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Reflections on COVID-19

Latest from the Blog: Covid-19 – The Earth’s Best Friend?

One, somewhat cynical way, of looking at the current world-wide health crisis is this: it’s nothing more or less than the Earth’s immune system activating in an attempt to rid itself of this most dangerous viral threat to its continuing existence, and that threat is modern human civilization.

Let me explain. What is the typical consumption of natural resources during an average person’s lifetime? Keeping in mind, of course, that the North American and European figures would be exponentially greater than those of third world countries. Just try to imagine the vast amounts of air, water, wood, food, oil products, metal, plastics and technology devices that the average person consumes today. Now there’s an interesting term, if there ever was one. It seems that the ultimate goal of every good member of society is to “consume” as much material as possible, and then to throw as much as possible into the dump, so we can start the cycle over again.

So now we come to the heart of the problem of the degradation of the world’s environment, and also the obvious solution. Factories, mines, ships, planes, automobiles, and cities don’t cause pollution. No, they are simply the result of too many people on the planet today, and the few wealthy ones having way too high material expectations. So you really can’t blame the Earth for trying to get rid of some of these pesky two-legged bacteria in a last-ditch effort to try and save herself.

Through all of this we need to keep in mind the simple fact that the Earth does not have a fundamental need for humankind to be scurrying around her surface getting into all kinds of mischief. In fact, without exception, human activity is always a negative development from the Earth’s point of view. Something like ticks on a dog’s back. The question is not if they will cause harm, but rather when and to what extent.

Let’s think for a moment of some current organized human activities: clear-cut logging, industrial farming and fishing, open-pit mining, polluted air and freshwater lakes and river, and the plasticization of our seas. Not much good news here from Mother Earth’s perspective. In fact, if the human race was to suddenly and completely to disappear, I don’t believe the Earth would shed a single tear of regret.

Also, in the future, we might develop a different perspective about how we judge the past. That is, we could start to reconsider how important really are monuments, grand buildings, and even art and culture. One way of viewing all of these achievements would be to view them as nothing more than out-of-control manifestations of human ego. What if we eventually came to this conclusion: that the most admirable and ethical civilizations are those which, after they are gone, have left behind the least amount of evidence that they ever existed? We enthusiastically embrace the concept of “no trace” camping: how about the idea of “no trace” civilizations? By this standard, all modern societies are dismal failures.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not excluding myself from the possibility of such a beneficial cleansing. On the North American scale I may have been at the low end of the consumption cycle, but if you factor in the larger worldwide view, I have been a real glutton. And, as I am currently easing into the elderly category, my days of any meaningful contribution to society are pretty much over. In fact, instead of contributing further, I will soon be consuming (there it is again) large amounts of goods and services. To the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars: expensive joint replacement surgeries, pacemakers, personal support workers, and long-term care institutions. The list goes on and on. And what do I have to look forward to? Loneliness and ever-decreasing physical and mental abilities. So looking at things objectively, I can only conclude that the Earth would be a much better place now without me in it. Following this line of reasoning leads to an interesting general question. If a person is seriously concerned about the environment and pollution, keeping in mind the issues raised above, should they be willing to voluntarily take off some of this pressure by ending their own life? Somewhat of a dilemma, don’t you think?

As far as isolation is concerned as a realistic and effective tool to fight this virus, it’s nothing more than large-scale political self-delusion. When millions of people have decided, rather unwisely it seems, to live packed together in a few square miles of real estate, isolation is a contradiction in terms. What about those takeout food servers who come in contact with hundreds of people a day? What about those grocery store, convenience store, and gas pump clerks? And are truck drivers somehow immune from everything going on? No, I think it would probably have been better to let this virus run its course unimpeded, get it over with, and then get on with it.

But let’s not despair, let’s not give up hope. There are already some really good changes happening. People are starting to think about travelling less, spending less, creating less garbage, working less, and possibly reducing their unnaturally high and
out-of-control standard of living. People might decide that living in a big city is not a healthy environment for any number of reasons. People might start staying home more with their families. And on a personal note, I am thanking God that, for a time at least, I am spared the constant torture of listening to sports reporting. And that includes the cancelled Olympics.

There could also be some good changes economically. These long overdue adjustments will include, hopefully, the collapse of those two artificial, non-sustainable markets based on out-of-control greed: the housing market and the stock market. And best of all, the Earth will be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief at the dramatic decrease in demand on her limited natural resources. At least for awhile.

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