The coronavirus butterfly effect: Six predictions for a new world order

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The world may soon pass “peak virus.” But true recovery will take years—and the ripple effects will be seismic. Parag Khanna and Karan Khemka forecast the aftershocks.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect describes a small change that can have massive, unpredictable consequences. An insect flaps its wings and, weeks later, causes a tornado.

The coronavirus is more like an earthquake, with aftershocks that will permanently reshape the world.

If we are lucky, the world will pass “peak virus” within the next six months. But the economy, governments, and social institutions will take years to recover in the best-case scenario. Indeed, rather than even speak of “recovery,” which implies a return to how things were, it would be wise to project what new direction civilization will take. That too will be a bumpy ride. The next 3-5 years will remind us that COVID-19 was the lightning before the thunder

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