The Coronavirus pandemic has shown that we must stop exploiting the natural world for our personal gain

“The environmental crisis is an outward manifestation of a crisis of mind and spirit. There could be no greater misconception of its meaning than to believe it to be concerned only with endangered wildlife, man-made ugliness and pollution. These are part of it, but more importantly, the crisis is concerned with the kind of creature that man is and that we must become in order to survive.”

Lynton K Caldwell (1970)

We humans want to feel that we are progressing, that our lives are improving from the benefits of technological advancement. In the past, this desire hasn’t been without fallout, polluting our water, soil and atmosphere. This is all going to change.

With this new realisation that we are destroying the planet’s natural ability to resist pandemics, we will establish a way of interacting with nature to create a world where people can live out their lives, pursue their dreams and share in the prosperity built on the foundations of our ancestors.

Coronavirus Blog - overconsumption pollution waste - antoine GIRET - UnSplash
Global levels of consumption and waste have reached unsustainable levels. When rebuilding our socieites after the Coronavirus pandemic, we must insist that manufacturers are responsible for recycling their products and abolish such industry practices as planned obsolescence. Photo: Antoine Giret - UnSplash

We will recognise that it is not our God given right to exploit the planet for all the benefits to be derived for our personal pleasures. We will recognise the impact that our careless pursuit of personal enrichment has on others who share our right to the bountiful Commons that were provided to us by nature.

This will happen through the development of three pillar principles that will be adopted by all nations where governments support their people to realise a life in connection with our environment, not in the destruction of it.

The three pillars of post-Coronavirus recovery

First, we will create hydrogen infrastructure for powering lorries, buses and ships, the heavy diesel vehicles that currently are responsible for 20% of all of the pollution on Earth.

This transition will take place as soon as companies, like Hyundai, who are committed to the realisation of this future, and who are investing $6.3 billion into fuel cell technology, offer these transport vehicles, supported by governments who subsidise this transport infrastructure to make them economically viable. The Government funding will be supplied by trade duties.

Coronavirus Blog - Electric Vehicles - UnSplash - Andreass Dress
A significant uptake of electric vehicles is an essential pillar of the low-carbon economy that must be established when rebuliding societies after the Coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Andreass Dress - UnSplash

Second, cities, towns and villages will build electric charging infrastructure for the uptake of electric motor vehicles. Governments will subsidise the premium cost of these vehicles so that they are affordable to consumers. This subsidy will be financed by the companies that produce and sell these electric cars through their profits on sales.

Finally, our homes will be upgraded. Regardless of how old and delicate they are, they’ll be insulated to withstand the winter cold, so that they waste less heat, and the heating will come from electricity, which is the most efficient form of heat delivery, therefore not wasteful, like fossil fuels.

Many homes will produce and store their own electricity. Many communities will share their power resources with each other, in community owned structures where the benefit of free electricity from sunlight is shared by neighbours equally, regardless of who is able to house the systems on their rooftops.

How legislation can drive a circular economy and rebuild communities after COVID-19

Legislation will be passed requiring manufacturers to provide an end to end process. They will need to dispose of the products that they manufacture, removing the incentive to build in planned obsolescence in the design of their products. It is clear that we have reached peak consumption.

The ruthless, relentless greed that has driven corporations to pursue profit regardless of the cost to society is changing. This is evident in the recent pledge made by the Business Roundtable, 181 of the leaders of the largest corporations, in August of last year stating that corporations have a responsibility to the communities they serve.

The change is coming, it must come quickly. We must unify in our hope that we can mobilise quickly to enact solutions to save ourselves and other living beings on this planet.

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