I know I’ve repeated it many times but humanity’s key problem is that it sees itself as apart from Nature.
As we go through the Covid pandemic, it is easy to perceive the pandemic as just a medical problem but in reality it needs to be considered in its wider context of globalisation and humanity’s segregation. As such the pandemic is one form of the evolving ecological catastrophe that we have brought upon ourselves.
The speed of spread that saw the virus move from a city in China around the globe was of course helped by its “R” number being around 3 (every person infects three others) but remember too that the virus moved rapidly because it was being carried by humans who were also moving rapidly. At the time of the 1920’s pandemic the journey from China to the UK would have taken a few weeks rather than a few hours. If we go back further in history to the times of the plagues, that journey would have taken months.
Not only has our globalised society led to the extremely rapid spread of the disease but it seems that humanity’s failure to treat other non-human persons with respect, i.e. the animals in Wuhan’s wet markets, may have triggered the birth of the virus too.
But as we start to look back at the past couple of months, as we wonder whether there will be a second peak, we seem to be forgetting that there is a far bigger peak coming. Climate change.
We may have flattened the curve but if we return to “normal”, not that there was anything remotely normal about our globalised unnatural lifestyles, we risk losing any insights that we may have had over the past few weeks.
We risk forgetting who the key workers are. Who keeps us alive, not just with health care but with food, heating and public transport.
We risk returning to the high levels of air pollution, the ridiculous flights for holidays and breakettes, the pre-covid living that caused the pandemic and other parts of the sixth mass extinction.
So we must not return to normal. We must take stock, evaluate what is important, start paying key worker more than bankers, and we must find our connections with the land, sea and sky.