Viewpoint: The frequency of infrequent events | Opinion Pieces

The events in Ukraine are as harrowing as they are heart-breaking to watch. The war has exacted a terrible human toll and represents a magnitude of conflict not seen in Europe for more than 75 years. It is almost by definition, a “once in a lifetime” event from a European perspective that we wish had never arisen.

However, the propensity of such exogenous events, labelled “once in a lifetime” seem to be ever-increasing. Looking back over the course of the past 15 years or so, we have recovered from two global market crashes, withstood a worldwide pandemic, experienced major geopolitical dislocations such as Brexit, and with every passing summer, seemingly remain at the behest of escalating weather events. A relatively new term has emerged: perma-crisis.

While the term may be new, perma-crisis is not. If we were writing in 1945 the last three decades would have included two…


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