Tuesday July 05, 2022

Going viral

May 02, 2020

Does anyone else feel like we have slipped into a parallel universe? While life goes on here in my little home and my wife and I feel well enough, outside the world is melting down. I keep trying to make some sense of the Covid-19 virus, what it means for our present and our future. I am not sure there is much sense to be made of it. But I will try.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that we – the human race – had this coming. We have pushed Earth’s natural systems to the brink. Every day, we have become more numerous and more demanding. This planet is a finite world with limited resources. Yet we treat the Earth as if there is no end to what we can take. As a result, before our very eyes, extinction of species is exploding, the oceans acidifying, the climate in chaos, deforestation accelerating, pollution flooding our water and air, wildlife habitat being shredded. Glaciers are vanishing. Mountains falling apart. Seas are rising. Yet we go on demanding, using, consuming more, as if it would never end.

Is it really a surprise that human systems are also in a tailspin? I reckon we just hit the wall.

Whether or not the Covid-19 virus is the Earth reacting to the human plague, there is no doubt we cannot continue as we have. Something had to give. World leaders refuse to take concrete, meaningful steps to stem our over-consumptive ways. As individuals, we take a few steps – recycle, compost, use less packaging, drive a hybrid car – but these are window dressing when we keep having lots of children, taking long international flights, driving hundreds of miles per week, buying whatever knick knack currently attracts our attention. We have been in serious denial.

Picture the mega party at the end of time. We have been living it.

So along comes a tiny organism that is not really even alive, and brings almost everything to a screeching halt.

According to the Washington Post, the Covid 19 virus is “ little more than a packet of genetic material surrounded by a spiky protein shell one-thousandth the width of an eyelash, and it leads such a zombielike existence that it’s barely considered a living organism. But as soon as it gets into a human airway, the virus hijacks our cells to create millions more versions of itself.”

Pretty ironic eh? Our doomsday scenarios often involve nuclear war, zombie humans, space alien invasion, asteroid impact, supervolcanic eruption, solar flares and the like. Stuff we can see and maybe find a way to divert or defeat or avoid. Now along comes this invisible, unpredictable, indiscriminate killer. And in weeks, it brings the whole world to a near standstill. It is truly bizarre.

Coronavirus is nothing we can reason with nor argue with. It has no malice toward us, no evil intent. Which makes it that much harder to understand. You look out at the world, there is no zombie horde approaching. No missiles streaking down. No giant volcanic cloud, no F5 tornado (well, there might be, but not everywhere). Just a world gone quiet, with deserted streets and shops. Instead of being soothing, the quiet is ominous.

Excerpted from: 'Going viral'.