2020 will mostly be remembered as the year of the covid-19 pandemic, but so much more served as a harbinger of the doom which lies ahead.
Before delving into the cold virus that had a smash hit worldwide, let’s turn our attention to environmental affairs.
Atmospheric and oceanic temperatures hit highs in 2020 which were surpassed only by 2016, the warmest year on record. Pollution from industry, traffic, and wasteful consumerism were temporarily stymied during covid shutdowns, but not enough to make any difference. “Despite the paralysis of many activities caused by covid, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to rise, condemning the planet to further warming,” reported the World Meteorological Organization.
Huge swaths of forest around the world caught fire. Australia, Siberia, and the American West were consumed by wildfires, many of which were sparked by man.
Severe drought afflicted Africa, the US, and other pockets of the planet in 2020. In any other year this dire drying would have caught more attention.
2020 hosted a record-breaking whirlwind of cyclones, with 140 storms wreaking havoc. Total damages were over $66.6 billion dollars. Government-imposed social restrictions to covid epidemics helped raise the death toll in a few nations.
Owing to oceans absorbing the heat, there is an approximate 3- to 4-decade lag between warming greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric hotting up. The polar melt, drought, wildfires, and cyclones of 2020 are just – pardon the pun – a warm-up act.
The covid pandemic got its start in China, where local officials first tried to suppress news of V2, the novel cold virus, until it became obvious that the virus had no intention of being suppressed. In a stunning displace of societal discipline, China instituted severe lockdowns – but far too late to stop V2. Thanks for the pervasiveness of air travel, covid was worldwide before anyone knew it.
V2 is saltational: an evolutionary leap from its parent, V1, which caused the severe disease SARS. Covid was a mild cold at worst for healthy people. Most people infected with V2 did not even know it. It was this surreptitiousness that allowed V2 to conquer the world.
Further, V2 kept evolving to become more contagious – typical of viruses, but not at the breathtaking pace V2 managed.
Alas, the wiliness of V2 made it a litmus test of public health. Covid knocked down and out fat, out-of-shape folk – which comprised the broad majority in Western nations. Covid became a public health crisis only because the public was not in good health – by choice. Pandering to their audience, mainstream media neglected this essential fact in their extensive coverage.
Enough was known of V2 by early spring to have calculated a rational response: expand public health and otherwise ride the pandemic out. There was no possibility of containing covid. Restrictions aimed at doing so could only wreak economic havoc and tear at societal fabrics.
Delusionally thinking that V2 could be outplayed, panic won out and nations clammed up in the spring. The lockdowns and restrictions predictably impoverished workers worldwide. School closures crippled future prospects for a generation of students.
The lockdowns most amply demonstrated that governments have the power to cure societal ills, but simply choose not to. This obvious observation went unremarked in the mainstream press.
Having done his utmost to take the United States from world leader to enfeebled loser, US president Donald Trump once again proved his worthlessness with the domestic covid epidemic. Rather than prepare in any rational way, Americans once again played the fool when it came to covid. In the fall, Americans showed their collective ignorance in an election where Trump still garnered a high level of public support.
The covid pandemic flagged somewhat during the summer. But V2 had prepared well, and managed to maintain its presence despite the warmth – another saltational feature.
With autumn came an even more severe wave of covid, thanks to V2 evolving to be even more contagious. After the economic debacle in the spring, nations were reluctant to shut down again. But stupidity won out again and restrictions were reapplied in most countries.
Authoritarian governments took advantage of the pandemic to tighten their grips and suppress opposition.
In the run-up to the US election, Trump encouraged civil war against liberals who opposed him. Protests against police brutality were – unsurprisingly – brutally suppressed.
The US was not alone in its shocking display of tribality. The covid pandemic highlighted how tribal people were. China got blamed by ignorant Westerners for covid even occurring. The European Union showed its dismal disunity by its failure of coordination or cooperation in its response to covid.
Britain got singled out for first announcing that it had discovered a more contagious variant of V2 coursing through. Within weeks after that announcement, nations worldwide discovered they too had a savvier V2 on the loose.
Worldwide, at least 7 times more people were sickened and died of industrial pollution than covid. But there was no affront against the consequences of capitalism.
A world weakened by its inapt and inept reaction to a mild cold virus fumbles into 2021.
Mass vaccination programs against V2 have begun. By next autumn their worth will show as a covid pandemic again rears up. The distinction will be that the easy kills were already taken in 2020, and V2 may well have evolved to be even milder than it was.
China will continue its ascent as a global power in 2021 as the US tries to pick up the pieces from its dalliance with self-destruction under Trump. Britain will suffer from its departure from the European Union.
The fiscal and economic hangover from the foolish and futile measures to combat covid will haunt governments with mountains of debt and diminished economies. The armies of the out-of-work will cause consternation. By the summer, the rabbit in the hat of bad economic decisions will pop out: inflation will return as a vexation.
More severe weather will once again not persuade the radical action that must be taken if humanity is to survive to the 21st century. Though more lip service may be paid, the self-extinction event will go unaddressed.
2021 is likely to be a sorry successor to 2020.