China became the powerhouse of the global economy making the famous Chaos Theory come true albeit in the reverse way – instead of a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico causing chaos in China, it is China that is now triggering the great interruption
I find a distinct relationship between the Australian wildfire and the Coronavirus effect on global economy. Here is why.
Australia's forests in recent months have been devastated by wildly leaping fires the fumes of which have crossed the boundary and even affected New Zealand and beyond by emitting 400 million tons of carbon dioxide. Have you ever wondered why Indian forests have never witnessed such incidents?
One of the answers is India's forests are made of a variety of trees, more varied in nature. The forests are not monotonous and repetitive. The floras come from a wide spectrum. This mixture of different species in the forest provides a natural shield against pests and fires. Species variation means the whole forest does not dry up at the same time and become combustible, or pests that attack one kind of tree cannot easily spread across the forest.
This is why monoculture is so vulnerable and dangerous. Monoculture stymies ideas, blocks creativity and leaves the whole group vulnerable to external shocks.
And diversity makes you strong and interesting. It gives you newer reasons to think anew. Diversity makes the world a melting pot of cultures and sub-cultures to turn out yet another novel meaning of life.
Now the same thing has happened in case of China and the coronavirus that has been causing havoc across the globe.
Oxford Economics has warned that the spread of the virus to regions outside Asia would knock 1.3% off global growth this year, the equivalent of $1.1tn in lost income.
The virus that has led to lockdown of cities have completely upturned the global supply chain. New Zealand is stuck with its lobsters supposed to be shipped to China. Malaysian pet lovers are stuck with a messy prospect because they can't get China-made cat litters. Mexican mask makers are hanging up their tools because they can't get components. And in Bangladesh every sector is fretting about a slump if the virus continues.
And this has happened all because of capitalism's love for monoculture.
The world suddenly found a cheap and efficient wellspring in China and scrambled into that country with armloads of orders.
China became the powerhouse of the global economy making that famous Chaos Theory come true albeit in the reverse way – instead of a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico causing chaos in China, it is China that is now triggering the great interruption.
So when capitalism wagered everything on China, it did not think of the wildfire that may ignite one day. The rapacious nature of our entrepreneurship did not let us take a break and think of nature. Or even the old wisdom of not to put all eggs in one basket.
So now, we are all reeling from the virus shock.
Will we ever learn from the nature? Probably not. Because capitalism is based on cheap and efficient production.