Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Konservatism på glid

Så är Trumps tid som president äntligen slut. Angreppet mot Capitolium lyckades inte hindra att Biden blev bekräftad som USAs nästa president. Istället får Trump lämna Washington utan parader och den mediala uppmärksamhet han alltid eftersträvat. 

I sitt installationstal lovade Trump att stoppa "This American carnage". Istället var det just den sortens kaos han själv orsakade när de huliganer som han eggat till attack stormade Capitolium. Den process som kulminerade 6 januari började många år innan Trump tillträdde som president.  Det är en lång utveckling eller snarare medvetet arbete som har skapat den enorma polariseringen av det amerikanska samhället. Det republikanska partiet har i många år drivits allt längre högerut.  Ett sönderbrutet medialandskap med ultrakonservativa talk shows hosts plus FoxNews som propagandakanal har skapat en alternativ verklighet där konspirationsteorier florerar. Genom att driva frågan om abortmotstånd har man också lyckats radikalisera den kristna högern. Detta samtidigt som myten om "American exceptionalism" har fått många att bortse från bristerna i den amerikanska demokratin. Den alltid hyllade konstitutionen är inte uppdaterad för att klara dagens utmaningar. 

Att USA inte har gjort upp med att det är ett land med en grund i rasism, slaveri och våld mot ursprungsbefolkningen är en viktig anledning till det som nu hänt. Många i Sverige som velat förklara Trumps framgångar har bortsett denna rasism med sin grund i Jim Crow-lagar som bara hjälpligt åtgärdades under medborgarrättsrörelsen på 1960-talet. Polisvåld med återkommande dödsskjutningar av svarta skapade Black Lives Matter som en reaktion på denna ojämlikhet och rasism, men har ofta mötts av än mer våld. Det blev uppenbart vid attacken mot Capitolium att brott och straff är relativa begrepp, när vita inhemska terrorister bemöttes helt annorlunda än sommarens BLM-demonstrationer. 

Utvecklingen i USA har varit tydlig för den som velat se. Många har varnat för utvecklingen och på senare år har Sarah Kendzior varit en av de tydligaste rösterna. I boken "Hiding in plain sight" ger hon en tydlig bakgrund till Trumps väg till makten och hur den grundlagts via radikaliseringen av det republikanska partiet i kombination med ren kriminalitet och rysk påverkan. Läs den och lyssna på podden @gaslitnation!

I ljuset av det som hänt i USA behöver vi se vart utvecklingen kan leda oss i Sverige om vi inte tar varningssignalerna om ökande högerextremism på allvar. Med framväxten av Sverigedemokraterna har vi fått ett parti som velat ge Nobels fredspris till Trump och vars ledare fortfarande efter attacken mot demokratin hade velat se en fortsatt Trump-regim vid makten. SD målbild är att skapa en "illiberal demokrati" av Ungersk modell i Sverige. Frågan har varit hur långt ut i periferin  våra mer traditionella högerkonservativa partier som moderaterna (inte längre nya) och KD (kristna bara till namnet) velat vandra i sin rätt misslyckade jakt efter SD-väljare.  Svaret verkar vara att M under ledning av Ulf Kristersson har gått från att lova förintelseöverlevaren Hedi Fried att inte samarbeta med nazister till att nu vara fullt beredd att sätta sig i regering med SD. 

Så vad är det då moderaterna vill förutom att ha makten till snart sagt varje pris? En del av svaret ges i moderaternas nya idéprogram som det refereras i en artikel av Sven-Eric Liedman. Där står saker som att ”Sverige är format av ett kristet socialt och kulturellt arv som sträcker sig mycket långt tillbaka”. Ja, ”Sverige är en av världens äldsta nationalstater”. En trygg familj gör barnen till ”starka vuxna” men individen har också ett ansvar ”för sig själv, sina nära och vårt samhälle”. Ja, individen måste också göra sig ”anställningsbar” och därmed smidigt anpassa sig till den rådande arbetsmarknaden. Arbetslinjen gäller fortfarande.

Det är intressant att ha moderaternas idéprogram i tankarna under en läsning av Jason Stanleys "Facismens metoder". 



Stanley skriver mycket om hur fascistiska ideal drivs av drömmen om det förflutna, en mytisk tid då allt var bättre. "Make America Great Again" var Trumps paroll, men när detta "again" inträffade var oklart, lika dunkelt som det moderata "långt tillbaka". Att prata om hotet från det mångkulturella och främmande har varit budskapet från SD i många år och har allt mer inlemmats i det moderata tankegodset
Men som Stanley skriver, "När vissa grupper utesluts ur gemenskapen hämmas övriga medborgares empatiska förmåga".  En Trump-väljare från Florida som inte var nöjd uttryckte detta tydligt:  He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.


Det hon ville ha var rätten att sparka nedåt, att känna sig lite bättre än andra. Så när det pratas om "ekonomiska" orsaker till att människor röstat på Trump eller SD så måste vi våga skärskåda det argumentet. Om det bara handlar om rätten att behålla sina egna privilegier på bekostnad av andra, finns ingen lösning som innebär att gå dessa åsikter till mötes. De argumenten behöver istället bemötas och liksom trollen tas fram i ljuset. 

