We are creating a new normal – NOW
CLIMATE ACTIONS BENEFIT OUR HEALTH RIGHT NOW. WE CAN LEAD HEALTHIER LIVES RIGHT AWAY
The Current Situation
The pandemic is waking us up from living in a dream. “We climb into jet planes and fly across continents, never giving the accomplishment a second thought. We drive to grocery stores, assuming the shelves will be stocked with endless boxes of food. And every day we plug our devices into the wall, sure that electricity will flow from the outlet. Other than the occasional hurricane or earthquake, we have lived our whole lives taking for granted that this thing we call ‘civilization’ was a machine that could never fail.” https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/coronavirus-climate-change-pandemic-fire-drill-our-planet-s-future-ncna1169991
The pandemic is not a reason to put climate action on hold – it’s a warning of the calamities ahead. What’s happening to the planet isn’t going to stop just because we are dealing with another crisis, and this is no time to ease up on the climate fight. Because of the ways climate change contributes to poor health, it makes action even more urgent.
The two crises are not mutually exclusive. In a warming climate, there will be more diseases and viruses likely to emerge and spread.
To resume the status quo, to go back to our 40+ old lifestyle, would be a decision to make everything worse, and would speed up the planet not being livable for our children and grandchildren. Global heating is proceeding on its inexorable course, and it would be total madness to continue down this road.
“It will be a huge mistake if we attempt to return to ‘normal’ … If rapid, radical change is possible when circumstances demand it, what excuse is there for failing to act with similar urgency to prevent cataclysmic climate change? What can and should we do differently, now that we know doing things differently is possible?” https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/03/coronavirus-covid-19-capitalism-crisis-herd-immunity
Both crises demand early aggressive action to minimize loss. Confronting a crisis is far more difficult and expensive when it’s already on your doorstep. Whether it’s disease prevention or climate change, the gross amount of money spent, and the disruption to the economy, is far less when you invest in prevention than in managed chaos and recovery.
The need to act early on warnings is critical. Every year we wait to tackle the climate crisis means we have to hustle even harder.
People are afraid, overwhelmed and wondering what will happen next. People are looking for real leadership, for a “stubbornly optimistic” story they can keep and remember and hold onto. They want a way forward.
We are waking up from the sudden reality of the pandemic crisis and seeking new ways of tackling the climate crisis. The pandemic response is a glimpse of what is possible for fighting the climate crisis together: rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented societal changes that can be just and equitable, including a swift transition to renewable energy. We can seize the moment. The current pandemic makes the case that we really can take sweeping, difficult actions as a community to address a lethal threat.
We are seeing eruptions of incredible solidarity, of empathy, frankly, of love for neighbor, and it’s that mindset, that we are all in this together, that actually we can do big things if we collaborate radically with each other – that is going to help us also deal with the climate change crisis. Christiana Figueres. This solidarity during other crises is well known. https://lithub.com/rebecca-solnit-how-to-survive-a-disaster/ by Rebecca Solnit. Let us build on this, highlight this, remember this.
The pandemic is a glimpse of how the climate crisis will almost certainly change daily life. A staggering number of people have drastically changed their lifestyles for the greater good of humanity. People are prepared to adhere to major disruptions and to support them in the name of health and safety to the public. We now know you can ask people to radically do something we would not have thought possible. People are not driving their cars as much (the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions is driving). Working from home and not driving cars is drastically reducing air pollution. People are avoiding air travel, another big cause of air pollution. We can do this as well to tackle the climate crisis.
The pandemic has reshaped the way we live, work, and interact in a matter of weeks. It has shown that governments are able – and in many cases are expected – to take swift, significant action on crises. It is possible to change large-scale patterns of human behavior, pretty quickly.
In a real crisis situation, such as the climate crisis, people do expect their government to be strong and take quick decisions. The global pandemic shows us that this kind of rapid government action is possible and effective.
The pandemic has revealed what measures are possible in an emergency, and a new way of operating for governments. The government can spend anything to tackle a crisis, and the response to an emergency can be swift and decisive.
While governments are tackling the pandemic, they can start considering how to use their emergency powers to redevelop the global economy to adjust to a fossil fuel-free world. Every government agency and elected official can begin today to ponder how their work to tackle the pandemic crisis can pivot to tackling the climate crisis once the pandemic subsides.
Both crises require the kind of large-scale structural interventions produced by national and international policies, like designing more sustainable infrastructure and transportation and alternate work arrangements, as well as creating emergency responses and strengthening social safety nets for the most vulnerable.
The unprecedented global mobilization to tackle the pandemic might pave the way for more dramatic climate action. It can be said that the global mobilization is helping us practice how to respond together to the climate crisis – emerging new infrastructure, new coordination and communication, using the emergency laws.
We are witnessing how all governments can come up with the means to build the infrastructure needed to fully roll out renewable energy to get people off of the fossil fuel grid and onto a clean grid right away, can come up with the means to support farmers’ transition to regenerative agriculture, reallocation of resources, etc. We must be ready. A wildly ambitious mobilization could happen quite quickly because we do actually know what needs to happen.
