Imagine that we are in 2050, looking back at the origin and evolution of the coronavirus pandemic over the past three decades. Extrapolating recent events, we offer the following scenario for this vision the future.
As we enter the second half of the 21st century, we are finally able to interpret the directions of the origin and impact of the coronavirus that hit the world in 2020 a systemic evolutionary perspective. Today, in 2050, looking back over the past 30 years of turmoil on our home planet, it seems obvious that Earth has taken on the task of teaching our human family a lesson. The planet showed us the primary importance of understanding our situation whole systems, identified by some visionary thinkers as early as the mid-19th century. This greater human consciousness revealed how the planet actually works, with its living biosphere extracting power systemically the daily flow of photons our mother star, the sun.
Ultimately, this expanded awareness helped to separate cognitive limitations and the mistaken assumptions and ideologies behind the twentieth-century crises. False theories about human progress and development, measured in a shortsighted way based on prices and metrics based only on money, such as GDP, culminated in increasing social and environmental losses: air, water and land pollution, destruction biological diversity and loss of ecosystem functions, all exacerbated by global warming, rising sea levels and gigantic climate change.
These short-sighted policies also generated social collapse, inequality, poverty, mental and physical illnesses, addictions, loss of confidence in institutions (including the media, academia and science itself) and also a reduction in community solidarity. They also sparked 21st century pandemics: SARS, MERS, AIDS, influenza and the many coronaviruses that emerged in 2020.
During the last decades of the 20th century, humanity had exceeded the Earth's regenerative capacity. The human family had grown to reach 7.6 billion individuals in 2020 and continued the same obsession with economic, corporate and technological growth that had started the growing existential crisis that threatened the mere survival of humanity. By fueling this excessive growth with fossil fuels, humanity had warmed the atmosphere to such an extent that the United Nations Organization (UN) climate science consortium, the IPCC, noted in its 2020 that humanity had only ten more years to reverse this crisis situation.
In 2000, all means were available: we had the necessary knowledge and we had already developed efficient renewable technologies and cyclical economic systems based on the ecological principles of nature. In 2000, patriarchal societies were losing control over female populations due to the forces of urbanization and education. Women themselves had begun to take control over their bodies, and fertility rates had started to plummet even before the turn of the 21st century. Widespread revolts against the economic model of globalization, imposed the top down, and its dominant male elites led to the collapse of the unsustainable route of development based on fossil fuels, nuclear power, militarism, profit, greed and egocentric leadership.
Military budgets, which had suppressed the health and education resources needed for human development, were gradually redirected tanks and battleships to cheaper and less violent wars based on information. At the beginning of the 21st century, the international dispute for power was more focused on social advertising, persuasion technologies, infiltration and global control of the Internet.
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic disputed priorities in medical establishments with victims in emergency rooms, whether they were victims of gunshot wounds or patients with other conditions that threatened their survival. In 2019, a movement of school students across the United States had teamed up with medical professionals to protest against arms violence, which they saw as a public health crisis. It did not take long for stricter arms control laws to emerge, accompanied by the boycott of pension funds on arms manufacturers and the ensuing weakening of arms lobbyists. In many countries, weapons were repurchased their owners by the government and destroyed, as was the case in Australia in the 20th century. This led to a huge drop in global arms sales, a phenomenon accompanied by international laws that required annual licenses and high cost insurance owners, while global taxation reduced costly corridors.
of armaments seen in previous centuries. Today, conflicts between nations are largely governed by international treaties and transparency. In 2050, conflicts rarely involve military resources - they migrated to Internet advertising, espionage and cyber wars.
In 2020, these revolts brought to light all the problems underlying human societies: racism and ignorance, through conspiracy theories, xenophobia and the “other” as a scapegoat, until reaching various cognitive pre-dispositions, such as technological determinism , theoretical-based blindness and a fatal and common error of understanding that confused money with wealth. Money, as we all know today, was a useful invention: currencies are simply social protocols (physical or virtual trust markers) that operate on social platforms with a network effect, whose prices fluctuate according to the level of use and confidence of their many users. Still, countries and elites around the world were dazzled by the money and gambling in the “global financial casino”, further stimulating the seven deadly sins at the expense of traditional values such as cooperation, sharing, mutual help and the ethics of reciprocity.
Scientists and environmental activists had warned of the dire consequences of these unsustainable societies and backward value systems for decades, but until the 2020 pandemic, political and corporate leaders, as well as other elites, had stubbornly resisted these warnings. Once unable to break away the drunken state derived political power and financial profit, their own citizens forced them to redirect the focus to the well-being and survival of humanity and the community of life. The fossil industries struggled to maintain subsidies and tax exemptions in all countries as the price of oil and gasoline plummeted, but they no longer had the same capacity to buy political favors and support for their privileges. It required the global reaction of millions of young people, “root environmentalists” and indigenous peoples who understood the systemic processes of our planet Gaia - an autonomously regulated and organized biosphere that, for billions of years, had managed all planetary evolution without interference cognitively limited human beings.