Frågan är om M och KD vill låta sig dras åt samma håll som republikanerna i USA, med eller motvilligt? Riskerna är stora, den som försöker rida på tigern tenderar att bli uppäten, något som vi sett nu och sett i historien. Per Svensson refererar i DN till Herbert Tingsten som analyserade Mussolinis väg till makten i boken ”Från parlamentarism till diktatur. Fascismens erövring av Italien”, som gavs ut redan 1930. Tingsten pekade särskilt på hur de italienska liberalerna gav fascismen ”flankbetäckning”, hjälpte till att göra svartskjortorna rumsrena. Tingstens dom var hård: ”De bidrogo härigenom, mer än några andra, att underlätta fascismens slutliga fullständiga seger.”

Självklart finns det tänkande konservativa moderater som har kloka ideér och som jag fullt ut respekterar även när jag inte håller med om deras politik. Men så länge partiets ledning är beredda att sälja sin (eventuella) själ för att nå statsministerposten behöver tyvärr moderaternas demokratiska trovärdighet betvivlas. 


Thursday, 7 January 2021

Lessons from Covid-19 on climate change and politics

We have just said goodbye to 2020, the year that will stay in our collective memories as totally dominated by news about Covid-19. One year on, the pandemic is still raging all over the globe. Luckily, vaccines are starting to be available, at least in the more affluent parts of the world. But we still have a long road to travel before we can achieve something resembling normality. 

The start of a new year is off course a given time to look both back and forward. There has already been many comparisons between the Covid-19 pandemic climate change. Both are global crisis, both require dramatic transformations on both societal and personal level and they are also interlinked in many ways. As Jonathan Foley just recently wrote:

[Science] has warned us that changing environmental conditions were contributing to increasing disease threats. Numerous studies highlighted how infectious diseases could arise form deforestation, habitat and biodiversity loss, wildlife exploitation, the bushmeat and traditional medicine trade, confined animal agriculture and antibiotic misuse.

In the same way as we amplify storms and flooding by adding increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we increase the likelihood  of viruses and bacteria jumping from the animal world as new zoonotic diseases when we destroy natural habitats and push wildlife into close encounter with humans. 

Still, Covid-19 has taught us that huge changes can happen very quickly. The rapid development of Covid vaccines is an example of how open science plus massive collaboration between academic scientists and pharmaceutical companies could create scientific breakthroughs that few thought possible a year ago. It shows the potential of technology to alleviate societal problems. But it also shows that there must be a willingness at all levels of society to heed the scientific advice and accept that facts are more solid than opinions. It doesn't matter if a vaccine can be developed, produced and distributed if in the end no one is around to give the injections and the people that need the vaccines have been so duped by the lies of an authoritarian wannabe dictator that they will refuse the cure. 

One more analogy between climate and Covid is that both will put the worst burden on those who have contributed the least and already are marginalised. Indigenous communities, migrants and people of colour suffer more from climate change and have been more severely hit by the pandemic. Also, people doing the kind of essential work you cannot do in front  of your computer and in the confinement of your home have also suffered hard from the disease. We can not solve climate change without climate justice and long term we can not solve pandemics without healthcare  for all who need it. 

So what can we really learn from Covid-19 when it comes to handling the enormous threats to both our individual health and societal stability if we can not stop global warming? Despite some decreases in the emissions of carbon dioxide during the last year, 2020 will still be the warmest year on instrumental record. When lockdowns are not enough to more than marginally lower emissions, it is clear that we need new ways to handle the climate challenge. To cite @EricHolthaus:

Let me be clear: 2020 wasn’t just a “bad year”, it was what happens when the people in power have spent centuries exploiting others to ensure their own comfort. The uncontrolled coronavirus epidemic wasn’t inevitable, just like the climate emergency wasn’t inevitable. Another world is possible. It won't happen magically. We have to demand it.
The question of personal change vs political and structural changes has been hotly debated among climate activists. We can take great initiatives and be role models as individuals but can only bring on real change together and collectively.  Most importantly we must remember that hope is a verb. It's useless to pray for change, we create hope by action. And we need hope, since as Margaret Atwood puts it: 
We must be a beacon of hope, because if we tell people there is no hope, they will do worse than nothing
We also need to hold on to our values and call out the people who are denying and delaying climate action. In Sweden we coined the term "Flygskam", Flight Shame. Shaming can have some effect and even before the pandemic we saw a marked reduction in both domestic and international flights in Sweden. But in the long run calling for accountability is better than shaming.  And that is because accountability starts at the top with governments and corporations. We need to put pressure on both politicians and business to get action on reducing emissions, not only fair words. The fossil fuel industry and its lackeys will not go away without resistance and they must be hit where it hurts them most, the bottom line of the balance sheet. And those industries that do go for real change must be encouraged and supported. 

