Opinion: Life after 2020 cannot continue as usual

To say that it’s been a minute since I’ve last written something would be an understatement, to say the least. With graduate school wrapping up and a project over environmental preservation turned into another blog becoming an endeavor of mine, enough has been happening in my life to where I can finally take a pause and return to writing my thoughts and perspectives.

And what a time to return to this.

In the last five months alone, the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus (which emerged in Wuhan, China as early as November of 2019) has sickened millions across the globe and left well over 200,000 dead. Food and grocery supply chains are being disrupted because of a lack of demand, barring toilet paper of all things. Workforce entities are forced to reduce hours or shutter doors to the general public, and is leading to the furlough and/or unemployment of millions across the world (in the United States, where this is coming from, over 30 million working aged adults have filed for unemployment, leading some to fear that a crisis akin to the Great Depression is on the horizon). However, the real icing on the cake has been the underwhelming response of many state and federal authorities with regard to containment of the virus, be it lax social distancing and hair shop closure enforcement by governors; indifference to gun-brandishing maniacs screaming for their never-imperiled liberties to be returned; or the lack of leadership from said authorities who waited on the perceived “hoax” to vanish into thin air.

Despite all this, though, some positive change has been observed. From animals and wildlife roaming empty streets and parks to more individuals having the option to work from their own home, the quietness of the current world states has its own set of gems. Additionally, while some emissions will inevitably resume as the world slowly reopens, total carbon emissions have decreased while smog in places like India clear for the first time in years.

Life as each of us knows it is either gone or will be changed. The onset of certain attitudes born from this calamity will cement themselves in the way we each carry on with our lives, and will force us to make a change in these routines. However, as the last paragraph has shown, it won’t be entirely bad. With this, I would like to share some ideas about how we could resume life while adapting to a different world – and, potentially, adapt to the progression that it is making, whether we like it or not.

Personal Health

It’s been oft repeated throughout the news cycles that it is mostly the elderly or the immuno-compromised that faced the greatest threat from COVID-19. While this doesn’t mean that those in younger or healthier age groups are immune to getting sick, it should bring to the forefront of our minds the needs to protect the most vulnerable. Therefore, we must do our own part in keeping as many safe as we can, from changing dietary habits to such a simple act as washing hands. No strategy is foolproof, but something is better than nothing, especially if rumors of a Second Wave are to be believed.

The Workplace

When it comes down to the type of job that you have, the pandemic has helped to categorize everything as “essential” or “non-essential.” The pandemic may be far from over, but it wouldn’t hurt to look at different approaches to the overall workplace during and after all of this. Many companies, in fact, are examining potential routes of working from home or remotely, with names as big as Twitter and Facebook even considering letting some staff make a permanent shift.

This not only would encourage newfound social distancing between co-workers, but makes for happier employees. One might also make the argument that it would save the organization money in that it wouldn’t have to potentially host so many people in such a limited space. Of course, not all jobs will be able to be done from home in even a partial capacity (ex: we’re never not going to need nurses, mechanics, grocers, etc.), but organizations that are able to make something happen should take advantage of the opportunity while it presents itself.

The Environment

As mentioned, the lock down of a fairly sizable fraction of humanity resulted in business-as-usual unable to fully take place, which itself manifested in global carbon emission reductions. Not only were physical landscapes able to recover briefly with flora and fauna, but carbon emissions as a whole were down to levels not seen since 2006.

Unfortunately, with the world slowly opening up, this particular victory for the earth is short lived. Even so, this ties in somewhat with the previous point in that lifestyle changes can be made for a more positive impact on oneself and the world. Individuals and activists were already calling for resolutions to the climate crisis to be enacted or taken seriously, and the effects of the lock down and the reduction in emissions stands as a testament to what can recover without the smog of fossil fuels (which, unlike solar and wind, isn’t really renewable). Barring the stubborn shortsightedness of leaders desperately clinging on to the success of oil moguls, many countries (and individuals) around the world are now working to preserve some of the present beauty while making a transition to less oily energy. Said transition shouldn’t happen overnight, but a commitment to shifting practices with a series of proactive steps should be part of the groundwork for moving forward from this present point.

Final Thoughts

Life, as we know it, won’t be the same after we get through this. It may contain a semblance of what was, but there will be an undercurrent that hides beneath the facade of perceived normalcy. When we decide to move forward, we need to look at the whole picture and observe the virtues and evils that occurred during the scourge, what led us to that point, and a choice when we decide to move on. Either we learn from this pause and track a more stable path should the shadow return, or we defend non-endangered liberties with reckless abandon and damn ourselves to a potentially worse outcome.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to chime in, but please keep the conversation civil.

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