As 2020 came to an inexorable end, the world watched as the global COVID-19 pandemic affected every aspect of our lives and livelihoods. Personally, my mindset moved between fatalism and cabin fever because I feared that this virus would rule our lives for a much longer period of time than could be satisfied by short-term adjustments.
Indian mythology speaks of cycles of destruction and renewal of the universe; A cycle of creation is just the blink of an eye from a creator. Indian philosophy also speaks of negating the concept of time – it’s just a mental construct. So it might be wise to put all these thoughts aside and just live in the present, after all, the current situation just brings home the point we just have to play with.
A new administration took over in the U.S. in January 2021, and the events surrounding those highly competitive, contentious elections at times darkened concerns about a global crisis. For some of us, it is definitely a source of comfort that this government is not being run by an “outsider” but by a die-hard politician whose actions will hopefully be geared towards what we normally consider good governance. This brings hope as we can now focus on the forward momentum to solve national problems and possibly even contribute to global solutions.
We can look forward to creatively changed lives if we prioritize intelligent survival. If the story is a strict teacher, we learned that it took about 2 years 1918 flu pandemic calm down, so if you need a projection this is as good as any other.
Namaste as a greeting instead of handshakes and hugs, limiting major social interactions – including physical gatherings in the workplace – and curbing unnecessary shopping should be easy for those familiar with the Indian ethos. A successful vaccine will definitely add to our arsenal, but it will only work together with a compliant world population.
A change in lifestyle and work mandates will inevitably lead to the demise of some industries. The immediate rainfall is in our neighborhood restaurants and shops, but the sharp downturn in local and global travel over the past 9 months has already benefited our 21st century Surroundings. An upswing in the research and development of clean energy Sources as an alternative to fossil fuels are well underway, and while each source has its own specific benefits and challenges, it could prove to be a strong global competitor if properly prioritized and funded. This positive lifestyle change could prove to be the proverbial silver lining of what is otherwise experienced as a global life threatening event, and we could transform the inevitable destruction of aspects of life as we know them into the creation of a potentially better environment for the whole Life.
As species change their ecology and relate more to a lifestyle unencumbered by human occupation and pollution, one positive outcome appears to be an emerging cleaner environmental slate. While wind and solar power appear to be the most advanced alternative energy options right now, exploring other sources, including geothermal and hydrokinetics, to harness the energy from the earth and oceans would expand the renewable energy options.
Resources must be constantly allocated to make these initiatives a success. When I was working in a Tier 1 city in India in 2014, I bought a car that ran on CNG (compressed natural gas) as an option for cleaner fuel. My good intentions were limited by the availability of fuel. I learned that standing in line at select gas stations at 6:30 a.m. could result in a full CNG tank in my car. However, too many failed attempts after seemingly endless waits resulted in an increasing need to choose a car that ran on gasoline. My upfront investment in paying a premium for a CNG car was kind of burned at the gas station.
The development of renewable fuel technologies has made steady progress over the past two decades, and current estimates for renewable electricity generation technologies vary between 10% and 20%. The unexpected boost to a better environment from COVID-19 could be a blessing, but other studies suggest it are bound carbon emissions could easily be conceivable if the pandemic is controlled. Lasting change in preventing rising global temperatures and sustained positive environmental change after the pandemic will continue to require efforts from us on an individual and global level.
It’s gratifying to be woken up by the screeching of the ducks on the Schuylkill River – where parent birds breed, babies grow up, and fly away to begin a new life cycle. The hope is that this will continue to be the case in the years to come.
L. Iyengar has lived and worked in India and the USA. As a trained scientist, she enjoys experiencing different cultures and ideas. She is the author of White Blackmail, a fiction, and can be found on Twitter at @l_iyengar.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions contained in the article do not reflect the views of India Currents and India Currents assumes no responsibility or liability for them.
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