However, accountability cannot stay on the top. As we have seen during the pandemic, for some people, the “right” to a great Black Friday deal is deemed so important that they cannot fathom that it may kill their grandmother and neighbour. People have been more concerned over delayed haircuts than the risk of disease and potential death and this behaviour must be called out.  Accountability is also connected with climate justice since the carbon footprint is in no way equally distributed. As an example, when it comes to aviation emissions 1% of travellers contribute more than half of emissions. I have written before that there are a lot of people that needs to be grounded for good

2020 was in many ways a year put on hold. Conferences and graduations, concerts and festivals, weddings and dance lessons all were  cancelled and countries went into different degrees of lockdowns. There is of course a strong longing to regain some kind of normality in our lives.  But climate change has continued unabated and there is no good future if we return to pre-pandemic way of life. Instead, as we enter 2021 it is time to double-down on activism and efforts to turn our fossil-fuelled and consumption bases society around. Because "we can use less energy and still have good lives". 

We also need to have more politicians that embrace and support the shift towards the clear and green economy we need. And here we got some good news today from the senate runoff elections in Georgia USA. Both the senate seats were captured by democratic challengers against republican Trump followers. That was very good news in a traditionally republican southern state and it also means that president-elect Biden will have a far easier path to pursuing his political agenda. Given the strong climate agenda that Biden has promised to enact, this is good news not only for the US but for all of the world. 

The major reason for turning Georgia Blue was the work led by democratic organiser @staceyabrams. She, together with others spent years on the ground organising and encouraging people to vote. That takes persistence, something that @sarahkendzior pointed to in the latest @gaslitnation podcast. And this brings a lesson also for the climate movement. In addition to the activism on the streets there is a need to more actively engage in politics, to make sure that politicians with a green agenda are voted in. There is also a need to have more people themselves taking part in the political process. As the @runforsomething movement states it, "Don't just march, run for something". Because in the long run, we need to transfer activism into budgets, laws and regulations that will steer our societies in a better direction. 

My wish for the coming years is thus that we create hope by getting back the activism shown by #FridaysForFuture and other grass rot organisations (many led by young climate activists). But I also hope that there will be increased political activism, both directed towards present politicians and engaging new people to enter into politics. 

PS

I wrote this before the US Capitol was attacked by terrorist encouraged by president Trump. Just hours earlier I listened to a special edition of @gaslitnation podcast following the democratic win in the #Georgia senate election. @sarahkendzior described the joy of that moment but also how scared she was for todays event in Washingon. Sadly, she was right as so many times before. We still don't know if there will be a peaceful transition to president Biden two weeks from now. It is a scary time US democracy. And it also clear that the US is still in its core a unequal country, just judging from the difference how Trump thugs were treated by police as compared to how #BlackLivesMatter protester have been teargassed, beaten and shot at during last years protest. 


Sunday, 1 November 2020

Forward looking memory

This weekend we have celebrated, or maybe contemplated All Saints Day. It is a time of remembrance and introspection, time to think about those we mourn, whether they are family and close friends or some more public person. She or he can still have made an impact on our lives that we need to remember.


Although the Halloween festivities with orange pumpkins and kids going for tricks or treat have become more popular in recent years, the traditions of All Saints Day are still strong. We venture to the cemeteries, light our candles and watch as hundreds of small flickers of light illuminate the autumn evening. The rustling of falling leaves and the silents steps of people in deep thoughts creates a soundscape to match the candlelights. 


This year I had two candles to light. My father passed away more than a decade ago. But my mother died this spring, in the midst of but not directly from Covid19 infection. It might still be that the pandemic made her life small and boring, thus hastening her withdrawal from this world. 



My mother was more than 94 years old. She has lived through many big upheavals both in her family and in the world at large. Depression times, the Nazi power grab in Germany and  the resulting second World War, followed by peace and mostly prosperity even though the world was still divided. Almost to the end, she was still curious about the future. But climate change for her felt too far off in the future to really engage her. 

Watching my two candles among the many more as dusk set in, I thought a lot about time. If I live to be as old as my mother, I will be around until 2050. 2050, so far away or maybe not. 2050 is the year when we are supposed to have transferred all countries to fossil free, carbon neutral, sustainable and just societies. That is, if we want to have a chance to leave a liveable world for generations to come. By 2030, my newly born grandson will be 30 years, hopefully in the prime time of his life. 

Some days the climate disruption we are entering into and the detrimental effect that may well have on both democracy and societal stability feels like a heavy burden. I know too much about the climate science and the effects that climate change due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to be able to shake it off. What I have learnt cannot be unlearnt.

Still, that is no reason at all to give up and retreat to the private sphere, seeking some way to weather the storm - because the storm won’t pass. We have to actively confront both climate change and the nihilist that have gone from denial to saying it’s to late to do something. "Après nous la déluge” is a Trumpian way of shying away from facts, a cowards way of not taking responsibility. 

Instead I choose to be a “dystopian optimist”. There is no easy path forward, but a lot of hard work. The good thing is that the gains far outmatches the costs. Just getting us of fossil fuels would save enough lives now being cut short by particles and pollutions to pay for dismantling the fossil fuel industry. It is “denial as usual” that is expensive, not change.

