As the number of new cases drops each day, the consensus is pretty much clear: New Zealand has done a pretty good job so far with this whole Covid-19 schtick. Our government acted fast, they asked us to change the way we live our lives in order to save as many lives as possible. And we did.
In the last month, kiwis have sacrificed everything they once knew, every plan they had, every routine they lived by - jobs, weddings, funerals, overseas trips, gym memberships, sports games, festivals, shopping, going out for dinner, book clubs, date nights, having fish and chips on a Friday night - you name it, we had to let it all go.
We stayed home, we saved lives.
It’s been tough. Some of those sacrifices have hurt more than others. Some people have suffered tremendously. Some people’s livelihoods have been completely turned upside down. Some of us (the lucky ones) really miss fish and chips.
But I think it is heartening to see that we are capable of completely changing the way we live in order to survive. Because this isn’t the last crisis we’ll face. There’s one on the horizon that’s much bigger, one where many more lives will be at risk and there will be much more lifestyle change required.
The climate crisis is looming. Obviously, climate change poses extreme risks. Risks to our health, our homes, our wildlife, our environment, our life expectancy and quite literally, the survival of our species. In a worst case scenario, many more lives will be lost to climate change than they have been to Coronavirus.
Over the last few years, as experts have warned us that something needs to change, I’ve become increasingly disheartened with the way a lot of people tend to respond to the impending climate crisis. It’s been treated as something hypothetical, something that you can choose to believe in or choose to believe is a hoax. It’s been treated as something far off in the distance, something that we don’t have to worry about, because it “won’t happen in our lifetime.” It’s been treated as something that it’s okay to ignore.
It’s seen as a nuisance really, this pestering for us to live our lives differently in order to mitigate the consequences of climate change. People don’t want to eat less meat, they don’t want to have to think about how much waste they produce, they don’t want to give up their fast fashion shopping habits, their international travel, their single-use lifestyle. People love their lives, why would they want to change?
Obviously governments, industries and corporations are the biggest culprits here, and they’ve never wanted to change. For years, they’ve made decisions in the face of climate concerns that benefited profit margins while putting our future at risk. They like making money more than anything else, why would they want to change?
For years, I’ve felt like nothing was going to change - not at an individual or systemic level. I felt like we had been set on a path that was irreversible, unchangeable. I felt like human beings weren’t capable of changing the way they live their lives, even if lives were at risk.
I think differently now.
Our response to coronavirus - the willingness of our government, our businesses and our people to put regular life on hold in order to save lives, has made me honestly quite optimistic about our planet’s future. It’s shown me that the world is capable of change in the face of a crisis.
Every empty road, every grounded plane and every cancelled event has given me a little bit more hope.
No path is irreversible or unchangeable. We can change, individually and as a society. And we can save lives.Support Villainesse