhaps worse, given the amount of time they’ve wasted.

So there’s an incredible amount of frustration with the government. There’s a real sense that they’ve gambled tens of thousands of lives for the sake of protecting the economy. Ultimately, we have an economy that’s organized around GDP growth and not organized around human needs and public health. And I think that’s becoming abundantly clear to everybody.

So there’s that. I think another key thing here is that it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Western neoliberal model of governance is being shown to be farcical and a failure, in comparison to what East Asian countries have been able to accomplish in terms of governance in the public interest, in the interest of public health and protecting human lives.

And so I think this is in some ways, I suppose, the final nail in the coffin of the legitimacy of the neoliberal system in the West. The question is, will we learn from these mistakes or not?

NELUFAR: Right. And, and speaking of East Asian countries, Parag, you recently flew to Singapore. And when you were flying, I was looking at all of these graphs and these charts of how the virus was spreading and how little impact some countries were having and how amazing some countries are dealing with it. But you will literally flying from a country that wasn’t doing very well with dealing with it to Singapore, who’s done really well. Could you talk to me a little bit about that in the context of the virus and the pandemic?

DR. PARAG KHANNA:
You know, I think even within — you know, Asia is a vast region. So here too, it’s hard to generalize. We don’t know how bad the impact is, you know, on a place like India. We have no idea how many cases there are or — and how bad it could get. Same in Pakistan. 

And you know, again — so Asia is very vast. In some countries, the wealthy ones with good governments — South Korea, Taiwan, you know, Hong Kong, China, Singapore — have countered this rapidly. Others, you know, it’s still too soon to tell. So I don’t want to generalize too much. The fact that the virus spreads so fast is a, you know, an important reminder of how rapidly, you know, connected, how connected we are, and how rapidly, obviously, you know, dynamics, phenomena, can flow among us. You know, you can’t be so sure that everything is going to be fine in Japan or Korea or Singapore next week. You really can’t, because all of our economies are relatively open. Singapore wants to go back to business, and that means the business of this country is letting people in.

And so, you know, it’s, it’s — we’re nowhere near the stage where we can confidently say, even though this felt like the tone that we were all kind of taking in the beginning of this conversation, that, you know, Asia has done it right and the West needs to learn. I mean, sure, tactically, no question. You know, and from a philosophical standpoint of what type of government is working the hardest for its people — yes, we can say that. But, you know, are we all really spared right now in, in these few countries that are looking like role models? You know, no one is quite that confident just yet. It’s too soon to say that.

JASON: Yeah, I think the one, you know, one interesting observation to make here is that we have a global capitalist system that allows goods and capital to move around the world really quickly and easily, right? And that’s been great for the purposes of capital accumulation, but it’s not been great for people who have been hurt by this for the past 40 years, right. And what’s becoming clear now is that if we’re going to have a globalized system like this, we also need globalized systems of protection for people.

So that means we need to have robust public health care service services everywhere. We need to make sure that there’s access to the kinds of vaccines and drugs and treatments that we’re going to need for this kind of thing, etc. You can’t have it both ways. And I think that what’s becoming clear now is that if we want to have a globalized system, we need globalized systems of protection for people. And I think that’s what we need to be calling for.

NELUFAR: Things are changing by the day, but Jason, is there a North and South divide? Is, is the West, or the global north, as we call it, going to be experiencing coronavirus differently to the South and places like Africa or Latin America, or poorer countries in Middle East and Asia?

JASON: Yeah, that’s a good question. So as I’ve pointed out, the sort of the flaws and the kind of neoliberal response in the U.S. and the UK — people instantaneously want to say, “OK, so what are you trying to say? We need an authoritarian dictatorship like China, effectively?” Right? And, and, and the fact that, in their minds, the opposite of neoliberalism is authoritarian dictatorship just demonstrates how deeply you know, neoliberal ideology has wormed its way into our minds. Because there are clear alternatives, like again, the social democracy model of Scandinavia. And really, like in East Asia, that’s effectively what’s going on as well. It’s really about a governance system that pays attention to the public interest?

