Last week, as I was looking for good websites and twitter users to follow the students’ movement in Quebec, its support by and links to the other worldwide opposition movements, and to try to assess how it could evolve, I found this really useful, informative and beautiful website displaying a timeline of the events done by Xavier K. Richard, @xkr.
Today, I found that this timeline, or rather the incredible tool to make such a timeline, TimelineJS, created by VéritéCo, is a free web-based application. I could not resist the temptation to try it, continuing on the series of timelines created for “the Tragic Events that strike Everstate.” It is truly very easy to use (just use the Google spreadsheet template provided on the website, and enter your data instead of those given as example), then follow the directions given on the TimelineJS website and, finally, embed it on your website. You can include videos and photographs, and, compared with the two others that were previously tried, you can create as many timelines as you want, which is a great advantage.
Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. To face the various difficulties and widespread discontent, in a first scenario, Everstate’s governing bodies implement the Mamominarch programme of drastic reduction of state spending over five years through devolution, privatisation and outsourcing.By 2018 EVT, the result is involution, with a fragilised governance including and implying the rise of lawlessness domestically, an abandoned mastery over international security, an inefficient economy and, as consequence, a rising insecurity for most Everstatans. The first set of tragic events - a tornadoes outbreak followed by a heat wave – that hits the West of Everstate soon becomes a complex catastrophe with dramatic direct and indirect impacts.
(The reader can click on each picture to see a larger version in a new tab – a navigating map of posts is available to ease reading).
Faced with destruction and a difficult and very slow reconstruction, Westerners are definitely dissatisfied with the way their political authorities, entrusted with the mission to ensure their security, have dealt with the complex catastrophe that befell them. Many are forced to leave as their survival is threatened and start moving towards other areas. However, they nevertheless expect recognition of their hardship, help and solidarity when they arrive somewhere else.
Yet, nothing is organised nationally. The way they are greeted varies greatly according to areas and even towns. In some cities, local authorities engineer emergency support for newcomers in the name of national solidarity, while everything is done to help them find temporary shelter and work. In others, only family network, when they exist, are active, and the refugees are not only ignored, but also rejected as they are seen as swelling the mass of the poor, homeless and unemployed, as potential criminals, as people lowering wages when they end up taking any job to survive. In those areas, as the refugees remind inhabitants of a selfishness they do not want to confront and of problems they want to deny, rejection hardens quickly.
All Everstatans, finally, feel unjustly treated, one way or another, which only feeds grievances. Those multiply as central political authorities do not acknowledge problems, give no recognition, and do nothing in a timely way. The victims are not supported in those areas where they are best welcomed and those who help them are left to their own device and funding, while the central administrative machine and policies continue as if nothing had happened, sometimes thus enhancing difficulties. Elsewhere fear is not assuaged, its roots are not dealt with. Notably, no one wants to face the fact that the refugees have become a disturbing symbol of a dysfunctional and outdated model of socio-political organisation, when so much hope had been invested in the Mamominarch system.
Over the summer, oil prices surge, with some spikes even reaching 200$ a barrel, as a result of renewed international tensions in the Middle East. This trend intensifies the overall situation in Everstate, as for most Everstatans, save the richest and best connected, life becomes increasingly difficult. Indeed, whatever the efforts the people have previously made, the result of their actions to improve or to the least stabilise their life is reduced to naught by the severe disturbance implied by the energy price. As, furthermore, the food produced in Everstate has become suspect – and sometimes rightly so – because of the industrial disasters, many Everstatans feel that they are left with only two bad choices: either starve because they cannot afford imported food, or kill themselves with polluted food.
The legitimacy of the Mamominarch system is now overtly questioned, and all remember that the governing bodies that decided to convene the Mamominarch commission were already facing similar problems, which only contributes to further de-legitimize the system.
The rising tension spreads throughout the whole country. If all have grievances, those accumulated complaints tend to coalesce and join along different fault lines according to areas and groups, because there is not anymore one national situation but many, notably as a result of the devolution (spatial variations) and of the privatizations (end of the concept and practice of public good). With time, events and a large variety of responses, the conditions have grown to be very diverse.
External observers are surprised when, building on the tension existing in 2012 EVT, then on those that simmered over the past five years of Mamominarch system, and triggered by the recent events, a Movement for the Independence of the Trueland, a region covering the South-East of Everstate (notably the mouth of the river and the seaside), is created and rapidly takes off. The usual inflow of money that used to bring wealth, and, during the last years, release, to the country with tourism is abruptly halted by the complex catastrophe, as tourists fear coming to Everstate. The inhabitants of the seaside area being relatively richer were thought as much calmer and less likely to mobilise politically. But this is without considering the sudden relative deprivation they feel, which is, furthermore, from their point of view, none of their making. Other small areas, sometimes only cities, follow suit and also start voicing their desire for local independence and direct membership to the Regional Union.
