Unlike projected environmental havoc, the pandemic is now.
While governments all over the world deny the climate crisis, Mother Nature plotted her wake-up call. Wounded, she waited until human-induced climate change brought about the perfect environment for coronavirus to appear in a new configuration, to mutate as it transferred from birds to animals to humans. In humans, fourteen days to incubate and three to destroy the lungs of vulnerable populations while they spread the disease to everyone they meet. Death became real and now, not some distant retribution for destroying the planet.
ignore environmental threats
Children march every Friday because they don’t want to live in a “Mad Max” world, and neither does 98% of the world’s population. Adults in the room oversee energy utilities, fossil fuel production and use, manufacturing of plastics, one-time-use products, and tons of waste. Especially in America, the mighty men of power and privilege speak of wishes, promises, and plans which, at that moment, would be impossible to implement – time, money, retooling, and current investments. Forget the future. Forget the damage to all species on earth. Forget that all life forms are interconnected.
Life is forced to change.
To stop transferring the virus, people had to self-isolate. No more going to jobs unless deemed critical. No more dining out or traveling. No more family gatherings. Or concerts. Or “going out” with friends. Nope. The only way to defeat the spread of COVID-19 was to stay home, and if possible, work from home. If working from home was not possible, and the nature of the work was not critical, people were forced to walk off or get fired from their jobs.
The carbon fog lifts as factories shut down and traffic disappears.
An ignored Mother Nature has figured out how to shut down most of the world’s industry – pandemics. Each minuscule rise in temperature gives another coronavirus the perfect environment to emerge, infect birds, mutate, infect animals, mutate, infect people, mutate and spread. Our defense starts with population containment, which has served Mother Nature’s purpose.
- In China, the cities affected were ghost towns. Nothing moved except health workers. No gas-driven engines clogged the streets. Factories closed. No fuel-driven turbines sending smoke into the atmosphere. The engines of industry ground to a halt. Days into the shutdown, the skies were bluer, the air cleaner, and the greenhouse gases much lower.
- In Italy after the country shut down, in addition to clean air and lower greenhouse gases. Venice canals, for the first time in living memory, flowed clear and fish had returned.
- In America, my friend who lives in California reports, “I was looking at the San Gabriel mountains from my home in Pasadena, California. And I realized I could see details on those mountains I had never seen before. It was as if I had put on a pair of glasses and the mountain range snapped into focus. The veil of smog had been lifted.”
Impossible now possible and happening.
As in the Exodus story, the plague has set us free. The pharaohs of our time had to do everything they said they couldn’t. They had to shut down manufacturing, close the leisure/travel industry, and promote telecommuting. Without cars, trucks, and planes polluting the air and without manufacturing and boats polluting the water, our resources are recovering. The pharaohs had said, “No we can’t,” and found out “Yes, we can.”
What happens next, after the virus?
In this crisis, expected to peak again in the fall, governments and businesses, non-profits and corporations, full-time/part-time workers, salaried/hourly workers, small businesses/contractors/consultants all have a chance to define the new normal.
- How do we make sure we’re prepared to avoid the fear and panic of this and other pandemics?
- How do we ensure that everyone has access to the support systems they need? How do we make sure that everyone on the frontlines has the equipment and protection they need to keep themselves safe and treat the patients?
- With many factories shut down. Isn’t this a good time to look at how to reduce redundancy, waste, fuel, and pollution? Corporate talk in support of a sustainable future can be turned into actual plans to be implemented as soon as the “quarantine” is lifted and before going back into full-scale production.
- On the Good Men Projects Environmental call, Thursday nights at 8 EST, we’ve even talked about how about an annual 30-day shutdown (with paid leave) of production to cleanse the air and reinvigorate employees.
We can’t go back
I don’t pretend to have the answers. However, I do know now is the best time to ask the questions. Online think tanks could harness the energy and reinvigorate the lethargy of the homebound. Living through a problem is the best time to evaluate the best way to be prepared for the next time. If we miss this chance to rethink and institute actions for the future, we risk having no future at all.
The new normal starts now.
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