As winter and the covid-19 pandemic wear on, and wear us down, I’d like to shift the focus to something perhaps more positive. Although access to the vaccine is still very limited in Canada (as I’m writing this, only about 2.5% of the population has received the vaccine and questions remain about some vaccines’ efficacy in light of new variants, let’s remember that we were able to develop vaccines in less than a year after identifying and isolating this new virus.
How were we able to respond so rapidly? First, various researchers were already investigating coronaviruses, so a solid foundation had already been laid to advance vaccine development. Second, because covid-19 impacted every nation and economy, strong political will and ample financing was immediately available to propel vaccine development in numerous labs.
Having made these observations, my thoughts turn to another global issue that’s been brewing for decades: climate change. The concept of global warming became common knowledge in the early 1990s, but I was introduced to the concept of alternative energy sources when I was still in high school, considerably before any discussion of this warming trend. Even in high school, adopting carbon-neutral alternatives seemed like a no-brainer considering the negative impacts on health of increasing air pollution from carbon emissions.
Between then and now, technologies that support our efforts to tap into cleaner renewable energy have continued to develop and have become less expensive to produce. A solid foundation has already been laid to support adoption of numerous carbon-neutral energy sources to serve the needs of our rapidly growing human population. So why aren’t we there yet? The strong political will and ample financing that were fundamental in delivering the covid-19 vaccine in record time are still missing from efforts to deliver carbon-neutral energy solutions.
When President Joe Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline project within hours of taking office, some Canadians were outraged; I was not one of them. I was relieved. Plans to invest in outdated energy technology with clear negative environmental impacts make no sense to me. We know better.
I’m relieved to see world leaders slowly turning away from oil and gas for the sake of our shared environment. I’m also relieved to see some major investors finally comprehending that they can make ample money investing in cleaner renewable energy sources instead of oil and gas.
Given the rapidity with which humanity has managed to poison our planet and set in motion the volatile climate changes we’re increasingly seeing, it’s unclear how long recovery will take or if it’s even possible. But I am hopeful that, like the covid-19 vaccine, if we continue to develop the technologies we’ve already invented, and invest adequate political will and financing, maybe we’ll be okay. Fingers crossed. As stewards of the Earth, we’ve been doing a pretty piss-poor job. Mama Gaia deserves some TLC. Let’s give it to her and maybe she’ll let us stay.
© Catherine Jenkins 2021 all rights reserved