By Sumera Naz
We, humans, wrapped nature with plastic and in return it's wrapping us with the same from toe to tomb. One may wonder why we are talking about climate during this pandemic. One is very specific and tied to a particular virus, while the other is a systemic threat. However, what ties them together is the fact that they are rooted in the same thing- our illusion of control over nature.
The way we think our lives are insulated is the same manner in which we think we can manage our way out of climate change, when in reality there is scientific information that tells us otherwise.
The second commonality is that both covid-19 and climate change affect the poor and vulnerable populations the most. One thing we have learned from this pandemic is that we are not a resilient society; we don't have systems in place to take care of the poorest when faced with something like this. And climate change is nothing but a series of shocks-be it heat waves, violent weather events, a decline in crop yields or disruptions to our water system. Here, the philanthropic community has an important role to play, because while we have been responding immediately, we need to also start looking at the impact on livelihoods. It's time now for civil society and philanthropy to move into mid-term strategy, and that is all about developing resilience.
The False Dichotomy between Economy and Environment: Both covid-19 and climate change are examples of a loss or disturbance of ecology balance. Both have public health consequences as well, with climate change that looks like pollution, chemical contamination, land degradation, etc. As a result, we need to start looking at climate change from a public health perspective. While we know that the economic damage as a result of covid. 19 has been horrendous, if we priorities the economy at the cost of environment, it ll push us towards a disaster. We are talking about relaxing labour laws, land laws and there are Proposals in front of the government to relax environmental laws as well.
There are several things that we can do that would be good from point of view of lifting the lockdown as well as from environmental view point. For example, the power sector has already seen a decline in demand, the plants are losing money, and generation companies are going bankrupt. As a result we have an opportunity to reimagine this sector. If we shut down the older and more polluting plants, it would create space for newer players using renewable energy to make a profit. This in turn, would be good for, the economy and job market as, well as for the environment. Now is the time for us to be creative in how we think about the intersections between the economy and the environment, because going back to a model that pits one against the other, is deeply problematic. And since, just like with
COVID-19, it is the poor that are often the greatest victims of pollution, if we were to focus on the economy and set aside the environment, we would be jumpstarting the economy at the cost of India’s most vulnerable.
We can’t pollute our way to prosperity. We need to be talking about green jobs, and looking not just at financial stability but also ecological stability. With this in mind, I want to highlight that we have an opportunity for a Green New Deal. Why shouldn’t we be looking at a green revival? Why don’t we talk about a green stimulus? These are opportunities for revisiting some of the issues that have bedeviled us. Every crisis creates an opportunity. In 1991, there was a crisis, and that was an opportunity for economic reform. In 2020, we have another economic crisis as well as a social crisis, and it has given us an opportunity for ecological reform and for bringing ecology into the mainstream of governance.
Virus has got people talking about things that were unimaginable, talking about ways in which they are changing their personal behaviours, reflecting on living in the moment, and thinking about how to shift things that we previously thought were really hard to shift. We must use this moment to re-imagine. To try to think about what a more progressive life looks like, and what we can do to build towards it.
Note: The article has been written by Sumera Naz (PhD scholar) and The Northern Herald will not take responsibility of content.
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