Yet, not all citizens of those areas share the same views, and those who are dissatisfied with the two main political parties, spearheaded by Occupy Everstate, respond by creating a Movement for the Renewal of Everstate, which is soon joined by large parts of the Westerners, by the refugees and many in those towns that put solidarity first. The CEO of Evernet, as reported by international media, decides to join the movement she sees as prefiguring the future. She offers the technical support of Evernet, providing even funding and sometimes directly hardware to the Renewers, as they are soon called, when those cannot afford anymore access to social networks considering the degraded overall situation.
Meanwhile, Novstate and its friends companies make sure they remain officially neutral, offering their services to all, while they continue promoting the system that made their fortune.
Many of those joining the new Movements did not belong, previously, to any political party. They had even often abstained during previous elections. Yet, the two main parties, the conservative and the social-democrat, with still their headquarters in the capital, start losing sympathisers. The classical elite groups remain faithful to the two traditional parties, which have created the Mamominarch system, and start worrying about the evolution of the situation. First, the Western quagmire has marred the international ideological standing of the Mamominarch system, which seriously limits the opportunities offered to the elite.
Then, those new Movements imply a loss of power for the two parties that constitute the usual political framework of the elite, indeed the way its members think and live. The elite groups initially try to dismiss the new Movements because they do not enter the familiar right/left, conservative/social-democrat way to think and thus, certainly, do not correspond to anything serious… yet the political mobilisation is there, as well as the grievances and the tension and altogether they completely deny everything the elite has ever believed in and stood for. The new Movements have not even tried to include them.
The Renewers then pick up on a report according to which a terrorist group has infiltrated a Novcybio laboratory in its home country a few weeks ago, stolen some deadly pathogens and manipulated others, mixing them with some of the genes experimented. Considering the existence of Novcybio Everstate, the news goes viral through social networks, among Renewers initially.
Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. To face the various difficulties and widespread discontent, in a first scenario, Everstate’s governing bodies implement as policies the conclusions of the Mamominarch Commission: a programme of drastic reduction of state spending over five years through devolution, privatisation and outsourcing.By 2018 EVT, the result is involution, with a fragilised governance including and implying the rise of lawlessness domestically, an abandoned mastery over international security, an inefficient economy and, as consequence, a rising insecurity for most Everstatans. A series of tragic events then strike Everstate.
(The reader can click on each picture to see a larger version in a new tab – a navigating map of posts is available to ease reading).
The tornadoes outbreak that hits the Western part of Everstate in May, as well as the other tragic events of the year, results of global pressures accumulated over the years, including in terms of ecological setting.*
Two of those tornadoes are deadly. They are rated EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale and have a very long track reaching almost 70km.
Hundreds of power transmission towers are taken down, and, as a result, electricity outage occurs in a large part of Everstate’s West.** The scope of civilian disaster is huge. So much of the population is hit. To the fatalities, casualties and people unaccounted for, must be added people finding themselves overnight without shelter. Furthermore, as all communications are severed, evaluation and first emergency is terribly difficult. The tornadoes also hit two industrial sites in this recently industrialised part of Everstate. A corner of the dam of a reservoir containing liquid waste collapses, releasing toxic muds. First, the wave of mud reaches a nearby small town, miraculously spared by the tornadoes and then spills inexorably to reach the Everstatan main river.***
Not far from there, one of the storages of an agrochemical company is ground to pieces. Highly toxic levels of pesticides are released in the air.****
Panic presides to the outbreak and to the first days. Then comes the extreme difficulty of dealing with “complex catastrophes.” In the words of Paul N. Stockton, the assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs,
“Complex catastrophes differ from normal disasters in two ways. First, the scale of destruction is vastly greater… Second,… complex catastrophes may create cascading, region-wide failures of critical infrastructure, starting with the disruption of the commercial electric power grid….This loss of power could create cascading effects on communications and other critical infrastructure. From a public safety perspective, the most immediate concern might be the impact on municipal water systems, .. Transportation infrastructure could be degraded as well; gas and diesel fuel pumps, for example, depend on electric power to function. While many hospitals and other facilities critical to disaster response efforts have backup diesel-powered generators, we anticipate few will have sufficient fuel on hand to offset power outage lasting weeks to months, and that companies responsible for resupplying them could face a radical mismatch between supply and demand.” in Stockton, ”Ten Years After 9/11: Challenges for the Decade to Come,” Homeland Security Affairs, Volume 7, The 9/11 Essays (September 2011).*****
Locally, as the Western areas have never known any natural catastrophe, are not located in a seismic zone, and are not considered as sensitive defense-wise, no preparedness for any natural or even man-made emergency exists.