NELUFAR: The point Jason is making here is such an important one that I want to take a few moments and focus on it. As nations grapple with how to tackle a world after coronavirus, we have to make sure that we’re not just measuring success in dollars or pounds, yen or GDP, but in the public’s access to health, welfare, education and its resilience. Jason is saying that we not only have to stop looking at stock market points, but start looking at ways to shore up the health of our communities and society at large.  

JASON: We don’t know how this is going to play out in the global south yet. In South Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, it could be utterly devastating, given that they have very little health care capacity and a lot of poverty, OK. Now, crucially — and this is such an important point — during the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, the vast majority of countries in the global south, in the post-colonial era, were in the process of implementing the kind of developmentalist, social policy-oriented reforms that have led East Asian countries to be what they are today, OK. They were then, in the ’80s and ’90s, prevented from doing so, and even had those reforms reversed by structural adjustment programs imposed by the World Bank and the IMF. So you had public health care systems slashed. You had education systems slashed. You had public spending slashed.

And so the tragedy that may end up savaging the global south will be, as I see it, a direct consequence of the forced imposition of neoliberal policy across the South during the ’80s and ’90s by the World Bank and the IMF. And there’s going to have to be a reckoning there. So I think what’s clear here is that these two different models for the South diverge significantly. There’s the structural adjustment model, that has been the kind of Washington consensus approach to developments, and then there’s the social policy developmentalist approach of the East Asian countries. And now it is abundantly clear which one is better.

NELUFAR: So Parag, let me come to you then. What, what can we expect this global pandemic — how is this going to sort of shift and shape the power dynamics between wealthy countries and poor countries?

PARAG: I think, you know, in a crisis like this reminds us that even though we have these global problems, we don’t really have global solutions in the sense of the international institutions that we look to. They don’t really have global scale resources. You know, the World Health Organization certainly does not. The United Nations certainly does not. The World Bank does not. That’s really a myth. So, you know, a lot of countries are basically on their own here, which is why we see a lot of just these bilateral arrangements. Like, if China can fly you a whole bunch of ventilators and masks, take the ventilators and masks.

NELUFAR: Let’s look at the U.S. and let’s look at Britain and bits of Europe. There are still huge wealth gaps and inequalities in these highly developed wealthy countries. How is COVID-19 going to affect that? I mean, is this going to affect rich people the same way as it’s going to affect poor people?

JASON: Yeah, that’s a tricky question, actually. So clearly, the reality of inequality in countries like the UK in the U.S. is one of the main reasons why they’re actually facing the problem they are right now, right? Part of that has to do with, like, a systemic underinvestment in public health infrastructure. But the other part is that you have so many people on basically zero-hour contracts, gig economy jobs, who have been unable to follow public health advice and self-isolate because their incomes would collapse and they would have no way of surviving. Right? So, so to run an economy in such a way that people can’t protect themselves from a dangerous crisis like this puts everybody at risk. And I think that what’s clear is that we need robust universal systems that, you know — universal sick pay, unemployment insurance that’s widespread and ends to zero-hour contracts, you know, and wage support for people that can’t go to work. Things like that. Like that becomes essential to the kind of solidarity that you need to sort of withstand a crisis like this. So I think that’s one key lesson here. 

As far as what impact this will have on inequality — because what we’re seeing is that, there’s effectively — like, with a stock market crash, there’s effectively a disaccumulation of capital happening. And that will have interesting repercussions, I think, for the way our societies look like in the aftermath of this. It could be that we see a significant reduction in inequality as a consequence. But it’s difficult to say, because it all depends on the political response. Like if you have governments that decide to bail out markets and to bail out corporations, like airlines and oil companies and so on, then maybe some of that effect will be mitigated.

PARAG: I mean, so, you know, statistical inequality is, you know, doggedly, you know, difficult to bring down. And even though there’s been a wealth destruction on paper — you know, say Jeff Bezos loses $10, $15 billion, or, you know, Bill Gates and whatever, you know, paper wealth — but the measures, the fiscal measures, and then you’re obviously right that — oh, suddenly the money is there to offer, you know, a payroll tax, abatement, or your tax cuts, and you know, helicopter money, $1,000 here, $1,000 there for people. That’s extremely important, like especially because, as you’re rightly pointing out, Jason, these are people who definitely, definitely need it. And it’s the difference between, you know, covering rent for a couple of months versus becoming homeless.