If I am around for my grandsons birthday in 2050, I hope we can rejoice together. If not, I still hope that I have contributed enough for him to remember me as one who did what was necessary. For those who choose to continue to deny and stay silent I just ask, how do you want to be remembered? 

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

A walk in the park

 The past weekend, on the last sunny summer Sunday afternoon, I had decided to go for a run. But the balmy weather instead inspired me to take a walk in Botaniska, the Gothenburg botanical garden, which is located a mere 2 km from the city centre. Botaniska is embedded in a nature reserve, with a fluid border between the two. I’m glad that I decided for a walk, because it gave some important insights which I would not have been able to pickup, had I as planned been running through the same surroundings.


 
The first insight I got from looking at the explosive colour choreography exhibited by the Dahlia flowerbeds. There, the extraordinary shapes and neon colours made the flowers look “unnatural”, even though they were merely expressing some of natures ability to excel in form and fragrance. Nature itself in the form of bees were intensely attracted to flowers, loading up pollen to bring back to the hive. 




The second insight I got walking along the winding paths in the rock garden. There I could observe a more subdued form of nature, with moss and leafs covering the stones. To see the hidden beauty there, I had to look down, to slow down to take in and appreciate what I saw.




This brings me to my third insight which is intrinsically linked to the Corona time we are living in. To stop the virus from spreading we are trying to give each other physical space and social distance. Therefore, I had to step aside to let others pass and someone else needed to wait for me. This creates a common possibility to slow down, something we should appreciate and keep even when the pandemic has gone away.

As I left Botaniska and ventured out into the nature reserve, I started to see the 30-40 year old manboys on their MTBs, cycling determinedly and with head down through the forest. I wanted to yell at them “Hey, slow down, step off your bike, take of your helmet and be here, instead of speeding to your next goal”. But they kept whisking by.

There are hard times ahead, with the ongoing Corona crisis, the accelerating climate crisis and the political crisis with rise of right wing nationalists. To meet these challenges and prepare for a better and more just world, we have to understand that we need to be in the nature, that we are a part of nature. We need nature to survive as much for our minds as for food. We are still natural biological beings, despite all the technological gadgets we carry around,

Accepting oneself as a being a part of nature will be difficult for those who have been attracted the fake news promoted by some politicians but also to the synthetic and technological world where nature is something to be subdued and conquered. It takes courage to shut down the lights and take a walk in the dark. When I slow down I find new paths and new directions even in this forest where I have been running so many times. I can put away my phone and see the details around me and listen to the silence. 



Nature is now in its recharge time, when both plants and animals are filling up their reserves to sustain the winter and be ready for the coming spring. So while the dwindling evening light and the cooler evenings may make us sad, we should take this as a personal inspiration to recharge mentally and physically. There will be hard fights ahead if we are to keep our civility and our connection to each other.  

Gathering strength for the coming winter also means to be prepared, be mentally as well as physically prepared but also to be organised. To be organised and connected was the core message in a recent @GaslitNation podcast. We need to be prepared, we must not be caught off guard. 

Nature is resilient when given space and time. We need to find our own pauses to be as resilient.

 
 
 
 
 
PS

Thanks to Bar La Lune for good pause environment

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Du får ingen respirator av RUT

När nu Corona-krisen slår till med full kraft i Sverige blir det många frågor kring vår bristande beredskap:
  • Varför testar vi inte alla för Covid19?
  • Varför har intensivvården så få respiratorer?
  • Varför finns det inte 10 miljoner skyddsmasker i lager?
Det är många som nu upptäcker luckorna i vår samhälleliga förmåga till krishantering, när beredskapslagren visade sig vara tomma. De 30+ fältsjukhus vi en gång hade är nu bara två och medicinlagren försvann när det statliga Apoteket privatiserades. Det hjälper inte stort att apotekskedjorna har ett stort utbud av hudkrämer när det är Alvedon och handsprit du vill ha. Besparingskrav och “new public management” inom sjukvården blev en giftig kombination i skarpt läge.

En del av de som nu med emfas efterfrågar insatser från samhället har under det senaste decenniet säkert glatt sig åt skattesänkningar och byggt om sina lägenheter och sommarhus med ekonomiskt stöd av ROT-avdrag. Det kan ju vara trevligt men men du får ingen respirator av RUT och Doktor Kry kommer inte att sköta om dig när du behöver intensivvård. När andnöden känns i brösten är snabb vård via appen för enkla åkommor inte lika värdefull. Allt kan inte lösas "just in time”:
"Man är van vid film on demand och mat on demand. Då vill man kanske också bli frisk on demand”
Det handlar också om eget ansvar. Trots de uttryckliga varningar om att personer över 70 är den viktigaste riskgruppen, så finns det pensionärer som tycker det är viktigare att köpa ål i Östermalmshallen är att skydda sig själva och undvika att överbelasta sjukvården. Den import av smitta som vi hade vid pandemins start kom i stor utsträckning via skidåkare som återvände från Alperna. Var det samma personer eller deras vänner som spred smittan vidare på aftersski i Åre? Där kan det också finnas en möjlig förklaring till den stora smittspridning som verkar ha skett på Järvafältet i Stockholm. Kan det ha varit via taxichaufförer som körde hem trötta och snoriga skidresenärer som smittan fick fäste? Förhoppningsvis kommer epidemiologer att studera detta framöver.