In the early years of our 20th century, Gaia responded unexpectedly, as he had done so many times during the long history of evolution. Humans have cleared wide areas of tropical forests and massively intruded into other ecosystems around the world, fragmenting these self-regulating ecosystems and fracturing the web of life. One of the many consequences of these destructive actions was that some viruses that until then lived in symbiosis with certain animal species "jumped" those species to others and then to the human body, they were very toxic or even deadly. People many countries and regions, marginalized by limited profit-driven economic globalization, mitigated their hunger by eating wild animals these newly exposed regions, killing monkeys, wild cats, skunks, rodents and bats to use them as additional sources. of protein. These wild species, carrying various viruses, were also sold alive in "fresh markets", further exposing urban populations to new viruses.
In the 1960s, for example, an obscure virus jumped out of a rare species of monkey used to feed humans in West Africa. there it spread to the United States, it was identified as the HIV virus and caused the AIDS epidemic. Over four decades, it has caused the death of an estimated 39 million people around the world, about 0.5 percent of the world population. Four decades later, the impact of the coronavirus was rapid and dramatic. In 2020, the virus jumped a species of bat to humans in China, it spread rapidly across the world, leaving an estimated 50 million dead in a single decade and thus wiping out the world's population.
the privileged point of view of 2050, we can look back at this sequence of viruses: SARS, MERS and the global impact of the various coronavirus mutations that started in 2020. These pandemics ended up being stabilized, in part through the strict prohibition of “living markets ”Across China in 2020. This ban was replicated by other countries and global markets, ending the wildlife trade and reducing vectors. At the same time, public health systems, preventive care and the development of effective vaccines and medicines have been improved.
The basic lessons for humans in these tragic 50 years of self-inflicted global crises - the martyrdoms of pandemics, flooded cities, burning forests, droughts and other increasingly violent climatic disasters - were simple, many based on the discoveries of Charles Darwin and other biologists of the 19th and 20th centuries:
- We humans are a species with very little variety of DNA.
- We evolved alongside other species in the planet's biosphere through natural ion, responding to changes and disturbances in our various environments and habitats.
- We are a global species, which migrated the African continent to all others, competing with other species and leading several of them to extinction.
- Our planetary colonization and our success in the 21st century Anthropocene Era was due in large part to our ability to get closer, cooperate, share and evolve in increasingly larger populations and organizations.
- Humanity grew out of wandering groups of nomads and began to live in static agricultural villages, then in small towns, then in the large metropolises of the 20th century, more than 50% of our population lived. Until the climate crisis and the pandemics of the first years of the 21st century, all forecasts pointed to the growth of these metropolises and a human population of 10 billion today, in 2050.
We now know why human populations reached their peak of 7.6 billion in 2030, as predicted in the most optimistic scenario of the IPCC, as well as in global urban surveys conducted by social scientists documenting declining fertility in Empty Planet (2019). Up-to-date “root environmentalists” with new knowledge, crowds of school students, ecologists around the world and empowered women have joined with more ethical and nature-conscious investors and entrepreneurs to make markets more local. Millions of consumers are now served by small network cooperatives powered by renewable energy. Added to these are corporate ventures around the world that, even in 2012, employed more people than all for-profit companies combined. These companies no longer used false metrics guided by money or GDP: as of 2015, they started to guide their activities according to UN guidelines, the set of 17 sustainability and regeneration goals for all ecosystems and human health.
These new social metrics and goals always focused on cooperation, sharing and wiser ways of human development, using renewable resources and maximizing efficiency. Long-term sustainability, if distributed equally, benefits all members of the human family based on a logic of tolerance towards other species in our biosphere. Competition and creativity flourish with good ideas, making less useful ones obsolete, and go hand in hand with ethical standards based on science, qualifying information in more self-sufficient and connected societies at all levels, local to global.
When the coronavirus first appeared in 2020, the first human responses were chaotic and insufficient at first, but they soon became more cohesive and changed dramatically. Global trade has shrunk, limited to the transport of rare goods and migrating to the exchange of information. Instead of sending cakes, candies and cookies one point to another on the planet, we started to send their recipes, as well as other recipes to create plant-based foods and drinks. At the local level, we implement ecological technologies: sources of solar, wind and geothermal energy, LED lighting, vehicles, boats and even electric aircraft.
Fossil fuel reserves remained safely underground, as carbon was seen as too precious a resource to be burned. The excess CO2 in the atmosphere the burning of fossil fuels was captured by organic soil bacteria, deep-rooted plants, billions of newly planted trees and in a general rebalancing of human food systems, hitherto supported in agribusiness, in the biochemical industries, in the advertising and global trade of a few vegetables monoculture. This hyperdependence on fossil fuels , pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics in diets based on the meat of animals raised in captivity depended on the waning reserves of drinking water and proved unsustainable. Today, in 2050, our food is produced locally, including many native and wild vegetables, salt water agriculture and other salt-related food plants (halophytes), whose whole proteins are healthier for human diets.
