Man’s Footprint and its consequences
Do you believe there is a connection between the appearance of the virus that causes Covid-19 and the disturbance of the natural environment? I posed this question recently in a meeting which had been transferred to an on-line app, because of the current lockdown. The suggestions was met with silence other than the response of one participant who said, “Grace, do you believe there is an association?” I could determine through the sound of his voice he was totally sceptical of my perspective.
“Yes,” I responded tentatively. And then I found myself launching into my understanding of the present predicament. “I believe that because of our destruction of forests and savannahs, wild animals are venturing into populated areas, bringing us into the orbit of viruses which cause deadly diseases.”
Habit of Consumption
My comment was met with a deathly silence. It is now one week later and I have been listening to some enlightening presentations in a range of on-line meetings. Consistently I am hearing about the detrimental effects of the selfish habits of consumption perpetrated by the human species. Whilst this tendency was recorded for the first time over a century ago, consumerism has seriously escalated during the past couple of decades, accelerating the deteriorating conditions of our environment.
Early Warnings of a Pandemic
Bill Gates in his TED talk of 2014 predicted this outbreak. He lamented the fact that so much attention and money was being put towards the deterrence of a nuclear attack, but yet little was being done about the probability of a major attack by viruses in the near future.
Now, my concerns are around how we are going to live our lives when the period of quarantine is behind us and we find ourselves having to adapt to very different circumstances. Those who are resilient and who welcome change will cope much better with the psychological and economic challenges of the immediate future. We need to be prepared to have our value system challenged. It will be a decade in which a major adaption of both life style and attitude will be demanded.
We will all Need to Change our Life Style and Values
I believe that the largest adjustments will need to be undertaken by those who are financially stable at this moment in time. For some years I have been suggesting to my family and social circle that I believe that a key disconnect in our world is the acceleration of the size of the Gini Index. That is the statistical measure of the distribution of wealth between the rich and the poor. The larger the index, the greater the inequality. I believe it is a crime that the 10 richest people in the world own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50% of the world’s population.
I predict that the role of the professionals who deal with mental health problems will be very much in demand. It is one thing to survive the present ordeal physically intact, but another to cope with the stresses of the situation and emerge without the effects of this traumatic experience embedded in our psyche.
Role of the Internet going Forward
There is no doubt that the role of the internet will be crucial in terms of future health and future business. Being a boomer, and having learned the internet in my late 50’s, I am pleased that I did not grow up in an era that the internet formed a major part of my entertainment.
I have been using my computer for at least 6 hours a day for the past couple of weeks since I have not been allowed to leave my home except to shop, or to visit the doctor. During that time I have not played one video game, nor have I visited my Facebook Website. But I have discovered two outlets for my curiosity and my edification. Chris Anderson or TED has been interviewing thought leaders on how best to navigate the present challenges of the lockdown. And Elders for Climate Action have been running some beautiful seminars to help people to adapt to a life style which is more sustainable.
Yes, we are all going to need to adjust to a very new world. We need to work on our resilience. Maintain our physical health despite the confinement. Ensure that our entertainment is directed toward finding healthy outlets rather than mindless pursuits.
Let us Hope a New and Better Era Emerges
We will come out of this with a greater understanding of the human condition. Mankind has survived many challenges of the past. After World War 2, new international organisations like the World Health Organisation were formed. So, despite the hardship and the loss of life, let us be optimistic that mankind will find more sustainable ways to co-operate with each other and the planet on which we depend.