Idag stängde Finland av Helsingforsregionen för att undvika att storstadsbor flyr ut på landet och tar smittan med sig. Sverige har kommuner med sommarparadis som Smögen och Kungshamn sett att mängder av storstadsbor har tagit sin coronatillflykt till sina fritidsbostäder. Därför beslöt en enig omsorgsnämnd i Sotenäs att neka hemtjänst och omsorg till visstidsboende som inte är folkbokförda där. Är det dags för resestopp för Stockholms invånare innan de hinner sprida smittan vidare över landet under påskhelgen?


Den kris vi nu är mitt uppe i kommer att kosta, både för samhället och personligt. Det handlar om mycket mer än pengar och börsvärde. För många kommer det att leda till svår sjukdom eller förlust av nära anhöriga. Det är ett val vad vi lär oss av coronakrisen och hur den är kopplad till andra risker. Vi kan ta det som intäkt till att bygga ett robust och hållbart samhälle, ett samhälle som både klarar nästa pandemi och att ställa om för att hantera den redan uppenbara klimatkrisen. Den omställningen  kommer också att “kosta”, men blir långt billigare än att försöka starta om ett trasigt system. Valet handlar i mångt och mycket om fortsatt “Jag” eller mera “Vi" under de kommande åren, men kanske framför allt om ett val mellan livskvalitet och tillväxt. Förhoppningsvis inser vi det när vi får lämna vår valda och/eller påtvingade karantän och åter får gå ut och upptäcka glädjen i att möta naturen.


Monday, 16 March 2020

Corona-stimulans med sans



Corona-pandemin fortsätter sprida sig över världen och just nu ökar antalet sjuka i Sverige och inom övriga länder i Europa kraftigt. Även i USA, som ligger långt efter när det gäller att testa för Covid19, ökar antalet insjuknade och avlidna snabbt. Det är troligt att smittspridningen där kommer att bli mycket omfattande, vilket kommer att ha stora effekter på både den globala och den amerikanska ekonomin. Börssiffrorna är blodröda och allt fler varsel läggs om uppsägningar och neddragningar. Ännu så länge är det reseföretag samt hotell och restaurangbranschen som är värst drabbade, när ingen handlar, reser eller besöker restauranger. Men snart riskerar det ekonomiska stilleståndet att sprida sig vidare och redan börjar producerande företag att varna för följderna. 

I Sverige liksom i andra länder har regeringar och riksbanker utlovat massiva ekonomiska stöd till framför allt företag. Fördelaktiga lån, uppskjutna skatteinbetalningar och stöd för att kunna behålla personal tills krisen är över har snabbt kommit på plats. Men detta är inte en kris som andra, eftersom orsaken är något vi inte har kontroll över eller kan förhandla med. Det går inte att “förklara krig” mot en motståndare i form av ett virus. Självklart skall vi göra allt för att hjälpa de sjuka, minska effekterna och förhoppningsvis med tiden kunna ha ett vaccin mot Corona-viruset. Men vi vet inte om det kommer att ta 6, 12 eller 18 månader innan pandemin är över. 

Därför är det viktigt att vi tänker strategiskt när det nu finns hundratals miljarder tillgängliga för att hålla hjulen rullande. Det är intressant att se hur det plötsligt inte finns någon gräns för vad man kan satsa, medan det för några månader sedan var “för dyrt” att satsa på det andra och långsiktigt minst lika stora hotet mot våra samhällen och vår framtid, de allt mer skenande klimatförändringarna. På samma sätt som vi behöver hålla flera tankar i huvudet samtidigt när det gäller insatser för att bromsa virusepidemin, behöver vi kunna skilja på vad som krävs för stunden och vad vi kan och bör göra för att använda dessa satsningar till den omställning som måste komma. Risken är annars överhängande att vi bränner de resurser vi har på att upprätthålla föråldrad teknik och ohållbar system så att vi inte klarar av att ställa om i tid. 
Here’s the big unknown: Will the effort to revive the global economy after the pandemic accelerate the emissions of planet-warming gases, rather than avert climate change? That depends on whether the world’s big economies, like China and the United States, use this moment to enact green growth policies or continue to prop up fossil fuel industries.
Flygindustrin kommer inte att hämta sig under överskådlig tid. De företag som nu ställer om till arbeta på distans och med videokonferenser kommer inte att återgå till sina tidigare resvanor. Det är förvisso trist om människor förlorar sina arbeten inom flygsektorn, men det finns ingen möjlighet att vi kan fortsätta flyga på det sätt vi gjort om vi skall klara klimatet. Charmen med shoppingresor till New York kan också te sig rätt blek framöver och den resenär som blivit strandsatt i Spanien eller Thailand bokar ingen ny resa i brådrasket. I det perspektivet kan generösa pengar till flygindustrin kan verkligen bli “throwing good money after bad”. Därför ser jag bättre sätt att använda pengarna.