Novstate, which is contracted for the management of crisis and emergency response nationally, should have had at least the beginning of an emergency plan ready, and should start implementing it. However, it is without counting with a few crucial factors. First, the electricity outage considerably slows and delays all communications, evaluations, transport and logistics, while rapidly increasing hazards to the population as hospitals, notably, will soon run out of fuel for their backup diesel-powered generators. Second, Novstate has not planned for any type of such multi-risk emergencies spreading on large areas, both urban and rural. It has mainly focused on terrorist attacks in the major Everstatan cities. Finally, the involvement of many different companies responsible for so many types of infrastructures, including hospitals, and in charge of various outsourced services creates a highly complex picture of independent intervening actors that have to be identified, organised, and put to work on an emergency, solidarity and not for-profit basis. Furthermore, Novstate’s mandate includes no specific authority to act in such a way. Meanwhile, the political authorities who do have this legitimacy have now to do with a reduced Everstatan central administrative staff, soon overwhelmed by a catastrophe of a type and scale never envisioned.
Finally, after 4 days, prompted by international calls from his counterparts and from the Regional Union, Everstate’s Prime Minister finally asks for international help. Meanwhile, thousands of Everstatans lost their lives; the Everstatan main river has become severely polluted, toxic mud spreading towards the agricultural South and the touristic mouth of the river. The toxic dust has spread with the very strong winds and the full extent of damages will only be discovered with time, but have created health hazards for human beings, biodiversity and most probably impacted soil and water.
Again, the initial absence of overall coordination runs contrary to the efficiency of the assistance, and the Regional Union, incorporating in the lead team Everstatan regional civil servants to respect Everstate’s sovereignty and the Novstate executive responsible for emergencies, has to firmly take over.
Thanks to international help, the crisis is finally contained, but it takes a few months before such services as electricity, which were previously taken for granted, are fully reestablished. Worse damages such as epidemics are avoided. Yet, the terrible environmental impacts are there. Furthermore, the drought that follows dries up the river helping spread the toxic mud changed in dust over even larger areas of the country.
The Everstatan quagmire has highlighted the high difficulty of complex catastrophes’ management and intervention, notably in a context of privatised infrastructures and outsourcing. It is reviewed and criticised internationally by multiple instances. As a result, Everstate’s model begins to be seriously questioned, which has indirect negative effects on the export of services, as the Everstatan Mamominarch-type of knowledge and skills is now considered as inadequate. Yet, Novstate manages to turn the tragedy to its advantage, and can now sell its unique expertise.
The overall direct and indirect cost of the tornadoes outbreak is very high. Security has definitely not been ensured and, seeing the slow rate of reconstruction, the absence of hope of much help considering the already overall difficult situation of Everstate before the tornadoes, Western refugees start moving towards other areas.
* According to Munich-Re, “A sequence of devastating earthquakes and a large number of weather-related catastrophes made 2011 the costliest year ever in terms of natural catastrophe losses….With some 820 loss-relevant events, the figures for 2011 were in line with the average of the last ten years. 90% of the recorded natural catastrophes were weather-related – however, nearly two-thirds of economic losses and about half the insured losses stemmed from geophysical events, principally from the large earthquakes. Normally, it is the weather-related natural catastrophes that are the dominant loss drivers.” Munich-Re, “Review of Natural Catastrophes in 2011,” 4 January 2012. Download pdf.
** The video was published on Nov 17, 2011 by AssociatedPress and posted on YouTube: “A tornado ravaged three neighborhoods in the outskirts of the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, damaging dozens of private homes and warehouses but was not responsible for any deaths. (Nov. 17).” For a recent example of a very destructive tornadoes outbreak, see the U.S. 2011 Super Outbreak, which occurred from April 25 to 28, 2011.
***** Stockton also emphasises that local authorities would need to ask for (in the case of the U.S., federal) help.
“Responding to those requests in a timely manner could create complex challenges for the department [of defense] in sourcing the requested capabilities, transporting them, and then providing for their reception, staging, onward movement, and integration in a severely disrupted environment.”
The tragic events that strike Everstate are instances of the various conditions presiding to Everstate’s destiny, considering what has been done, or not, globally, regionally and within Everstate. The same set of events will be used to stress test each … Continue reading →