FROM 2020 until early 2022, scientists, health experts and government officials were all talking about the “new normal,” and why there’ll be no going back to our old ways (i.e., “normal”) post COVID.
The thought of social distancing, mask-wearing and limited mobility becoming the norm saddened and frustrated most of us. We viewed the future after COVID with glumness. The future seemed gloomy and it seemed that the shadow of the pandemic would haunt us forever.
Now, we know the so-called new normal barely exists, and it seems that most people have forgotten about the lessons we’re supposed to have learned from our pandemic experience.
And although my purpose here is not to be a wet blanket (especially since Christmas is just around the corner), I will most certainly seem like one.
People are having fun, and why shouldn’t they? Haven’t they experienced enough mental distress and isolation during the height of the pandemic? Don’t we all deserve to go out and enjoy life?
A catastrophe in the making
The normal we all longed for and remembered with nostalgia during community lockdowns – was it that great, though?
If we assess the path we were on prior to the pandemic, we were experiencing ecological crisis after crisis, building up toward a major environmental catastrophe.
By continuing on that “normal” route, in about a decade or less, important resources like coral reefs will be gone. A few more decades into the future, our ecosystems would have substantially deteriorated.
Remember, the acidification of the ocean continues (and lakes are acidifying, too) and we’re losing more natural resources, including food and potable water. More species are becoming extinct, and not a lot of people are aware or care.
The dangers of going back to normal
Returning to normal may feel good (and perhaps you’re having fun right now); however, that (or this) normal is actually the road to a complete breakdown.
Instead of living up to the previous normal, perhaps we should reassess our behavior and use the new knowledge gleaned during the pandemic (especially the environmental gains during the height of COVID-19) to establish new norms.
Based on our pandemic experience, what can we do now to curb greenhouse gas emissions drastically?
We should ask ourselves: Is what we can tolerate more important than what’s necessary? Is our convenience and personal happiness more important than the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants?
After all, when we experience environmental collapse, civilization crumbles.
Whoever will live through the next few decades is likely to suffer and die horribly. By then, a lot of us will be gone; but those people – those who will live to see the planet die – will be our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Do you see, now, how useless your wealth, accomplishments, possessions and social advantages are? These things will be worthless when there’s no food to eat, water to drink and clean air to breathe.
If we continue to live as we do, those post-apocalyptic nightmares brought to life onscreen may just become a reality. Perhaps those things won’t happen during our lifetime. But are you willing to gamble your children’s and their children’s future?
So, if there are ways we can find that may make us suffer slightly or feel inconvenienced for a greater purpose, shouldn’t we be doing them?
Now’s the time
Some companies that were forced to let their employees work from home are now slowly going back to the old ways even when they thrived with remote work. Why?
Because capitalism favors using the various infrastructure already built to feed it: the commercial buildings (that generate rent), automobiles (that require fossil fuels or energy that’s paid for; they also pollute the air), utilities (electricity, water) and so on.
Fortunately, some companies have also adopted remote work as a permanent option. But that small change is just a drop in an ocean of ecological problems.
So, again, we must live with traffic.
The city is polluted. We are stressed.
Is going back to normal that great?