A Time To Take Stock

Dear Reader,

A Buddhist-created public garden in the middle of England
that no-one now visits because of COVID-19
The impact of COVID-19  is, clearly, enormous. Not only the unexpected loss of so many loved ones but also the economic impact, and also - I suggest - the psychological impact. I just wonder, therefore, how much more the psychological impact was when the 'flu pandemic of 100 years ago hit, and when millions were erased from the planet. Or the Black Death of 1348-49.

We have grown very much accustomed to thinking the over-comfortable thought that we humans had become virtually untouchable. We thought that science - medicine - had pretty well all health issues under control. Experts had thought over recent decades that a large pandemic could easily come our way, but we did not listen to that properly, just as we did not listen to the warnings about Climate Change and our over-dependence on fossil fuels.

The western world, in particular, has been on a trajectory of seemingly never-ending technological development and consequential economic growth. My own lifetime (since World War 2) has seen huge increases in our ease of living and freedom of living that could never have been predicted. But I have to say a good percentage of that 'benefit' has been useless with respect to its effect: it has given too many people a false idea of what human beings are about. And thanks to the form of brain-washing that our educational system has brought, the great spiritual masters and people of true wisdom are effectively looked at as being 'weirdos'. Until that is, people in the 'rat race' start to wonder what it's all about and look for ways to escape.

And now we contemplate the bigger cost - the cost to planet Earth.

Whilst we live under the cloud of COVID-19, the first four months in this year has already seen a remarkable showcase for existential and catastrophic risk. A severe drought, devastating bushfires, hazardous smoke, towns running dry – these events all demonstrate the consequences of human-induced Climate Change.

A Science Alert has isolated ten potentially catastrophic threats to human survival. Not prioritised over one another, these risks are:

  1. the decline of natural resources, particularly water 
  2. the collapse of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity
  3. human population growth beyond Earth's carrying capacity
  4. global warming and human-induced climate change
  5. chemical pollution of the Earth system, including the atmosphere and oceans
  6. rising food insecurity and failing nutritional quality
  7. nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
  8. pandemics of new and untreatable disease
  9. the advent of powerful, uncontrolled new technology
  10. the national and global failure to understand and act preventatively on these risks.
On top of all this, there are indicators to suggest that COVID-19 (and any future virus of this nature) thrives on the unhealthy atmosphere that has been generated. COVID-19 has been detected on particles of air pollution by scientists looking into whether the illness could be carried this way over long distances and potentially increase the infection rate.

It's most interesting though that, while lockdown has been going on, nature has been quick to respond - even the Venetian waterways have been cleansed as a result and are showing plenty of life: dolphins and jellyfish have made an appearance. Pollution levels in major cities have been halved in some cases.

Now - surely - is the time to take stock ... and then plan to live differently. Let us collectively say "No" to the government: "No" to any "return to normal". 

The government - all governments - are not telling us the total truth anyway. While our government talks of the economy being returned into great shape, the food chain is being rapidly altered by Climate Change. Who will buy our goods if they have no foodstuffs to sell us? Let alone the state of the oceans.

For our children's sake - and, more importantly, the sake of the planet and the life on it - there cannot be a "return to normal" if we are to tackle Climate Change and its effect! There cannot be a "return to normal" anyway, so we might as well look to do what real wisdom (not worldly wisdom) should tell us to do.

Thank you for reading this!


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