På kort sikt:
  • Viktigast av allt just nu: Pengar till regionerna som driver sjukvården så att de snabbt kan återanställa en del av den personal som under många år har lämnat vården. Ge regionerna möjlighet att skapa vettiga villkor för sina anställda så att de kan återfå och behålla personalen. Det finns säkert många tidigare sjukvårdsanställda inom de branscher som nu krisar som skulle kunna tänka sig att återvända. Skall vi klara Corona-krisen måste personalen orka arbeta länge och uthålligt och då behövs fler som delar på bördan.
  • Om många framför allt äldre tvingas hålla sig inomhus så kanske restauranger som nu förlorat sina lunchgäster istället kan leverera mat till de som är i karantän. Det skulle kunna hålla den sektorn vid liv tills vi kan börja äta ute igen. Det blir också en avlastning till den hemtjänst som kommer att ha fullt upp framöver.
  • Om det är någon form av stimulans vi kommer att behöva för att klara denna kris så är det mental stimulans och det betyder kultur. Det är en sektor som har liten ekonomisk uthållighet och som Björn Wiman skriver behöver en katastrofplan. Vi behöver kultur för att beskriva det som nu sker, som kan hjälpa oss att hålla modet uppe tillsammans. Att sjunga på balkongerna som karantänsatta människor i Italien gjort visar på hur viktigt det är att vi har tillgång till kultur i olika former. Det måste finnas något att se fram emot när krisen lindras.

På längre sikt:
  • Det är uppenbart att sjukvården har brister som kommer att kräva resurser både när det gäller utrustning och nytänk inom organisationen. Att varje region sköter sin upphandling av kritiska resurser utan samordning är inte rimligt. Det kommer att bli en dyr lärprocess där det även måste finnas resurser kvar till vårt behov av ett fungerande civilförsvar (återigen något som det inte fanns pengar till för några månader sedan).
  • Än så länge har livsmedelsindustrin och jordbruket inte varit i fokus för diskussionen kring Corona-krisen. Det skall bli intressant att se om Spanien och Italien, länder med extremt många sjuka och där befolkningen satts i karantän kommer att kunna fortsätta leverera de grönsaker vi är vana att köpa. Min gissning är att vi kommer att i grunden behöva se över över egen livsmedelsförsörjning som en följd av denna pandemi. Det kommer att kosta och även leda till förändrade vanor när det gäller den mat vi äter, tex genom radikalt minskat köttätande som pandemiexperten professor Björn Olsen länge har förespråkat. Kålrotens tid kanske kommer tillbaka?
  • Om vi har råd att lägga 300 eller 500 eller 1000 miljarder kronor på ekonomiska nödpaket, så finns inte längre några ekonomiska skäl att inte starta bygget av nya snabbtåg mellan Malmö, Göteborg och Stockholm men även till Oslo. Det är en infrastruktur vi kommer att behöva och det är en långsiktig satsning som kommer att generera arbeten i en mängd kringsektorer.

Slutligen, en sak som måste återställas är förtroendet mellan människor, mellan invånare och myndigheter och mellan nationer inom EU. Istället för solidaritet har det blivit en kamp om munskydd och skyddshandskar både mellan länder men även med svenska hamstrare som försöker tjäna på krisen genom att sälja sina varor på Blocket. Det behövs konkreta projekt att samverka kring för att motverka nationell egoism. Den svenska regeringen borde redan nu ta initiativ till en gemensam europeisk beredskap när det gäller både läkemedel, medicinteknisk utrustning och skyddsutrustning.

Vad gäller hur vi som människor skall agera se mina mina tidigare blogg-inlägg:























Sunday, 15 March 2020

Going viral 3 - Comittement, change and collaboration

(This is my third text on the Corona virus / Covid19 epidemic, see previous posts on the blog)

We are in a global pandemic crisis and countries are heading into a lock down, closed border survival state. Everyone tries to find ways to avoid the Italian situation where hospitals are overwhelmed with critically ill patients. The situation is likely to become even worse in countries with less developed health care system, or as in USA where lack of paid sick leave in combination with high individual costs will make people stay away from necessary care. We have NOT seen the worst yet!

It will be a long and hard time ahead before we see any kind of turn for the better. What combination of ordered and voluntary containment that will be needed, how bad the situation will become and how many that will die we just don’t know yet. What’s making this worse is that we are in a triple crisis, as was discussed on Gaslit Nation this week. The combination of authoritarian and incompetent “leaders” with the accelerating climate breakdown contributes to making the Corona crisis so much worse. 

That's the struggle against autocracy. That's the struggle against the climate crisis. That's now the struggle against a pandemic in a world where most countries don't have the healthcare apparatus and or the transparency of government necessary to prevent a large scale human tragedy.

