Occupational catastrophe! The digital revolution, global warming, unrest and pandemics: are we prepared?

Robin Wendy Joubert


Through an extensive scrutiny of relevant print and online media, research publications, global reports and against a participatory occupational
justice framework (POJF), the author explores 4 phenomena that are increasingly impacting upon human occupation. They
are the 4th industrial revolution with its accelerated technological advancement; global warming and the concomitant climatic changes
that are collectively causing human and agricultural displacement with catastrophic side effects; global unrest which is resulting in the
displacement and disruption of large numbers of people and the corona virus pandemic with its emerging effects upon so many aspects
of human existence.

This is an opinion piece in which the author proposes a potential scenario that will change the face of human occupation and contribute
towards considerable threat to the health and wellness of humanity. A scenario in which many occupations will be replaced by
advanced technology and/or activities of daily living transformed by climate change. This, together with human displacement, will result
in millions of people being jobless and the profile of human occupation changing. The impact of the corona virus remains an emerging
phenomenon that is and will continue to have far reaching effects upon human behaviour, occupation, health and the global economy.
A further consequence of all these phenomena will provide the world with spiritual, ethical and moral dilemmas that threaten to challenge
the training and capabilities of health professionals.

As health professionals with a profound understanding of the physical, mental and spiritual importance of human occupation upon
the health of humanity, occupational therapists will need to decide whether or not they are going to react creatively and proactively to
these challenges or remain within the boxes of their past.

Guided by the collaborative ethos and enablement skills of the Participatory Occupational Justice Framework (POJF), and current
proactive movements within the WFOT and occupational science, the author suggests a tentative approach the occupational therapy
profession can adopt in order to contribute to the continuing wellness of humanity and how it may need to transform in order to prepare
itself to accost and overcome these challenges.

Key words: Digital revolution, global warming and climate change, global unrest, Pandemics, human displacement, unemployment, occupational
chaos and transformation

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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