On the Map
1. COP26 Fails the Climate Change Challenge Again
With the COP26 Climate Conference labeled by most a failure, we are left with many questions. Many are asking: What now? What will happen in regards to all of those important climate pledges that were made at previous conferences such as phase out coal subsidies and protect forests for future generations? The fossil fuel lobby, led by India with stunningly ambitious promises to reduce carbon emissions in order but not before watering down at the last minute and without due process -a move which would have drastically lowered coal power generation- came up short when it was announced that instead of phasedown we will now be governed under ‘phasing’. This means even less help for the poor who are the ones that need help the most. COP27 will be in November 2022, so our leaders have another eleven months to prepare. Maybe they will bring something more serious to the table next time.
2. Supply Chains Falter
Supply chains are no longer a one-way street for businesses looking to cut costs. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed their downside: shortages leading up to and throughout production, which creates more problems down the line when there is an actual shortage or blockage in any one area of your supply chain network that affects you as well--regardless whether it be overseas shipments getting stopped by customs because they've been quarantined due at least partially from infection outbreaks. As the pandemic spread, many factories closed and others reduced inventories to avoid being stuck with unsold goods. When consumer demand started surging in 2021 as vaccines became available, many companies found themselves short on parts and supplies. Shortages of shipping containers and backups at ports around the world further complicated matters. Many people with decades of experience in logistics were caught off guard, so much so that Presidents of nations started getting involved to clear up the problem. One thing is for sure, there will be room for skilled, tactical logistics leadership in the future.
3. And Then Came Omicron
In the past, vaccines have taken ten to fifteen years to develop. The quickest any vaccine had been developed previously was the four years it took to create the mumps vaccine. Due to work that had already been done on other viruses in the past, the COVID-19 vaccines were created in less than a year. Just as important, the leading COVID-19 vaccines worked amazingly well. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were more than 90 percent effective against early COVID-19 variants. More than seven billion vaccine doses were administered in 184 countries in the first eleven months of 2021. Unfortunately, too many people who could have been vaccinated chose not to, and too many people who wanted to get vaccinated couldn’t. That was deadly because COVID-19 is incredibly adaptive. The Delta variant, first identified in December 2020 in India, was more infectious than its predecessors and soon became the dominant strain around the world. In November 2021, South African scientists identified the emergence of the Omicron variant. Within weeks it had been found around the world. As 2021 draws to a close, it is unclear whether Omicron presents a greater health threat than the previous versions. What is clear is that more than 5 million people globally and 800,000 Americans had died from COVID-19 to date. Moderna and Pfizer both report that people who have received booster shots should be okay, but with so many unvaccinated and with the rapid increase in cases, two things are clear: it is likely we will see more variants and it will be a long time before we return to normal, if ever.