There is a high risk that authoritarian regimes will try to use corona created chaos to enhance their power and financial gains in the midst of the turmoil. Today there was a report from newspaper Welt am Sonntag that Trump has tried to lay his small hands on a potential vaccine being developed in German, in order to use it exclusively in USA. At a time when collaboration and cooperation is what is needed, men like Trump, Bolsonaro, MSB and Putin will not be able to look beyond there personal power and gains. That is a crisis as bad as Corona itself. When Saudi Arabia is waging a price war on oil that threatens to further escalate the economic crisis, Trump sees it as chance to fill up with cheap oil. 

So what can we do and how do we act? We will need a countermovement and a new direction in order to not just to survive but to transform our societies for a better future. I find inspiration in how Italians confined to their homes have been singing on their balconies rather than stay silent in despair. As Eric Holthaus wrote in a recent post about climate change and what we need to have more climate action it’s trust in mutual aid, not competition, that could form the basis of a new collective story: "I would have to trust others a lot more than I already do.”

Sadly, at the moment we can watch the lack of trust in Europe, where countries within the EU are keeping critical medical equipment to themselves. It would probably been much better also for the rest of Europe if Italy had received the support it asked for. Even better would be if EU would be proactively equipped to handle crisis like this. But if governments are not able to handle this kind of solidarity, likely we as citizens need to finds way to create the kind of collaboration that we will need for the future to meet both the Corona crisis and the climate breakdown. 

We will need to tell a better story that can lead us forward. It will not be simple story of happily ever after story, it will be a story that also includes struggles and losses. However, both human history and our collective storytelling shows us so many occasions where mankind has rissen to the challenge. 

We will need a transformation to a society that can adsorb the challenges ahead without falling apart. The last year I have been given the opportunity to be involved in the regional development strategy for the region of Västra Götaland in Sweden. Three keywords in the forthcoming strategy have suddenly become eerily important and also scalable on the global level: 
  • Robust
  • Inclusive 
  • Fossil Free
Robust - There will be more challenges ahead, a new pandemic like Corona or rapid sea level rise that inundates our coastal regions. There could be other completely unknown Black Swans that we need to deal with. To sustain these kind of challenges we can not run our societies, our companies or ourselves at the limit of capacity, because then every extra straw will break the camels back. 

Inclusive - At the moment we can foresee that the Corona crisis will hit the most vulnerable hardest. The same is true for climate change. We need to distribute the burden far more equitable than what we have seen during the last two decades. A world for the 1% is not sustainable for anyone.

Fossil free - Getting of rid of our dependence on coal, oil and gas is not only a given if we want to have a stable climate, it is also necessary for a stable global economy. A world where the power of both fossil fuel companies like Exon, Shell and BP as well as petrostates like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran will be a better world for everybody. 


The young climate movement has during the last 18 months been able to make both climate change and climate justice subjects that have been discussed at the highest level, from the UN to World Economic Forum. We need to harness the same energy in dealing with the ongoing corona crisis. It is a crisis, but if we can sustain the immediate crisis it is also an opportunity to rebuild in a far better way than the system that brought us to this brink. Whether we call it Great New Deal or something else is irrelevant. But wise governments and leaders should not throw good money after and try business that have outlived their time. The era of weekend shopping flights and mass consumerism fuelled by oil will need to stop now. Corona may show us in a brutal way what we can live without. What we need now is both leaders and social movements to help us discover what we need instead. 


Friday, 13 March 2020

Going viral 2 - Corona, climate and collapse

My previous blog post was about Corona, how we stumbled into a pandemic and why some countries more than others (especially USA) have missed the opportunity to contain the crisis.

Even though we are only in the beginning of the Corona pandemic, there are already lessons to be learned and parallels to be drawn. Some of them relate to the connection between Corona and climate change. It is clear that the decrease in emissions due to lowered industrial activity have had a marked impact on CO2 emissionsFurthermore, it might well be that the reduction in particle emissions due to reduced traffic and combustion actually savedmore lives than those killed by the virus (which of course is not a good way to solve the pollution problem).

There are of course also economical effects. The slowdown in transports from both less cars and trucks on the ground and far fewer flights in the air has caused plummeting sales of cars. Airlines are bleeding economically and some are going bankrupt. Still, the long term effects on travel might be even bigger. The big pharma company AstraZeneca was already far ahead before this crisis, conducting 20,000 video and telephone meetings per week. Others will now need to adapt quickly and rapidly start to move towards a non-travel meeting culture. What the lasting effects on business travel patterns will be remains to be seen. But it is unlikely that once companies have gotten used to running virtual meeting they will go back to spending money and their employees time on long flights for short meetings. So even if the corona crisis eventually subsides, the airline industry  might not make a full comeback. 

