COVID-19’s historic and continuing, tragic cost in lives, health and societal well-being represents the first Black Sky-class pandemic event in modern times. Had this pandemic had (or if it develops) somewhat higher morbidity, it could have become – not merely “Black Sky-class” – but an actual global complex catastrophe, associated with large scale infrastructure disruption, and the potential for unprecedented risk to societal continuity.
Risk to the fragile global financial system.
The continuity of our global financial is a particularly important, aggregating example of modern civilization’s vulnerability to a potentially more severe pandemic. An article in the July/August 2020 issue of The Atlantic’s article entitled “The Looming Bank Collapse” 4 provides a visualization of this risk. The article highlights concerns of major economists in the early months of the pandemic that the economic stresses of the pandemic might have led to collapse of the global financial system. Our civilization does not currently have a “fallback plan” for such a collapse. Without the banking, credit, insurance, reinsurance, monetary and other financial system instruments that are essential to economic and societal continuity, our civilization’s
economies could not function.
The risks associated with a more extreme pandemic are unthinkably catastrophic. In a scenario in which, for example, a pandemic’s impact caused collapse of the financial frameworks enabling production and distributions of the goods and services we require to survive, societal and national continuity would be at risk, worldwide.
What can be done?
The world’s leading financial institutions work diligently to develop resilient mechanisms to ensure that shocks to the system can be survived. These mechanisms must now be expanded to address far more extreme risks than those currently addressed – including, for example, implementing a capability to enable prearranged financial guarantees for critical services and corporations, coupled with a recognized, temporary transaction logging system designed to operate even in long duration, subcontinent-scale power outages.
For more information, see the Global Resilience Commission resources, elsewhere in this site, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.