Diary Entry: An Evolving World

Diary Entry: An Evolving World

As a volunteer for Mother Earth, it is great to see something finally happening for the planet…..

We have ignored trash building up in our environment, expecting someone else to clear it up or it to magically disappear. And when we see a stash of trash, we seem compelled to add to the growing pile! And when the wind blows it around, we simply step over it.

As asthma & eczema cases rise in our different city societies, we have ignored the detrimental health effects of our bad air. We continue to drive NO2 (Nitrogen Oxide) belching cars and sit in abysmal traffic conditions, accepting all of this as normal.

The rich nations have a mountain of an issue with single-use / disposable waste, and yet cannot stop using it, as we are now global economies wanting anything from anywhere. We put it in our bins and the problem is shipped to a developing country to deal with. When the volume of waste this has highlighted, our rich societies have simply shrugged and said the governments need to deal with it. As our societies evolve we don’t want to take responsibility for the generation of food waste, clothes waste, energy waste, water waste…… despite the pictures of animals with plastic waste in their gut, documentaries on the mountain of clothes waste being incinerated, waste being dumped into the oceans, fresh water shortage warnings being announced….We have been too busy to really care about the environmental impact with one of those reasons being we don’t want to compromise the way we live and too many have admonished the ones that care. Have heard too many people with too much money simply state “it’s not in my backyard” and carry on generating 240 litre bins of waste, many still engage in “wishful” recycling (put everything in the recycle bin regardless).

Busy, busy, busy
Image from https://www.forbes.com/sites/timmaurer/2017/03/11/why-busyness-isnt-good-business/

So mother nature has thrown at us: hurricanes, tornados, flooding, landslides, tsunamis, belched our waste back onto our shores ….. and in 2019 the world was on fire and finally public concern grew. Global voices asked organisations & governments to take the man-made green house gas emissions and pollution more seriously, but governments faltered. It has always been about balancing harming the environment or harming the economy to protect our superficial lifestyles that seem to bring us more diseases.

Or maybe this should say People or the Economy?

Now Mother Nature is losing patience with our blind side, so in comes the invisible – covid-19. Rich nations watched China, South Korea, and Singapore wrestle with it and for some reason the media downplayed the seriousness of the disease… as if it was no worst than a bad cold, despite the death warnings in China. Mother Nature knew that these rich nations would be too slow to respond. How clever is Mother Nature? She tested mankind with SARS and Ebola and saw how they responded. Something with a nasty side effect is treated very seriously, yet something like the common cold has been allowed to weave in and out through societies. Workers with the common cold (or even the start of flu) have often turned up to work sick or sick travelers have boarded flight and infected others without batting an eyelid.

Covid-19 has an insidious nature. It looks beautiful in pictures, swimming in droplets of fluid expelled from our noses and mouth, remaining on surfaces from some hours to some days depending on the material. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200317-covid-19-how-long-does-the-coronavirus-last-on-surfaces

Keep at least a 2 metre distance from each other

And so covid-19 slipped through the control nets and when the reported cases were low and governments had the opportunity to stop it in its tracks, just like SARS and Ebola, governments instead dilly dallied. Very quickly the decision transformed to sacrifice people to ensure continued economic success. Prime Ministers, Presidents and Ministers continued to down play the seriousness of the disease and even now some are giving false hope to the reality (Bolsarno).

When the first 23 cases were detected in the UK, my brother, in Singapore, asked me what the UK would be doing. I responded, think they want the UK to be at the top of the league table as they want to go for herd immunity. However Italy showed us that an overwhelmed health system would mean many more would die. The horse bolted and now the rich countries are exporting the virus to other lands. We assume we are clean but we never know what we have touched.

24 March 2020 – Snapshot of https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Deaths have always been part of a natural disaster, but we have never really paid attention when it is not in our face. Even now the story line is that it is killing just the elderly and so many young could not see the issue. The CDC has indicated 47% of people from 20 to 54 have been hospitalised. Additionally it has been observed that the virus can reduce our lung capacity by 20% https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2020/facts-the-coronavirus-does-affect-younger-people-can-decrease-lung-capacity-after-recovery-and-is-easily-destroyed-by-soap/

But like Yin and Yan, there is light in the darkness

With enforced lock downs, we are now evolving our work practices, travel, and what we really need. So far the places that have the highest death rates are also places with high pollution from manufacturing and the number of cars. With the lock downs and travel restrictions, the world is witnessing some healing of our planet within a short time. Just like the pollution reducing over China, the same has been reported happening in South Korea & Northern Italy with clearer water being reported in Venice due to the lack of boats traveling up and down.

Monks, the former chair of the UK government’s science advisory committee on air quality, said that a reduction in air pollution could bring some health benefits, though they were unlikely to offset loss of life from the disease.

“It seems entirely probable that a reduction in air pollution will be beneficial to people in susceptible categories, for example some asthma sufferers,” he said. “It could reduce the spread of disease. A high level of air pollution exacerbates viral uptake because it inflames and lowers immunity.” Agriculture could also get a boost because pollution stunts plant growth, he added.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/23/coronavirus-pandemic-leading-to-huge-drop-in-air-pollution

The Short Term Future

Governments have indicated a vaccine will come in the next 18 months-24 months. Tests are important so that our future unborn children are safe. Thalidomide which was supposed to be a wonder drug to help morning sickness, caused genetic mutations in the children for the women who took the drug. (https://thalidomide.ca/en/what-is-thalidomide/)

Hence a series of waves of infections and control measures has been forecasted to happen at least for the rest of this year which hopefully will mean more improvements to our air and water quality. Our natural world can breathe.

Image result for flatten the curve coronavirus

Benefits to Keeping the Curve As flat as possible

  • Reduced Waste: Whilst large mass events want to happen, am expecting none to happen due to the risk of mass infection. The Japan Olympics has just been postponed to 2021. This means less rubbish (memorabilia items) being manufactured for items towards those events – t-shirts; single-use cups; single-use bottles; packaging.

    As we all pause for thought, how can large mass events redesign themselves to be low carbon, zero waste?
  • Reduced Carbon Emissions:
    • Flights: Expect a big down turn as assume people will be unable to simply to hop over to any country for a couple of days or even a couple of weeks without first being quarantined. Perhaps you will need to show a certificate of whether you have had the virus or not. Additionally more overseas meetings will be conducted online.

      Perhaps offices should investigate virtual meetings and we can all choose our avatars.
    • Car Travel: This should reduce as office workers learn they can work remotely. Working from home means less time wasted traveling and thus more time to get fit, fix the house, etc.

      Warning limit your time on social media otherwise it will suck your newly acquired time away.
    • Manufacturing: Lock downs are causing non-essential shops to close like fast fashion. Having to work from home also means we get to work in our pyjamas (yah) so less clothes actually needed. I have bought very little clothing during my life so far as am mostly reusing my mother’s work clothes from many decades ago!!

      Companies should take the time to re-evaluate their position. With the start of the global recession some you will not make it to the other side of this virus. Can you find better more environmentally friendly ways to produce. Do you really need to use single-use packaging all the time.

Soooo with mankind’s apathy to mother nature’s virus, our world is being forced to change. Just like the UK government tried to let the people make the changes and then forced the changes, so too has Mother Nature forced a change for a period that will renormalise normal.

After this, future generations and governments will have a baseline they can truly understand to measure our impact on our natural world.

So enjoy the better air quality and clearer waters….let’s get the mantra going…Reduce, Reuse, Repair – and when you come into the house wash your hands properly and leave your outdoor potentially viral infected shoes at the door and most importantly keep your distance. Please teach your kids to do the same especially to keep their distance.

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