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What Now…?

An editorial by, Ty Spencer Vossler

I’ve been pretty quiet lately. It’s time to think loud and clear.

Inevitably, the COVID-19 virus pandemic will ease up. Life will return to some semblance of normalcy (whatever that means). My question is: What then?

There is a right and a wrong answer to this question.

My biggest concern is that human’s will change the channel, and that the COVID virus will be compartmentalized, tucked into a crevice of memory only to reemerge when another pandemic strikes. The words Human Nature can easily be changed into something more accurate—HumanVS Nature. In the US, the government wasted little time in equating the pandemic with a war. We are fighting a war against the pandemic. I argue that this mentality does little to move us forward in our efforts to mitigate COVID 19. In fact, we need to focus more on what Mother Earth has been up to since the January outbreak.

Mother Earth is busy cleaning up after her messy, self-indulgent children.

On March 8, a Stanford University environmental resource economist, Marshall Burke, said that “it's very likely that the lives saved locally from the reduction in pollution will exceed COVID-19 deaths in China.” Two months of factory shutdowns, the reduction of traffic, and other pollutants in China has already saved the lives of 4,000 children under 5 and 73,000 adults.

The sudden drop in carbon emissions has been dramatic. The levels in New York compared with last year at this time are down by 50%. A year from now it will be startling to see the statistics showing how quickly Earth heals if given the opportunity.

Today in Venice, when you stare into the canals you can see right down to the bottom, and there are shoals of tiny fish, crabs and flourishing plant-life. Swans are retuning as well! Without human traffic, life is returning. It’s as if Earth is forgiving our sins, giving a second chance to its wayward children.

In California, we are fortunate to have good leadership, and for the most part Californians are following directives for physical distancing, sanitary practices, and leaving home for essential reasons only. This shows me that when push come to shove, we can work together. We have an unprecedented opportunity to use this pandemic to make Earth a cleaner more sustainable place to live for future generations.

It is evident that we cannot rely on leadership at the very top to do the right thing. Most likely, after the pandemic, China will reestablish business as usual. India will once again be blanketed in smog. Mexico City’s layer of contaminants will block the sun, and New York will quickly regress. Governments have a moral obligation to improve the quality of life, not degrade it for economic gain. Yet most of us outside of politics know this isn’t likely to happen. Within days, those in power will be clawing and fighting to regain control of their empires.The war against COVID-19 will become the war to elevate stock markets, the partisan war in Washington, religious wars in the Middle East, tit-for-tat wars, nation against nation pitting special interests. Those of us teaching, welding, constructing, providing medial services, delivering the mail, providing food—the work-force—we are caught in between.

The war we are fighting is with us. We are our own worst enemy. The truth is pounding on the door to be let in, yet we respond with deadbolts. We are not fighting the COVID-19 war. Our battle is reflected in the mirror, and what this crisis will lead to afterward. If we revert to what we were before, then we should consider the consequences.

We have the technology, brain-power, and the capability to crush oil and coal dependency. We have the capacity for sustainable farming, fishing, to leave a less evasive footprint, to greatly reducer negative impact on Earth. If we ignore the lessons learned from this pandemic, then we are committing suicide. What happens next is up to everyone. As a world we can work together. There is right and there is wrong. Forgetting lessons learned from the COVAT-19 pandemic is wrong. As for world governments—vote accordingly.

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