Mass tourism - and travel in general - has undergone a radical downturn, as well as air traffic and the obsolete use of fossil fuels. Communities around the world have stabilized in small or medium-sized population centers, which have become quite self-sufficient thanks to local and regional food and energy production. The use of fossil fuels practically disappeared, because even in 2020 it was no longer able to compete with the accelerated development of renewable energy sources and the corresponding new technologies, nor with the reuse of resources, previously wasted, for a circular economy that we have today .
Due to the risk of infections in large agglomerations, sweat shops, large chain stores and sporting or entertainment events in large arenas have gradually disappeared. Democratic politicians became more rational, as demagogues could no longer gather thousands of people to listen to them at their great rallies. His empty promises were also restrained by social media after the breakdown of these profit-oriented monopolies in 2025; today, in 2050, they are regulated as public utilities, serving the public good in all countries.
The global casino on the financial markets has collapsed, and economic activity has shifted the financial sector to credit unions and public banks, giving rise to the collaborative sectors we know today. The manufacture of goods and our service-based economies have rescued barter, informal volunteering and local currencies, as well as a number of non-monetary transactions that emerged at the height of the pandemic. As a result of great decentralization and the growth of self-sustaining communities, the 2050 economy is less extractive and more regenerative, and the income gaps and inequality of profit-obsessed exploitation models have largely disappeared.
By bringing global markets into bankruptcy, the 2020 pandemic finally brought down the ideology of money and market fundamentalisms. Central bank tools were no longer working, so helicopter money and direct payments in kind to needy families, of which Brazil was a pioneer, became the only means to maintain purchasing power and smooth the orderly economic transition for sustainable societies. This led European and American politicians to create new money. These stimulus policies replaced “austerity” and were soon invested in all renewable infrastructure resources in their respective Green New Deal plans.
When the coronavirus spread to domestic animals, cattle and other ruminants, sheep and goats, some of these animals became carriers of the disease without showing any symptoms. Consequently, the killing and consumption of these species has plummeted worldwide. Pastures and industrial animal husbandry accounted for almost 15% of global emissions of greenhouse gases each year. The large multinational meat-producing corporations were identified by skilled investors as a new set of “idle assets”, in the wake of fossil fuel companies. Some redirected their entire structure to plant-based foods with various analogues of meat, fish and cheese. Steaks became very expensive and rare, and cows became the property of families, as the old tradition, on small farms for the production of milk, cheese and meat, as well as chicken eggs.
After expensive and subsidized pandemic vaccines were developed, global travel was allowed only with current vaccination certificates, used mainly by merchants and wealthy people. Now most of the world population prefers the pleasures of community, meetings and virtual communication, as well as local trips with public transport, electric cars and the sailboats driven by the wind and sunlight that we love so much. As a result, the air population has dropped dramatically in all major cities in the world.
With the growth of self-sustaining communities, so-called “urban villages” emerged in many cities - refurbished neighborhoods that combine high-density structures with large common green areas. These areas foster significant energy savings and a healthier, safer environment geared to the needs of the community, with very low levels of pollution.
The ecological cities of today and include food produced in buildings with solar terraces, vegetable gardens and electric public transport, as automobiles were largely banned urban streets in 2030. The streets were claimed by pedestrians, cyclists and people on small motorcycles that wander around commercial establishments in small stores, galleries of self-employed professionals and markets it is possible to buy directly the producer. Solar electric vehicles for intercity trips usually discharge their batteries at night to supply electricity for single-family homes. Free-to-use chargers for solar vehicles are available in all regions, reducing the use of fossil-based electricity obsolete centralized power plants, many of which went bankrupt before 2030.
After all the profound changes that have brought us here, we realize that our lives are now less stressful, healthier and more satisfying. Today, our communities guide their plans for the long-term future. To ensure the sustainability of our new ways of life, we realized that it was crucial to restore ecosystems around the world so that viruses dangerous to human life would remain confined to other species, against which they are harmless. To restore ecosystems worldwide, our global migration to organic and regenerative agriculture has prospered, as have plant-based foods and beverages, foods grown in salt water and dishes with seaweed that we love so much. The billions of trees planted around the world after 2020, as well as improvements in agriculture, have led to the gradual recovery of ecosystems.
As a result of all these changes, the global climate has finally stabilized, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations are now back to 350 parts per million, a safe rate. The rise of the oceans will remain so for a century, and now many cities thrive in safer and higher places. Today, climate catastrophes are rare, although many weather events continue to disrupt our lives, as they did in previous centuries. The many global crises and pandemics caused by our long-standing ignorance of planetary processes and vicious cycles have had tragic and far-reaching consequences for individuals and communities. Still, we humans have learned many painful lessons. Today, in 2050, looking back, we realize that the Earth is our greatest teacher, and its terrible lessons may have saved not only humanity, but many of the living communities that share the planet with us extinction.