Will COVID-19 Give Way to Better Human Habits?

Our Earth consumption habits are affected by pandemics.

When millions die, it is difficult, if not impossible, to “look on the bright side.” But giant impacts leave impressions upon people that do change human habits. The question is, will our pollution and habitat destruction habits improve, or get worse?

Although all events have outcomes which become tragedy for some, those same events also drive advantages, even for some victims. Most often, dramatic life events do not result in a zero-sum game.

Life on Earth is a balancing act between all species. Right now, the dominant species is facing some hard lessons.

During the Black Death, waves of sweeping death in Europe led to a disintegration of peasant serfdom, a spark for the renaissance, the slow collapse of absolute monarchy, a return to more equality for women (as they became vital workers). It also led to evolved immune response that survivors passed down to the present, as well as more understanding about medical treatments and anatomy. Even the widespread use of the printing press became possible given the tremendous quantity of inherited cotton rag.

Pollyanna positives in a pandemic?

The cleaner air, waterways, and streets we are keeping emptier these days have been put forward as proof we don’t have to pollute. It’s a beautiful thought, offering fresh air and hope.

Car deaths and direct pollution death is down, worldwide.

If we can learn, as some experts are saying, we can craft a better life on a living planet. Among such optimists are Bill Gates, who notes the common ground of science, where medical experts, scientists, engineers, and innovators all stand upon.

Environmentalists like David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, and Jane Goodall, among many others, are urging people to delight in the efforts and understanding of collaboration.

But, as usual, they are not the only people with opinions.

Debby Downers

Meanwhile, New York City is just beginning to come close to the 240 metric tons of waste generated in Wuhan, China, before they turned their ‘flattened’ curve and buried it all. To do so required one enormous central waste treatment lot, and 46 mobile ones.

On our side of the world, subsidized industry is calling for more plastic, not less, citing that the emergency demands it. Even though things like plastic bags retain virus droplets longer than a canvas bag, for example, plastic manufacturers will push for unprecedented use in medical utility.

People are too disoriented at present to know how to keep sterile and non-polluting at the same time. This is will only come with innovation.

Even bail-outs are being called for consumptive industries who want to ignore EPA regulations — at least for now. Yet, now is never the time to regress back to bad habits.

These are not easy challenges. The amount of waste we are generating from millions of gowns, masks, packaging and more is staggering.

Now it’s up to you

Each human being has an impact. Most are doing their part to avoid crowds, and to mitigate the spread of infection. Most are not hoarding, much less consuming, only plastic bottled beverages, or single use disposables.

But we are still making more trash than we need to do. As we eat more delivery, we generate much more garbage waste. As we order other supplies online, too, there’s the added carbon cost for all that global delivery.

Each person is more aware of both costs and benefits of staying in place and connecting to family, or to missing out of big social games and festivals. Stay empowered, as it helps an overall attitude of resilience.

Food is fundamental

The world, is undergoing one major change that sheds light on the cause of our biggest problem: We’ve been doing food destructively.

Our eating habits, our addiction to convenience, has a very high price. We can lower that price by insisting on better choices. Mass meat consumption is destructive and ignoble for human beings when they do it on a large, shamefully hidden, scale. When they do it more out in the open, such as in a wet food market, there may be more transparency, but no saving grace. As we say sell exotic animals wildlife delicacies such as bat, pangolin, and palm civet, we risk more epidemics, and more instability.

We simply need to look at food as nutrient and nurturing of the soul. If food doesn’t fill this vital need, we can’t rise above our own destruction.

Food, and our we think of food, is fundamental to whether we cultivate the values we need to defend our species, the biodiversity that sustains us, and our great spiritual need to be cooperative, supportive, innovative and compassionate with people and planet.

This post was previously published on Greener Together and is republished here with permission from the author.

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