Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Covid or Climate: Can't it be both?

In a local school board meeting from last June, in which they discussed their plan to remove HEPAs in rooms that had mechanical ventilation added (as if it's and either/or option), they first discussed how far they've overshot their energy budget. There were clear implications that Covid mitigations had forced this increased cost. 

Taking the price tags off for a moment, if we're faced with reducing CO2 emissions by reducing energy usage, OR reducing CO2 in the air by adding HEPA filters, which do we choose??

It can be both! 

But we can't do it within a neolibertarian capitalist framework. I always include that 'neoliberal' part because this current version of capitalism is very different from what Adam Smith and John Locke proposed! We're essentially back to a feudal system with CEOs our new Kings and Queens and workers given scraps like peasants. 

One of the things that can help is WORKING FROM HOME! Lots of people want to do it, and some companies are responding with rules forcing them into the office, which is all part and parcel of justifying keeping the office space to prevent the huge commercial real estate market from collapsing. 

A Washington Post article from yesterday did a cost/benefits analysis:

"Fully remote workers could produce less than half the climate-warming emissions of people who spend their days in offices. . . . This study really emphasizes the importance of lifestyle and the choices that we make when we're working remotely as being really key to realizing the kinds of potential benefits that can be unlocked."

We definitely need a political shift to reduce emissions, but we also definitely require a change in our own behaviours - particularly those of us with the luxury of reading a random blog online. We can't reduce emissions without changing our behaviours or being personally affected by new climate policies. Business as usual will end by choice or necessity. Many of the behaviours called for--reducing or eliminating flying, driving, and eating meat--are things people don't want to do. But if there are people who want to work from home, and there are, then allowing that option is one tiny step towards reducing emissions. 

Working from home can add hours to the day of people who formerly commuted, creating a much saner lifestyle for them. But it comes at a cost to the real estate market if a tipping point of workers stop coming in. We have to decide if we're going to support people or profits.

If we all take care of the market instead of the people, then we can expect GHGs to increase -- and Covid too, along with other pathogens coming our way like the deadly Nipah affecting southern India right now, which can incubate in a host for up to two months, increasing the likelihood that it's unwittingly travelled outside the region because god forbid we shut down international flights!

Scientists are calling for action to stop extinction of so many species of plants and animals: 

"If we do not act to the extent necessary, there will be a civilizational collapse. . . . The authors call for unprecedented investment that pays special attention to conserving tropical forests, where the greatest biodiversity is found. . . . The universe's only known intelligent species is getting increasingly close to being smothered by its own efficiency to survive and reproduce."

I question the intelligence of our species right about now.  

We have solutions to all these problems, but they're just not an option within our current system. It's so hard to watch them ignored because a very small group of people stand to lose a huge amount of money.  

For a while everything happening, "acceptable losses" of the elderly and disabled and the flippin' Nazi flags, was reminding me of the early stages of the holocaust. Now it's the fall of Rome. 

Prepare for the dark ages redux. 

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