Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Beccy Mccray was 80% self sufficient for vegetables last year because of her allotment and this year is generously offering seeds to people.

Coronavirus, the climate crisis and the need to stay connected

Artist and climate change campaigner Beccy McCray shares her thoughts about the current global pandemic and climate change.

Beccy McCray at launch of community artwork ‘When the Oak Spoke’.

I’ve been thinking so much about coronavirus and the climate crisis lately; there are many similarities in both cases, the scientific community is offering clear warnings about what to do. Both involve public health. Climate change is already killing people in extreme heat waves and other disasters; it’s also worsening food and water shortages and it will displace hundreds of millions of people. The same pollutants that contribute heavily to climate change also cause air pollution that kills millions of people each year. Diseases like malaria and dengue fever are likely to spread as mosquitoes move into new regions. And as with coronavirus, people living in areas with the fewest resources are being impacted most by climate change. Climate change also affects the most vulnerable first and worst.

In light of the pandemic, what was unimaginable yesterday is already the new norm. Because of this, dolphins are now returning to our coastlines, canals filling with fish, and air pollution is dropping dramatically. The reduction in ground-based concentrations of PM2.5 in China has likely saved the lives of 1,400 children under the age of 5 and 50,000 adults over the age of 70. That’s roughly 20 times the number of lives that have been directly lost to the virus in China. COVID-19 is clearly not a good thing though. Instead, it’s acting as a mirror, forcing us to carefully examine our way of life. Earthquakes destroy much, but they also reveal valuable information about the deepest layers of the earth. Similarly, pandemics cause immense pain and suffering but teach us a great deal. They show us that the industrial economy we’ve always taken for granted is killing us. They force us to sit up and acknowledge that we’re sharing a planet with other species and they tell who the real key workers are.

If the world was responding to climate change like it’s responding to the coronavirus—the level of urgency that the science says is necessary—things would look dramatically different; after wildfires and extreme floods, relief packages would acknowledge the role of climate. In cities, development rules would change to require low-carbon construction. Farms would shift to regenerative agriculture. Just as the airline industry is struggling because of the coronavirus, some industries would see real impacts. We probably wouldn’t still have a thriving oil, coal and gas industry.

Despite the growing number of climate-related disasters that happen every year, the overall mobilisation looks nothing like the response to the coronavirus. In part, that’s because climate change still seems like a somewhat distant problem, and the worst effects are happening in the global South (i.e. not rich, white people). Another obvious challenge with the climate crisis is that certain, very powerful companies (who have a stranglehold over governments) have a lot to lose if the world acts decisively.

Let’s not go back to “normal”. “Normal” was inequity, oppression, and climate breakdown. “Normal” was fossil fuel companies digging, drilling and polluting, and getting rich, while workers, public services, and our democracies suffered. “Normal” was a manipulated economy where veg flow thousands of miles costs less than than fresh produce grown by local farmers. We have the opportunity to forge a new, fairer, more compassionate normal.

We need to mobilise this going forwards; let’s keep working from home, cycling, walking, re-wilding, growing stuff, baking, talking to our neighbours, caring about our community and the vulnerable.

Let’s stay connected not fragmented.

Beccy McCray

Beccy is a founder member of Wood People Connective
which celebrates the value of trees, wood and woodlands.
You can find out more about Beccy on her website

Posted 16:15 Thursday, Apr 23, 2020 In: Covid-19

Also in: Covid-19

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