CoronaWisdom Lesson #1

David Foecke
3 min readOct 4, 2022


Stay Home!

In the first few months of the pandemic, our species (you and I) reduced its production of global warming gases by an annualized eight percent , a bit more than what we know we would need to reduce CO2 production every year, to survive as a species.

We stopped global warming!

For a few months.

How did we do it? President Trump had not re-joined the Paris Climate Accord. Congress had not passed the Green New Deal. Boycotts had not transformed Exxon into a renewable energy company.

You and I made that happen.

Granted, we did what public health experts told us to do. But those orders were not new policy, big structural change, or a revolution.

We did that.

Our individual actions, collectively combined, made the greatest progress towards reversing global warming since the planetary thermometer began inching up.

We environmentalists tend to divert attention away from individual actions.

Take the bus instead of Uber? How would that really help? Forgo that seaweed snack — dried in a gas oven and shipped half a world away — that your Kindergartner loves? A drop in the bucket. A stay-cation instead of a transcontinental flight to an island paradise? Stop shaming me!

The director of, a leading organization in the fight to cool the planet, was asked in October 2018 by NPR’s Ray Suarez what people who feel powerless can do to stop global warming. Her answer? Three things: Vote. Mobilize. Social media.

No mention of individual consumption choices.

We want to focus instead on the real culprits! Greedy fossil fuel corporations. Corrupt politicians. Narcissistic presidents. Capitalism.

But we stopped the increase in global warming in its tracks, even before a green revolution.

The coronawise-us is inviting us to focus on our individual choices as much as we focus on structural change.

Yes, we need a (green) revolution. Deep structural change. Lots of people are working on that. Join us if you haven’t already.

But let it sink in. We did it — together — for a few months. We know how to save ourselves.

If we choose to.

Market economists remind us that that consumer expenditures are almost 70% percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

Translation: We — through our individual choices — pilot the airlines, build the factories in China, grow the palm oil plantations.

In a market economy, our individual choices turn the steering wheel.

No magic bullet, not even the Internet, can save us from … climate disruption, poison by pollution, and wholesale extinction of plant and animal species. We are going to have to want different things, seek different pleasures, pursue different goals than those that have been driving us and our global economy.

- Joanna Macy

During those first 3 months, a relative sent me an online story showing pre-COVID-19 satellite views of the planet, alongside the current photos.

Pollution. Gone.

They added, “I hope people will see this and make long-term changes.” Not a new thought to many of us environmentalists.

Problem is, the people we usually mean are other people.

If we look deeply at our individual choices during the first few months of the pandemic, we can no longer deny that — until the green economy revolution succeeds — we, together, could choose to make those temporary COVID-19 satellite images become the normal.


Here’s one clue from the coronawise-us: We stopped global warming by many of us staying home or close to home.

But who are the We who stayed home? Probably many of the 10% of us who actually cause 50% of global warming.

I’m in that 10%.

If you have enough privilege to be reading this, on a computer, on a page, anywhere, you’re probably in that 10% with me.

Many of us staying home (including some who couldn’t really afford to — yet) stopped global warming.

So let’s continue, or get back to, staying home (those of us who still can) and create a new normal that includes our survival.

Big structural change. Yes. A green revolution. Yes. In the meantime, like my wife and I repeat to our son almost daily, like broken records, “Let’s make wise choices.”



David Foecke

Co-founder: East Bay Meditation Center, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Cafe Flora.