Precious Commodities

This is not the post that I imagined that I would be writing.  I thought I would be writing about running, racing and all things fitness but, here I am, feeling compelled to write about COVID-19.

In my eyes, COVID-19 was inevitable.  In 1798, Thomas Malthus published his theory of population growth, which outlines the dangers of excessive growth and its impact on our planet.  Malthus argued that as our population grows exponentially and our resources increase arithmetically, we can outgrow our resources, specifically the food supply. Positive checks like disease and natural disasters and negative checks such as war reduce numbers and bring the population back to a sustainable level; The Black Plague (14th century) and Thailand Tsunami (2004) are natural checks which led to dramatic numbers in the world population.

Thanks to modern medicine, diseases like Polio and Smallpox have been eliminated, people recover from illnesses and, as such, our population grows older and, consequently, the numbers increase.  Since 1920, it has grown from 1.6 billion to 7.8 billion.  You can see the spike in the last century in this graph.

During the same time period, there has also been a dramatic change in technology.  Food, clothing and other goods are produced with the help of machines so we have more of everything. Transportation, now fuelled by oil and gas, is faster so we can ship products more easily and we can travel to distant places.  We have become a consumer society that focuses on wants rather than needs and give into the demands that come with it: long work days, time away from family, always rushing to get things done.

COVID-19 is giving us a chance to slow down.  When the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus Disease pandemic, countries reacted to protect our health.  In Canada, schools are closed, thousands have been told to work from home until further notice, businesses have shut their doors or reduced their hours, borders are closed to non-residents and social distancing is expected.  In my eyes, it is only a matter of time before we follow Italy’s example and move towards a full quarantine.   And while this has had a dramatic effect on the stock market and our economy, it had to happen.

It had to happen – not just to protect us from this deadly virus, but to look after our planet.  Production everywhere has slowed down.  People are not jumping in their cars to go to work, run errands or take their kids to activities.  There is less manufacturing.  Air travel is coming to a stop.  All of this means that there are fewer carbon emissions being released and it is giving our planet a chance to rejuvenate.  The oceans, the plants, the animals: they need the world to shut down for a while.

And so do we.  COVID-19 is giving us a chance to unwind too.  With so many closures, there is no need to rush off anywhere.   People are staying put.  They are practising social distancing.   And those families under one roof get to spend time together – talking, playing games, doing projects or chores.  Me, I am getting a chance to read and write and work on what seems like a never-ending project at home, hopefully finishing it by the end of our social distancing period.

Let me be clear, though.  While I am looking for positives (because that is my personality), there is no silver lining in this situation.  Millions around the world are effected by COVID-19.  People have lost loved ones.  Our doctors and nurses are working around the clock to save lives; thousands of others like grocery store clerks and EMS workers come into contact with hundreds each day and risk their own health.  The stock market has plummeted and the economy is sinking with it.  The reality is none of us want to be in this situation.  But none of us want to come into contact with Coronavirus either.  Our health and our planet are our most precious commodities so we all need to do our part to keep us physically and environmentally safe and flatten the curve.  Whether we like it or not, we must accept and listen to our government’s decisions.  It’s the only choice to make.


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