Strong Government Action Needed in Corona War: Michael Shellenberger

Monday, March 23, 2020

Michael Shellenberger

By Allison Pestotnik
Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Internationally known environmental policy writer and analyst Michael Shellenberger is calling on the U.S. government to take strong and decisive actions at the federal level in the fight against the spreading coronavirus, a situation that he compares to a war.

“A report released by Imperial College-London researchers on Monday shook the world,” he wrote in an article called Winning the War on Coronavirus. “The report gave a glimpse into the coronavirus’s battle plan. It was to kill over two million Americans and at least half a million Brits.”

Shellenberger argued in his article that war metaphors are appropriate in the coronavirus crisis, as both the government and the public need to take strong and sustained action to limit deaths from the virus, even as such action will lead to economic hardship and likely engender resistance.

“In this case, ‘killing’ and ‘war,” are the right metaphors because they drastically focus our attention, motivate us to urgent action, and help us to transcend our selfish natures in service of humankind’s collective interest,” he wrote.

He specifically called on President Trump to take responsibility at the federal level, as opposed to leaving issues up to state governors to handle, and said that the government needs to take an active role in producing and maintaining supplies of personal protective equipment, including masks, and building ventilators.

Shellenberger said that much more of such equipment will be needed than is currently available, and noted that China can be a bottleneck in the production process. He argued, therefore, that the nationalizing of firms may become necessary to make sure enough equipment is manufactured.

While some measures being called for may echo wartime policies, Shellenberger said that there is an important distinction between normal warfare and the fight against the coronavirus: in the case of the coronavirus, there is absolutely no need for secrecy.

Rather, Shellenberger emphasized that government transparency is paramount and necessary to foster trust and cooperation from citizens. And as economic hardships worsen, cooperation will be harder and harder to maintain.

He therefore argued that in addition to transparency about its own actions, the government should focus its resources on “no regrets” policies like making personal protective equipment, producing ventilators, testing and information sharing.

“The actions we take in terms of coronavirus suppression and Covid-19 treatment will determine how many people die, and how massive of an impact our actions have on society and the economy,” wrote Shellenberger.

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