Do We Really Need Black Friday ?, by Cristina Manzano

The president of the Community of Madrid must be happy: we have recovered the traffic jams, that hallmark of the city. For months we have speculated about what we would have learned after the pandemic and it is clear that the illusion of moderate traffic is not one of them. Here’s the long-awaited return to normalcy, with its dose of noise, nerves and fumes.

But not everything will be the same so quickly. Another traffic jam has become the topic of the moment: that of global freight traffic. It affects some basic products, but the obsession is to meet the demand for two of the year’s consumer peaks par excellence: Black Friday and the Christmas.

The issue comes from afar, with trade tensions between China and the United States and the consequent adjustments in the maritime transport industry, which reduced the number of shipping companies worldwide. Then the virus did the rest: the sudden and drastic stoppage of world trade, the “parking lot & rdquor; in the ports of thousands of containers with no return, the consequent shortage of certain materials, the increase in demand by citizens from all over the planet locked in their homes, the blockade of the Suez Canal by the ‘Ever Given’, and, when already We began to emerge from the health emergency, the rapid economic reactivation in a good number of countries, with the lack of chips and truckers.

And it doesn’t have an easy answer in the short term. Rebuilding a complex global logistics system is going to take time, although the “magic & rdquor; the market will eventually regain its equilibrium. In the long term, however, changes of greater significance are sighted, with a rapprochement of the production centers (‘reshoring’) and a redefinition of globalization as we have known it until now. If we have learned something, it is the need to produce nearby strategic assets, including sanitary, even if it implies higher prices.

Quite a challenge for economic recovery plans, we are already seeing it. But also an opportunity – perhaps the last one? – to continue to seriously tackle the greatest challenge we face: the destruction of the planet.

The drop in CO emissions2 in 2020 it was a passing phenomenon: between January and June 2021 it had already recovered the same level, or higher, than in the equivalent period in 2019. Only transport was still 6% lower. It is clear that, following this rhythm, Paris Agreement commitments will not be met. It is more, a recent leak gathers the efforts of selected energy and meat producing countries to modify a critical report on how to tackle climate ambition at the next Climate Summit, the COP26 de Glasgow, in November.

The outrageous consumption is an attack on any good sense, including the economic one. Just a few days ago the news of the thousands of products that Amazon destroy every day& mldr; Only in Spain! The figure is known that we would need 1.7 planets to be able to satisfy the demand of the current world population; a much higher figure in the case of developed countries, including ours.

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The first organization to warn of this in the 1970s, the Club of Rome, celebrates its annual assembly this week. There they will discuss topics such as the need to move from ego to echo in search of new concepts of well-being or the need for reinvent the meaning of human development. According to Carlos Álvarez, a member of its executive committee, the debate between growth and decrease is not enough. “We have three imperatives that cannot all be met at once: the ecological, the democratic and the rentier,” he says. Forums like this seek to debate solutions that allow combine economic and inequality challenges with sustainability, before it is too late; not for the planet, but for those of us who live on it.

Perhaps the current supply problems and the prices that result from them can help us go one step further to rethink the definition of “need & rdquor; in our societies. Really we need a black friday, when have we lived until recently without it? Do the end of the year parties really require hyper-consumerism? If a pandemic has not been enough to rethink the future, then what?

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