GIFTS FROM THE VIRUS
Even though the pandemic brought devastation to the far reaches of our planet, let’s focus for a moment on the gifts that came too. There are many. The one that stands out most brilliantly, is that we learned we can collectively save the earth. It was hard to be convinced before COVID that it was possible, but the evidence is clear. We saw seven billion people turn on a dime when they realized their health was in danger. It was messy but it happened. If the population of the world changed so quickly in response to a virus doesn’t that indicate the dangers of climate destabilization are not apparent to all citizens? The potential consequences are far worse than those from the virus. Wouldn’t the response to global warming be greater if everyone could see it? The coronavirus response proves the answer to those questions is yes!
Political divisions and corrupt leaders aside, the majority of people and nations chose to stay home. Some did it better than others, but when populations became aware their health was in imminent danger, they acted. It was the awareness of the danger that made them act. This shift was not simply from individuals acting out of fear. Yes, the virus is scary, but when the case between health and well-being through quarantining was made, people stayed home. People chose their health over the risk of themselves or their loved ones getting sick. They chose their health over their prosperity. They were acting out of newfound awareness, not acting out of fear.
This pinpoints the reason for our lack of an appropriate response to the climate crisis. What we have is an awareness problem. People and nations do not yet connect to the threat that the climate crisis means to their lives. This failure to understand how natural systems work and how we are threads in that tapestry, blurs the severity of the threat. We now know that people can act immediately even if it means tanking the economy. My money or my life? There was no question which came first. That is a beautiful reality.
The world response to the climate has focused largely on technology for answers to the crisis. These solutions have their role; however our timeline will not allow us to solve our problems using technology only. There’s been a long-standing belief in the environmental community that it’s important not to focus on the dire situation that we’re in, because fear is paralyzing. Paralysis results in inaction. The response to COVID-19 shows us that “knowledge is power”. As our awareness and education about climate destabilization and our ecological systems increases, so will the likelihood of our response. Yes, we need governments to act. But we just witnessed the power of individuals acting collectively through a checkered mix of governmental responses.
We need to create greater awareness of how the natural systems that we depend on work. We need to empower our citizens so that they can cross the bridge from knowing that they connect to the natural world, to realizing how they do. We need to develop that awareness in our people. While self-awareness ultimately is the answer, environmental awareness is the immediate next step.
The pandemic showed us how poised the earth is to recover, and how quickly it can. Air-quality improved, pollution declined, animals returned, and energy usage plummeted. Another gift from the virus…revealing our collective choices do matter.
"IF THE POPULATION OF THE WORLD CHANGED SO QUICKLY IN RESPONSE TO A VIRUS
DOESN'T THAT INDICATE THE DANGERS OF CLIMATE DESTABILIZATION
ARE NOT YET APPARENT TO ALL?"