The virus within
The global community is showing public will. This proves that we can also combat climate change with the same sense of urgency.
When I hear about the reactions and actions being taken to prevent the spread of a virus such as COVID-19, and the global community sitting up and taking notice, I wonder, why isn’t global warming, or plastic pollution being tackled the same way? To limit the spread of a virus, urgent policy-level decisions are being taken on an unprecedented scale. So, we know that political will and mass shifts in our lifestyle can be mobilized.
I’ve been looking at this scenario as an opportunity for companies to go fully remote. Most freelancers, including me, have not had to change our lifestyles much, as we’re used to working remotely. We’re already using technology all around us. If we could reduce our commute to work, we’d significantly reduce the fuel emissions from transportation. [I’m ignoring the fact that electricity is still largely produced through fossil fuels, but alternative, green energy is increasingly becoming cheaper, and it will only be a matter of time, before we ditch coal, in favour of solar and wind energy]
For a better quality of life
With remote working, we’d also be less stressed. I’ve had serious health problems in the past, which, in hindsight, I can directly correlate with my work environment. Ever since I quit and started taking life easier, it’s led to a significant improvement in my wellbeing, and those of my loved ones — because, if a loved one is ill, it impacts the family as a whole.
Moreover, a majority of workers in large cities come from smaller towns and villages, where employment is hard to come by. Our cities are over-burdened today. There are far more people who need to share a limited space to eat and live in, resulting in poor quality of life. Many ‘homes’ are packed into a small area, with poor ventilation, no sunlight, and pretty much no road space around, making it impossible for emergency services to reach those areas.
Remote working can allow many people to remain with their families and still be employed, instead of living in sub-optimal conditions, away from families. A happier population, is a more productive, and safe one.
One step indoors, one giant leap for the planet
Our largest problem, as a human race, is probably inertia. Our climate is changing at an exponentially faster rate. Droughts, floods, and unseasonal rain are already destroying crops. If we’re not going to get nutritious food to eat, it would be much worse than any disease outbreak.
If COVID-19 has shown us something, it’s that it is possible to change lifestyles, if we want to.
At an individual level, simple steps like carrying our own cloth-grocery bags to shop, segregating waste, composting at home, using public transport — after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, of course) — and encouraging remote work till then, can go a long way.
Social distancing for bringing families closer
The outbreak will subside, maybe not immediately, but eventually, it will go away. Right now, it may seem frustrating to spend time at home, in quarantine. Let’s use this opportunity to reconnect with ourselves, and our families. For those who are perhaps too young to know a time before the internet, this is also a great opportunity to learn what hobbies are — there is only so much time one can spend scrolling through social media feed. Let’s go analog, for a change. Recycling, and upcycling old stuff at home can be a great way to spend weekends with family. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it :)