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Seeing and Responding to COVID 19 Through the Lens of Complexity

by Dr. Laura Batson ND, Cloe Franko, Adrienne Waunch and Dr. Leslie Solomonian ND


While there is a strong desire to simplify COVID-19 to a problem of biomedicine (wear a mask, wash your hands, wait for a vaccine), it is in reality a deeply “wicked” problem - a consequence of catastrophic and complex human systems, inextricably linked to other planetary crises. This global pandemic is a predictable and natural response of the biosphere to deliberately designed systems of economic, environmental, and social organization, systems that sit outside the natural patterns of ecology in the biosphere.

Efforts to reduce the solution to a technoscientific one is myopic. There are thousands of zoonotic organisms primed to jump to the human species because of the tremendous alteration to our planet caused by human activity over the period of the properties of the Anthropocene, our current geological age. Socially distancing from others until a safe vaccine can be developed completely disregards the causes that created this crisis. Moreover, it neglects to create a platform to prevent future pandemics (including the nurturing of loving, compassionate relationships that are necessary for planetary healing). Arguably, framing the solution in such simplistic ways reinforces the attitudes and worldviews that led to the mess we’re in in the first place.