At World's End

The Engineer is sitting at home twiddling his thumbs and is, frankly, a bit angry. Yes, this is common, but today its a special kind of angry. It’s the angry reserved for only the most heinous of imbeciles.

The reason? The milk has run out. The shop has none. There can be no more tea.

A mild complaint, maybe. But is only the symptom. Really the Engineer’s anger is directed to those idiots who have stripped the supermarkets bare, panic buying in the face of Coronavirus.

Clearly they think the world is coming to an end, there can be no other reason for such rash behaviour. Perhaps they’re also considering eating toilet rolls?

But is it?

We’ve all been asked to stay at home, to cut out unnecessary travel, to avoid others. Certainly an inconvenience but the world continues to turn.

Goods are moving across borders. Many companies are still operating, production lines slow but operating. The world is adapting.

People are working from home, made possible by the internet. The net hasn’t broken or are even remote pushing capacity limits, even with all those extra Netflix streams. (The Engineer therefore finds Netflix and Amazon’s recent bit rate reductions to “help capacity” as no more than a highly cynical corporate “we care” statement).

People are still communicating across the world, using video call tech as never before. Snail mail is still moving and parcels are still being delivered.

Children, now home from school closures, still have access to resources necessary to continue their learning and development.

Those who become sick still have access to healthcare and tests for Coronavirus are easily available. Scientists are working towards a vaccination and incredible speed made possible by modern medical understanding and technology.

The Engineer’s observation is simply this: The technology underpinning society is working flawlessly, it is the People who are broken.

People, particularly the young, who refuse to participate in social distancing recommendations. They put everybody else at risk with little thought of others.

People, like many of you, who strip the supermarkets bare, either by following the crowd or pure selfishness. You put the rest of us at risk.

People who steal hand sanitiser from hospitals, having the previous day bought the whole stock of the local supermarket. Worse still those who sell it on ebay for a handsome profit.

People, who lead large corporates, looking for a way to cash in (looking at you BA, sniffing around the Virgin Atlantic routes).

So are we at World’s End?

No, but the human world is about to change forever.

We have started to realise business can be conducted just as efficiently from afar, local suppliers may be better than the far east, that globalisation can exact a massive human price.

We have, perhaps the first indication on a timescale that can be grasped my most, seen our massive environmental impact in the shape of reduced pollution in the absence of normal human activity. This has to change.

We will likely enter into another lost decade in economic terms, with financial diligence punished by low interest rate and supreme unpredictability of the stock markets. And you didn’t really think all this money pumped into the economy by the government is free did you?

Think about that next time you’re in the supermarket. Your small decisions will determine how quickly and how many of us make it through this time.

Use your brain, think for yourselves, and do the right thing.


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