So this is no joke. Remember that this crisis basically comes on top of the financial crisis from which many people never really recovered in, in the U.S. in particular, and also parts of Europe. But when it comes to like actually bringing down inequality, it’s not clear, right? Because at the end of the day, it’s, it’s not really that much money. You know, because if you think about it, let’s say people just spent the cash minimally and just paid down their debt. You know, in countries where household debt is extraordinarily high, like in the U.S., the money that they spend on reducing their debt, if at all, isn’t going to impact, you know, their net worth or their income — or at least it will impact your net worth, but it won’t impact their income enough to change inequality. Right? So what we need to be going for is reducing poverty, right? We need to be giving people access to opportunity, giving them more disposable income, allowing them to earn enough so that they can actually save. And then you really, you raise the floor, right? You may not be lowering the ceiling. You may not be reducing inequality in a meaningful, numerical way, but you’re definitely making people’s lives better if you undertake measures that genuinely reduce inequality and the insecurity and vulnerability of those people who don’t have any financial stability. And that ultimately, to me, is the highest kind of goal that we can, you know, strive toward.

NELUFAR: I’m just going to bring this back to my little house in Walthamstow, London, OK. ’Cause I’m going to speak about this from my personal experience. My neighbor next door, she’s in a high-risk category, she’s got underlying health issues as well. I worry for her every bloody day. I worry for her every day. I’m worried when I hear her door ring, I’m worried when I think someone’s gone inside, I’m worried that she’s going to get this, the virus, and it’s going to affect her. And she has no one to look after her. She has no family, she has nothing. So this virus is changing us on a personal level, on a behavioral level, and it’s changing us as communities. I want to just spend just a little time hearing about how you might have changed personally. Like, has this, has COVID-19 made you a better person? Has it made you a more skeptical or scared or neurotic person?

Like how is it affecting us as people, as people who need one another? We, you know, we need human contact. We need to be around each other. And this is the first time I’ve experienced a situation where me being near someone can hurt them. I mean, it’s a bit of a mind game to say the least.

PARAG: Well, I mean, I guess I can just say for myself, I mean to someone who’s used to kind of traveling every day, you know, and taking it for granted — now, those are things that we just won’t take for granted anymore. I want to make, you know, I know you want it to kind of get personal responses, but I will say something more broadly, because right now people are saying, “Well, this changes everything, and look at how everyone is kind of grounded, you know?” I mean, the whole world is kind of standing still for a little while. Coming out of this, though, you know, a lot of people are going to say, “Why do I live in this red zone? You know, why do I live — let’s bring it back to the politics — why do I live in a country where, you know, I pay taxes and I make sacrifices and there is no good medical care. And I don’t even see that my government has learned from this experience. I’m getting out of here.” So I actually think that there’s going to be a lot more attempts, you know, for those who can afford to, those who have the savings, those who have the skills, you know, the right passport, whatever the case may be. People are going to want to get out of the countries that have let them down. So yes, right now the world is at a standstill. But we’re going to see a reorganization, or re-sorting, of the population in many parts of the world. And that is going to be a structural thing. So, you know, even if we’re lucky and this proves to just be a kind of, you know, an episode that lasts a year or two, I think you’re going to see 10 years or 15 years worth of change in kind of population distribution as a result of this.

NELUFAR: So almost like COVID virus refugees, people who are just — or people who see themselves as, as this being the major motivator to leave.

PARAG: Oh, no question about it.

JASON: Yeah. It’s funny you say that, because just the other day I was thinking, I’ve been in this country, in the UK, for eight years now, and, and yeah, it’s not a place that I am happy about staying in the long term now that it’s clear how dangerous it is, right. On the other hand, not everybody has the luxury of leaving. I mean, I would gladly take a job in Singapore now if you want to hook me up. 

[LAUGHS]

JASON: But not everyone has the luxury of leaving. And I think that we really do have to fight battles to restore progressive social policy in these countries that are letting us down.

