Updated: May 29, 2020
by Sherri Jackson
Any delusion that human beings are in charge of this planet has been shattered by COVID-19. Mother Nature is not amused; and she is demonstrating precisely who is in control. With one highly contagious novel virus, our way of life, and the lives of billions of people have ground to a screeching halt within a matter of weeks. The Pandemic has impacted every one of us. It is devastating, frightening, and overwhelming.
We find ourselves in an unprecedented situation, where suddenly humanity has a common goal: to ensure survival, “flatten the curve” and protect the most vulnerable among us. We have abruptly recognized what is really important. Where previously we could not visualize what serious, pinpointed action to avoid catastrophe looks like, we now are clear on how efficiently we can respond to a crisis. We are coming together; caring for each other. This is the unexpected opportunity that COVID-19 has provided.
We have been shaken back to reality in many ways. It’s not the stock market, or the wealthy one per cent who keep our society functioning: it’s everyday people. Frontline health care workers. Farmers. Store clerks. Janitors and cleaners. PSWs. Truckers. Factory workers. Teachers and support staff. Moms and dads. We are quickly recognizing their importance, which often goes unrecognized and underappreciated. Our community is pulling together to ensure each of us is safe, healthy and supported. Everyone is doing what they can; big or small. This is where humanity shines.
The earth is getting a welcome reprieve from pollutants due to a massive reduction in travel and industrial production worldwide. In China, which produces 30% of the world’s emissions, GHGs are down by 25%. In Italy, Spain and even Toronto, they’re down 50%. Pictures flood the internet of wildlife reclaiming public spaces, demonstrating how resilient nature is. However, without a shift in how we think and do things, it will be short-lived.
On Earth Day, April 22nd, my friend Laurel Hood and I will launch the 52 Weeks of Climate Action Challenge. You’ll get a weekly tip on how to implement simple changes to help you live more sustainably. We’ll also post a weekly blog with background and specific details on how to tackle each challenge. Visit our website for more information, or to join: www.52weeksofclimateaction.com. Blog posts can also be found here, on the Simcoe-Grey Green website.
Like any good mother, Nature has given us a time-out to sit on the step, and think about what we’ve done. And I hope we take it. We have the opportunity now, as billions of dollars in emergency funding are released, to consider where we want to invest, and what is in our best interests going forward. What could we shift? What could we leave behind? Instead of following rote patterns of behaviour which no longer serve us, maybe we could use this slowing down as a way to transform things for the better. That starts with us: telling government what we want, and taking this gift of time to connect with each other, connect with the earth, and make new choices with a new clarity of perspective. Nature is doing a reset. We should follow her lead.
Sherri Jackson is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the Candidate of Record for Simcoe-Grey. and communications coordinator for our EDA. She is editor for the Collingwood Climate Action Team’s newsletter. Laurel Hood is our researcher. She is a retired teacher, Volunteer Coordinator for the EDA, climate activist and transportation lead for CCAT. Join the challenge at http://bit.ly/52WeeksofClimateAction.