2020 – Reflections as Lockdown Eases

Looking back I recollect that in February I renewed my travel vaccines, as I prepared for a photographic tour of a lifetime to the Galapagos Islands. Shops were trading, restaurants were serving and I had just visited the RA’s exhibition, Eco-Visionaries. But within a month everything changed, we were occupying a new space in a new time to reflect. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with rapid speed an unprecedented change to our daily lives. Not only are our governments, public services and businesses looking over the precipice of disaster, but also ourselves. We hold our breath and whisper ‘How many more will need to die?’

This experience enables us to imagine the effects of another global crisis with greater clarity – the 1.5 or even 3 degree warming which is predicted by the majority of world scientist (IPCC). There will be drought, floods and food shortages and this will happen if there is not a permanent turnaround in the way we live. Following this pandemic, I accept we shall need to bring the economy back to a sustainable balance, but there will remain the urgency to bring our planet back to a sustainable balance. Humanity’s survival and nature’s health systems are intrinsically linked. 

Recent restrictions have given us the evidence of what can be achieved if humanity works together to climb out of an abyss. Our challenge is to stay in the mindset of emergency and to reengineer life styles in order to turn around our climate crisis. It will be up to us who have witnessed and survived our current alternate world. We need to fight against a reduction to restrictions, which have benefited our planet’s health and a re-escalation of unnecessary profiteering. We also need to review our own practices

During this lock down, whilst spending time in my greenhouse, I reflected the true cost of my own 21st century life style. I pondered on the extraordinary acts of bravery, selflessness and sacrifice of health and care workers. I have cancelled my Galapagos trip and shall not fly again – a decision which I admit comes with a feeling of regret but also with an understanding as I look up at the very blue and flawless canopy over my greenhouse. One long haul flight produces the same amount of damaging emissions as 80 average residents of Tanzania do in an entire year. 

My hope is within a year we can all live a full life again but with a lower need for fossil fuels, environmental destruction and unnecessary products – a life without lock down, without fear, without world famine. We have witnessed communities reuniting, wars ceasing and street gangs delivering food. We have heard birds singing. We have learnt we can together make a difference and start to reverse a pandemic. Let use stay connected to each other and to nature.

References

Baker. P.C. 2020 ‘We can’t go back to normal: How will Corona virus change the world?’ In: The Guardian [online] At:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/31/how-will-the-world-emerge-from-the-coronavirus-crisis (Accessed on 31 March 2020)

Klein. N. (2014)  This Changes Everything. Capitalism vs.The Climate. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Solnit, R. (2004) Hope in the Dark. London: Canongate Books Ltd.

Sullivan. A. (2020) To fly or not to fly? The environmental cost of air travel. In: Made for Minds [online] At: https://www.dw.com/en/to-fly-or-not-to-fly-the-environmental-cost-of-air-travel/a-42090155 (Accessed on 21 April 2020)

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