The world has changed in unimaginable and unrecognisable ways since my last post two months ago. In that time, countless people have passed away, hundreds of millions are sheltering in place, and non-essential businesses have been ordered to close in much of the world. We also ran out of toilet paper…
These are unprecedented times for all, and everyone is trying to do their best to make it through to the other side. In the midst of that, today also marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day.
As this is all taking place I, like many parents of very young children, am now at home full-time with my partner and children, without any of the usual supports or opportunities to engage in personal pursuits. I’m grateful for their company, but adapting to spending so much time in one space comes with its own learning curve. With this in mind, and in honour of this meaningful day, I’m going to keep this check-in short, if I can manage it.
I want to start by saying that we are incredibly blessed that we and our relatives are healthy. We’re also fortunate that we are still employed, although trying to work with two toddlers at home remains a challenge I haven’t quite mastered yet.
I’m grateful for not having to worry about our immediate ability to pay bills or feed my family, or having worry about how to care for sick loved ones. I know that so many are not so fortunate.
My heart goes out to all of those who have lost loved ones, or those whose loved ones are ill or vulnerable.
I am eternally grateful to the front-line workers, the nurses, the doctors, the technicians, and everyone who is working to keep everything running. This crisis has taught me gratitude for all those things, systems, freedoms and people I have taken for granted in the past. It has crystallised the important things in life; namely family, health, community, and our connection to one another.
Given the challenges that our communities are facing, it feels a little discordant, then, to publish some of the earlier posts I had in mind. First because now, more than ever, time is a fleeting luxury — ask any parent of multiple toddlers — but also because I understand that environmentalism is not atop of most families’ priorities right this second. For the moment, we have more pressing crises to overcome.
Fortunately, we may have bought the planet some time. News reports from around the world are telling us that GHGs are falling significantly across the globe and expected to be down 6% for the year.
Incredibly, in one month, the pandemic has pushed decision-makers to do what everyone has been saying is impossible; wilfully and astoundingly shut down major economies for the common good, for our most vulnerable. We have seen a huge drop in the demand for gas and oil, reduced energy consumption, reduced economic activity and production. Despite the devastating loss of life and economic output, this global show of solidarity is an awe-inspiring thing. It has also made a bigger dent on GHGs and environmental degradation in this last month than we could have ever hoped through incremental and individual consumer changes.
That isn’t to say that the climate crisis is solved and that our work is done. On the contrary, now is the time to strike while the iron is hot. This is an opportunity for governments keen on someday re-opening our societies and economies to reinvest in a new economy to help pave the way for a greener, more sustainable tomorrow. That work is immensely critical. The world need a green recovery. We proved we could upend our day to day life and spend trillion of dollars to stop a pandemic. Let’s press on urgently to save billions more as we rethink our futures.
At the same time, there are systemic forces at play that are shaping the world and the climate in much more meaningful ways at this present time than anything any one individual family can achieve. Think tsunami like effects vs small drops in the bucket.
We must try to continue our conservation work while confined at home, of course. But as busy and overwhelmed parents, if there was ever a time to go easy on one’s self for not getting everything right it’s in these present weeks and months. Trying to do to much when some of us are already emotionally and mentally maxed out may come at a high personal cost. We must be kind to ourselves, and to one another. And if we can stay the course, all the more power to us. If not, don’t worry, we’ll get back on track with even more fervour. No pressure, no shame, no judgement; it’s all good. We’ll fight the good fight tomorrow.
And so turning back to this endeavour, I have to be honest with myself, and with you, by admitting that I just can’t blog with the energy and dedication I had once imagined, back when the world was different. Instead, I will focus on being well, on making sure my children feel safe and loved, and that they can benefit from my attention. I’ll teach them about garden worms and sprouting seedlings, and identifying the birds that come to out to feast at our bird feeder. I’ll help them write encouraging messages with chalk in the driveway, and to donate their unused (and sanitised) toys to children who may need some cheering up. When time permits, these are the types of posts I will focus on. These, and anything I can share that will help stretch that dollar or suggest ways to be of service to the community, even if we can’t be physically together.
In the meantime, please stay safe, healthy and compassionate. If you can afford to, please shop locally, and donate what you can to your local charitable organisations who are in desperate need right now. Offer to deliver food to a senior resident nearby, or to an essential worker you know. Caring for one another is the first step to caring for our planet. Together we can do this. Happy Earth Day.
I sincerely hope you and yours are doing well. As this is a check-in, how about you take a moment to tell me how you’re managing during this usual time. What are your days like? What do you look forward to on the day to day? What are you most proud of? Do you have anything planned for Earth Day? Let me know in the comments below.