So my, you know, my partner is a, she’s a doctor and she works in the front line of the NHS, and I am worried sick about her every day. And I feel a deep anger, a really deep anger, at the abrogation of ethical duty that the government has to protect health care workers. You know, they’ve savaged the NHS with brutal austerity cuts. Hospital capacity is low. ICU capacity is low. It’s going to be an utter catastrophe. And they’re throwing health care workers to the front line like cannon fodder, without even protective gear. It’s mad, actually, if you look at — like, in East Asian countries, medical workers get full hazmat suits with respirators. Here in the NHS, right — this is one of the richest countries in the world — and they have flimsy surgical masks and little plastic aprons. Virtually no protection at all. And people are absolutely terrified and feel utterly betrayed. And so that, you know — it’s difficult for me to see, with the level of betrayal that people feel here, it’s difficult for me to see that the Johnson government will be able to ride out the fallout from this. I think there will be a reckoning. People will call for reparations. There’s going to be tens of thousands of avoidable deaths, and that will have radical political ramifications. So let’s see what happens in the wake of that, but hopefully a better society can emerge. But it will be through a long and difficult process.

NELUFAR: COVID-19 and this virus is having a huge impact on growth and production. The world seems to be standing still, as it were, when it comes to manufacturing, putting harmful emissions out into the atmosphere, and how industry is progressing as being affected as well. Keeping in mind that the financial system is almost like on a non-negotiable slide downward, how has this affecting manufacturing, how is this affecting the global production system? And in turn, how is that affecting the environment? Like, it seems to me one of the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak is that there are places on Earth that are finally getting a chance to breathe. Like it’s, it’s, it’s a weird one. So Jason, what do you think about it?

JASON: So there is a really tight relationship between GDP growth and ecological impacts, OK. So the more we grow our economies, the more energy and materials that we use, the more fossil fuels we use, then the more that drives climate change, and the more it drives other forms of ecological breakdown — deforestation, overfishing, pollution, etc. etc.

So ecological economists, for a long time, have argued that if we want to have any decent chance of meeting our climate goals and ecological goals, then we’re going to have to abandon GDP growth as an objective in high-income nations, and shift to post-growth economies — economies that can deliver flourishing a human lives without the need for endless growing industrial activity. So what we’re seeing now is that they’re being proved right, right? Like, as the global economy slows down, then we’re seeing the planet to begin to regenerate in interesting kinds of ways. Now, we definitely shouldn’t think of a crisis as necessary to do that. Like we don’t want to see people’s lives hurt in order for ecosystems to recover. But there are important lessons here that a lot of industrial activity and high-income nations is effectively unnecessary. It’s deeply wasteful, and we can get rid of some of that and still live flourishing lives, still have access to robust social goods, and at the same time, meet our climate and ecological objectives.

Now we know that we can do that in ways that don’t hurt people. Like, for example, you can shorten the working week to a three-day weekend. So you redistribute necessary labor amongst the population. Everybody has access to a job, and to a livelihood.

NELUFAR: So here’s the thing — like this, this COVID-19 situation is going to have a huge effect on us in terms of how we organize, and how we choose to — it’s an opportunity here to do things differently. Parag, what do you think?

PARAG: It is an opportunity to, you know — I mean, this is one of several inflection points. I mean, you know, again, sort of as with the buildup to this virus and various other, you know, catastrophes, whether it’s the financial crisis or the — obviously the huge toll that natural disasters have been taking — you would like to think that we would have already made this turn, you know. And, and is this the straw that breaks the camel’s back in a good way, so to speak? And these, these psychological and political shifts. I don’t know. I mean, the two words that you’re hearing the least the last couple of weeks are “climate change,” right? It suddenly is — if it doesn’t exist, if everyone’s just focused on the virus, as if, you know, all of these things aren’t necessarily connected in an underlying way. Now I would like to see everything that Jason said come true. No doubt about it. And some might say, “Well, this is now going to happen accidentally, you know, the economy is going to be hurt so badly that there’ll be less production simply because people are going to be buying less things, whether it’s, you know, automobiles or clothing.”