Presently central banks and governments are pouring money into the financial system in order to shore up companies whose business has came to a standstill due to the pandemic. But as the airline example shows this may well be throwing good money after bad. We need transformation not return to an outgoing business model that is not compatible with a liveable climate. It’s not only a question of emissions and pollution. Anthropogenic climate change and biodiversity destruction is one of the factors behind pandemics with a zoonotic cause, as habitat destruction and increasing temperatures are pushing wildlife too close to humans. Ebola, SARS, MERS and Covid19 all have a common denominator in that it was a disease that jumped from animals to humans. Still, we fail to see this link, but also don’t grasp that while Corona infection is an imminent threat, climate change is already the big disruptor which will only get more dangerous in years to come.
While coronavirus is understandably treated as an imminent danger, the climate crisis is still presented as an abstraction whose consequences are decades away. Unlike an illness, it is harder to visualise how climate breakdown will affect us each as individuals.
There is another link between Corona and climate change. Despite a likely reduction in CO2 due to less energy used, the reduction in aerosols can paradoxically result in a jump in temperatures, since the particle formed during combustion shields some of the incoming sunlight. Considering the already hot start of 2020, with the warmest winter on record in Europe while Australia endured record heat, droughts and fires, even an small increase in temperature could be very bad. A worst case scenario would be that in the summer we are hit by heatwaves and droughts at a time when both public resources and population have been worn down by the Covid19 pandemic. If so, there is a huge risk that this would lead to calls for "strong leaders" when it is instead strong leadership we need.
Trump will veer toward the edge of the cliff here and his cult of followerswill go with him. There’s no choice now for the Trump faithful. To admit he is incompetent and at all responsible now would be a devastating blow to their reality that might destroy their lives. There will be vast conspiracies, drumbeats of unnecessary war, scapegoating of political rivals, and a demonization and dehumanization of vulnerable populations.
And while most people are showing responsible behaviour and are willing to accept sacrifices for the common good, solidarity seems to disappear with increase wealth, as the super-rich jet off to disaster bunkers amid coronavirus outbreakSo what do we need to do in order to change the course we are on? Stay tuned, this is a crisis to good to be wasted! 

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Going viral 1 - How did we get into this mess?

Two months ago the Corona virus was not the recurring breaking news or the given subject of lunch talks at work. Today we are in the midst of the Covid19 epidemic, or rather pandemic as it was designated yesterday by the World Health Organisation. We don’t know yet how this will play out, if there will be a reduction of infections come spring in the northern hemisphere or if this virus will continue to wreak havoc for many months ahead. Even countries and regions with well organised health care system such at northern Italy are now reeling under the pressure of the sheer number of patients. Overworked doctors and nurses are trying to cope, trying to decide who among their many elderly patients should be put on a ventilator in order to be given a chance to recover.

The response in China was initially hailed as being forceful and effective, even if it was deemed a bit “harsh”. But it has become increasingly clear that the attempts to suppress information about the virus outbreak in the early phase had severe consequences. The response was delayed and the virus infection was not contained in Wuhan but instead allowed to spread over China. From China the Corona virus has taken multiple routes over the world and with our efficient ways of travel the virus is now criss-crossing the world. In Italy, the epidemic started with a “super-spreader” whose diagnosis was initially missed since he had no apparent contacts with China. By now, is hard to distinguish hot spots from general global spread, thus this is really a pandemic.

From a Swedish perspective just yesterday new initiative were launched attempting to slow the Covid19 tsunami. If we are lucky, we just might be able to avoid the Italian situation. But it’s not looking good for the normally so healthy and stable Nordic countries, were are in the top when it comes to cases per capita. Maybe our relative richness and ability to afford a lot of travelling this time will bring us down?

In the US, Trump has gone from neglecting and disavowing the Corona crisis, via using it as another excuse for building his wall to now trying to use EU as a scapegoat for the failures of his own administration. It’s clear that access to testing for Corona virus infection has been very low in the USA compared to other countries. This can also be largely blamed on the Trump regime due to the underlying budget cuts at the Center for Disease Control from $12.7bn in 2010 to $8bn today (all in current dollars). "You can’t have surge capacity if you’ve already been cut to the bone”.

The confusing and ignorant attitude from "President Donald Trump, who has pooh-poohed the danger of the new disease, played down case counts, and insisted that the new disease will soon taper off” has contributed to the fact the USA is still in the dark when it comes to understanding the magnitude of the disease. This is also why Trumps attempt to play statesman and calm the jittery market backfired:
Such is the reverse Midas touch of Donald Trump, that his attempt last night to face facts, steady nerves and reassure the public succeeded in spreading panic, sowing confusion and ratcheting up the anxiety.
The result? The worst day ever for global stock markets and the global economy.


So where do we go from here and what’s the link to climate change and democracy? That’s the subject of my next post! 

Friday, 14 February 2020

Time

Time flies they say
No, I don’t agree
Times comes in bits and pieces 

Sometimes time is just some time
A large chunk of time goes by
But nothing really happens
As time goes by

Other times time is full
Moments so filled with time 
You can almost touch them 

Some people are afraid of the passing time
Afraid that time should escape them

Again no
You have to be in the time
Not just in time

Time can not be well spent
Time is not a currency
Time is where we are

It’s a choice to be in the time



(Jan 2020, inspired by the new decade)