For the pandemic, Government responses have included suspending evictions, utility payments, guaranteed paid sick leave, income support. Similarly, tackling the climate crisis must provide relief for those who lose their jobs, e.g., income support for fossil fuel workers and others, such as those who need to regenerate agriculture, etc.
While it is desirable for leadership at the national level, if we don’t manage to elect a new president “who see[s] far-reaching action on climate change as their absolute first priority and who [is] prepared to act on the first day [he or she] takes office,” The Future We Choose, Surviving the Climate Crisis, Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac, pg. 152, state and local elected officials have the same emergency power they are using for the pandemic crisis. State governments, mayors, and chairs of county boards, are declaring an emergency to use their emergency powers, and can use those same powers to tackle the climate crisis.
With the emergency laws in place now, governments can, depending on the applicable laws, direct private industry to produce things, such as electric cars, build vast new rail infrastructure, quickly upgrade all electrical grids, install rooftop solar modules, plant trillions of trees, support farmers while transitioning to regenerative agriculture, paint roofs white, install broadband everywhere, make all buildings energy efficient, reforestation, massive plantings of shady groves of nut and fruit orchards, wind powered mini grids in communities, rebuild, reorganize and restructure our lives to live in a more localized way, etc. etc. With the pandemic we have seen the way the world has been able to mobilize itself and shut down in a blink of an eye to respond to the crisis.
We can’t avoid seeing on a tangible, geophysical level, that when you spurn regeneration, collaboration, and community, the consequence is impending devastation.
We can emerge from both the pandemic crisis and “the climate crisis as more mature members of the community of life, capable not only of restoring ecosystems, but also of unfolding our dormant potential of human strength and discernment. Humans are only ever as doomed as we believe ourselves to be. Vanquishing that belief is our true legacy. The Future We Choose, pg. 33.
The dark forces “does all it can to diminish our work, and say it had nothing to do with anything. Remember, they need us to be disengaged – to give up on, change and focus on buying things, taking a trip, living our lives as though millions aren’t suffering [around the world], as though the world we’re leaving behind us isn’t going to be radically diminished.” https://medium.com/@enjohnston/loving-a-vanishing-world-ace33c11fe0 by Emily Johnston, 350.org Washington, 5/5/2019.
The choice is clearly and simply described in the PDF.
Imagine with me for a moment-
don’t worry, I’m not saying it’s real.
Imagine, if you can, that there has been
not a calamity, but a great awakening.
Pretend, just for a moment, that we all so loved our threatened earth
that we stopped going on cruises,
limited international flights,
worked on cherishing the places
where we already are.
In this pretty fantasy, everyone who possibly can
stops commuting. Spends the extra time
with their kids or pets or garden.
We have the revelation that everyone
needs health care, sick leave, steady work.
It occurs to us that health care workers
are heroes. Also teachers.
Not to mention the artists of all kinds
who teach us resilience and joy.
Imagine, if you will.
that we turned to our neighbors
in mutual aid, trading eggs for milk,
checking in on those who are elderly
or alone. Imagine that each of us
felt suddenly called to wonder
In this moment, what does the world
need from me? What are my gifts?
Yes, I know, it’s just a fantasy.
The world could never change
so radically overnight.
– Lynn Ungar
This is a rough compilation of very recent articles coming out every day as more and more people are tying the climate and COVID-19 pandemic crises together.
ARTICLES ABOUT THE NEW NORMAL NOW
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-solutions-coronavirus-climate-change-same_n_5e908f19c5b6260471e0d840 “The Solutions to coronavirus and climate change are the same,” Dr. Aaron Bernstein
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/coronavirus-is-changing-habits-of-mind/609181/ “The virus is a reminder of something lost long ago,” Alan Lightman
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/15/christiana-figueres-climate-emergency-this-is-the-decade-the-future-we-choose “Christiana Figueres on the climate emergency: ‘This is the decade and we are the generation,” Damian Carrington
As we create the New Normal NOW, adopting these six actions will Save the Sick & Rescue the Planet –https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/28/opinion/coronavirus-climate-antonio-guterres.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
“Imagining a better life after the coronavirus,” Jonathan Malesic
“The environmental upside of the virus shows the green way ahead,” Monica Medina & Miro Korenha
“Saving people from coronavirus can teach us how to do the same for climate change,” Reynard Loki
“Is life during coronavirus how we will live during climate change?” by Eve Andrews
“The pandemic made ‘unthinkable’ reforms a reality – now to make them permanent,” Francis Tseng & Daria Vaisman
“Pollution made the pandemic worse, but lockdowns clean the sky,” Beth Gardiner
Climate change denial – a case study https://mn350.org/2020/04/climate-change-denial-a-case-study/
Pandemic side effects offer glimpse of alternative future on Earth Day – – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/22/environment-pandemic-side-effects-earth-day-coronavirus
It’s positively alpine! Disbelief in big cities as air pollution falls. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/11/positively-alpine-disbelief-air-pollution-falls-lockdown-coronavirus?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR1GBTo81QkbhKlVo8GVKMtD54GVWpxUAU5VJfXOQGeY375p2636-cPKZ28
Telework could outlive the virus, lowering emissions – https://www.eenews.net/stories/1062989217#_=_