And so you could say, again, that’s a potential sort of silver lining. But let’s be clear that the climate is not dividing, subdividing, our emissions by whether it came from, you know, X number of flights this year and Y number of flights last year. And those things matter, but I think we also have to appreciate the absolute hyper complexity of the global environment. Which is to say that, you know, emissions are coming from many sources. Now again, we should still be doing all the things we can do, but the truth is that when it comes to, you know, climate change and moving towards these new economic models that Jason is rightly pointing to, we probably still have to do about 50 times more than we are doing if we want to take full advantage of this wake-up call to translate that awakening or enlightenment into genuinely making a difference on climate change.

NELUFAR: ’Cause this is what I see: You’re both like professors and doctors and stuff, and that’s really cool. But I’m just, I’m just a person with a microphone. And what I can see is the amount that our governments — these are people we elect, OK, in one form or another. In the UK, in America — these are people that we elect — the way that we have been able to tackle this virus with all its successes and all its many, many failures, the amount of money we’ve been able to pump into things like the stock exchange and financial institutions is astonishing to me. My silver lining in the way that I see it, is that when human beings want to make a difference, when we want to change something, we do have enormous capability of doing it. When we want to, human beings are capable of doing extraordinary things. So, Jason, I know your partner, as a doctor, is on the literal front line and brutal end of this, but I can only just think of the courage it takes to wake up in the morning and continue to go to work. And that’s the kind of courage and amazing capacity that I think I’m seeing all around me, and I hope we continue to see. So just looking around you, and the fact that everyone’s world has become so much smaller, I guess it brings things into focus. What do you have hope for? What gives you hope in this moment?

PARAG: Well, you know, here’s something I’ve been kind of playing around with, and I put a tweet out of it about it today, hoping people will come up with examples for me. I mean, I cannot think of another instance in history where so quickly you can have a global collective response. And I don’t mean the nations of the world condemning the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I’m talking about, you know, 8 billion autonomous agents, right, simultaneously doing something. And again, we didn’t quite achieve that this time, but we — again, we got palpably close.

And I’m just wondering if this would be the first time in history where any such thing has been proven to be, has proved to be achievable or within reach, because that would give me a lot of hope.

NELUFAR: Wow. Jason?

JASON: Yeah, for me, I think it’s — I think what gives me hope is the fact that so many things are becoming thinkable suddenly. So we’ve talked about like the kinds of social policies that are now suddenly thinkable and desirable. But, but also in terms of our necessary response to the climate crisis, we know that we need a Green New Deal, and we know that Green New Deals require all sorts of strict government policy to happen.

And suddenly governments are discovering that they have the power to do that, right? Because we’re seeing them requisition factories and repurpose factories and use price controls and rationing and zero-interest borrowing. And, you know, nationalization, etc. etc., to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

And so we know they have the, you know, those that have those exact same powers that they could also use to respond to the climate crisis. And so, hopefully now that we are cognizant, that we’re aware of that fact, it’ll be easier, easier for us to use those tools in the coming years.

NELUFAR: Absolutely. There is, there is — we have capacity for change. That’s what we do best as people. OK guys, thank you so much. I won’t take up any more of your time. I’m very, very grateful to you. Thank you for making this happen.

JASON: Thanks, Nel.

PARAG: Delighted, delighted to speak with you.

NELUFAR: Like I said earlier, things are changing every day when it comes to the coronavirus. Since I spoke to Dr. Jason and Dr. Parag, my home country of the United Kingdom has completely shut down. We can only leave our houses for essentials — groceries and medical appointments. The conversation you just heard is about the long-term changes and global effects of the coronavirus, but my world, at least, feels a little smaller today. These are challenging times and we have to face them together.  

That’s our show for today. And now I want to hear about you. What’s happening in your town today? How are you coping with this pandemic and the changes it’s brought?

A lot of my questions in this episode were inspired by all of yours, so thank you for sending them in. We are, as always, on Twitter at @DohaDebates, and I’m @nelufar. 

[CREDITS]

Course Correction is written and hosted by me, Nelufar Hedayat. The show is produced by Doha Debates and Transmitter Media. Doha Debates is a product of Qatar Foundation. 

And a special thanks to our team at Doha Debates — Japhet Weeks, Amjad Atallah and Jigar Mehta. If you like what you hear, please rate the show and tell me what you think in the reviews. It helps other people find us. Join us for the next episode of Course Correction wherever you get your podcasts.