Our age regards both extinction and immortality as genuine possibilities. Opinions vary wildly depending on whether one asks environmentalists or writers such as Steven Pinker, who tend to see the time as pregnant with unique opportunities, argues Henry Mance. The current pandemic is likely to show us which of the two visions of the world is more plausible, or likely to be the outcome.
Pandemics tend to do this, argues Mance. For instance, though not comparable to covid-19, the Black Death contributed to the end of feudalism and, for its part, the 1918 influenza probably to the establishment of national health services.
Diseases, argues Mance, have had two main effects throughout: they have made us think and brought about major structural changes. For that reason, the pandemic may turn the spotlight not only on excessive air travel, tilting the balance in favour of teleconferencing, China’s live animal markets but also climate change, which needs to worry rich countries more.
Read the full article at the Financial Times here: