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Today's issue is 1,602 words, a 6-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The COVID-19 pandemic is rolling back the tide of globalization, both economically and politically.
Why it matters: For all its flaws, increased global trade and international connections has on the whole been a force for prosperity and peace. COVID-19 is forcing a reshoring that, while necessary, could leave the world poorer and less able to counter global threats — including the pandemic itself.
What's happening: The World Health Organization held its 73rd annual assembly earlier this week — virtually — as it debated responses to a COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 people worldwide. But the meeting was overshadowed by growing animosity between the U.S. and China over the disease, leading to President Trump's threat to permanently cut off U.S. funding for the organization.
Driving the news: While international governance crumbles, the virus has been even more devastating to economic globalization.
While the most extreme changes are likely a temporary effect of COVID-19 lockdown policies, globalization was already facing major political headwinds boosted by long-term technological shifts.
"Globalization describes a world economy increasingly integrated under a common set of rules and principles. We’re now experiencing the beginnings of an unwind."— Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group
The catch: An infectious disease pandemic spreading around the world is a clear example of the dark side of global connection, and one that underscores the importance of considering resilience alongside efficiency when constructing supply chains. But true deglobalization would make the world poorer and less secure.
The bottom line: Though globalization isn't dead, its trajectory will be altered by the pandemic. But we still need to figure out a way to share the same small globe.
Norwegians in what I imagine is their typical national attire. Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images
A new global index ranks the world's nations by resiliency.
The big picture: COVID-19 underscores the economic threat from disruptions of all kinds, from health to climate. The nations poised to thrive in the pandemic age are those that have built the most resilient systems.
How it works: The commercial property insurer FM Global just released the latest edition of its Global Resilience Index. 130 countries are ranked on economic factors, risk quality and supply chain.
But, but, but: While some factors, like exposure to natural disasters, are beyond the ability of governments to control, every country can take steps to make themselves more resilient to shocks of all kinds.
Why it matters: As multinational countries look to make their supply chains more resilient post-COVID-19, well-governed countries that focus on managing risk will stand to benefit.
Photo: Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
U.S. births hit a 35-year low in 2019.
Why it matters: Years of declines in the U.S. birth rate will shape the future of the country — especially if the economic and social stresses of the pandemic further discourage fertility. The number of children born today will help drive everything in the future from college enrollment numbers to the demographic makeup of the country.
By the numbers: The CDC found the number of births in the U.S. last year fell by about 1% from 2018, to 3.7 million.
Between the lines: It isn't clear yet how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect births this year.
Be smart: Bet on the latter — while it isn't yet clear how long lasting the economic downturn caused by the pandemic will be, recessions and high unemployment almost always drive fertility down.
Pandemic-related lockdowns cut global CO2 emissions by 17% in early April compared to average 2019 levels as the crisis "drastically altered patterns of energy demand around the world," a new study concludes, writes Axios' Ben Geman.
Why it matters: The paper in Nature Climate Change provides a fine-grain look at the unprecedented drop-off, which saw average peak declines of 26% in individual countries, and a broad look at the immense difficulty of achieving sustained cuts.
What they found: The peer-reviewed study is roughly in line with prior estimates about the expected annual emissions decline, which the authors project will be in the 4.2%–7.5% range (although there's a much wider band of uncertainty).
The big picture: The study underscores how the world is nowhere near on track to achieve the most ambitious goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Why do food delivery companies lose money? (Josh Barro — New York Magazine)
The rogue experimenters (Margaret Talbot — The New Yorker)
Not even wrong: ways to predict tech (Benedict Evans)
The farms growing beneath our cities (William Park — BBC Future)
On the plus side, they finally have high-speed rail Photo: Justina Mintz/TNT
Even if you're no longer sheltering at home — welcome to the outside world, Connecticuters — I guarantee you're still watching tons of TV, so this newsletter is occasionally recommending pop culture that jells with the themes of Future.
Why you should watch it: You're a devotee of high-speed rail and elaborate climate change adaptation plans. Also, "The Last Dance" is over, and honestly, the streaming cupboard is getting a bit bare.
The original "Snowpiercer" was a 2013 film by the Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho, who won an Oscar this year for "Parasite." Like "Parasite," the cinematic "Snowpiercer" is a brilliant piece of social satire that exposes class divisions. Unlike "Parasite," "Snowpiercer" is set on a futuristic, fast-running train that is the only thing keeping survivors alive in a world frozen by a geoengineering scheme gone wrong.
What they're saying: Matthew Dessem of Slate sums up the prevailing critical consensus: The show "doesn't even get out of the station before it goes off the rails."
The bottom line: All aboard for train puns!