18 February 2021


I keep trying to remember that all pandemics are finite. I wonder whether that's a consolation. So history shows that each pandemic ends one way or another. The Spanish flu ended in 1918, as WW I ended, because it was the war that got it going in the first place.

But it's a bit different with the covid. I read and try to understand and what I can figure out is that, yes, we need the vaccines, all of them, but we shouldn't put our hopes on that with a vaccine all will be well.

It doesn't help anyone in the wealthy North/West if we are all vaccinated and the mutations then come to us from Africa because there is a lack of vaccines there.

Most new infectious diseases are transmitted from animals to humans. In recent years alone: Ebola, Sars, Mers,  Zika. You don't need to be an expert to see how this is due to the ongoing destruction of nature, climate change, extinction of species, factory farming. 

We humans penetrate ever deeper into the natural habitat of wild animal populations. This increases the likelihood that new viral diseases will pass from animals to humans. Even if the fight against this pandemic is currently overshadowing everything, we have to face the larger ecological crisis behind it at the same time.

This is a long-term epidemic, after 12 months, obviously so and it has and will continue to change society and daily life. That's a good thing. I read that the bubonic plague which killed at least a third of the population of Europe in the 14th century (??) is responsible for our concept of public health. Pandemic as formative event, so to speak.

People ask me what I miss most and I am at a loss. Travel, eating out, going to a bookshop, a museum, it all sounds so trivial and vain when I hear of terrible cases of long covid, of family members dying within hours of each other. Of course, I want to visit my daughter, my grandchild. But for much longer than this pandemic, we have been talking about how things were spiralling out of control, have been plotting ways and campaigns and actions to enable our children's and grandchildren's future on a livable planet away from the old destructive normal. 

Because the old normal has put us here, I want to shout. Our silly arrogance, our superiority complex. Let's be a tad more humble here and take our place, our teeny tiny place on the planet with care and responsibility.



  1. May enough of us grow to be responsible human beings to keep the delicate balance in nature. As I read the reflections of Barry Lopez in Horizon, this is in my mind and heart.

    Reading what you wrote about the pandemic, I suddenly remembered the illness that had become a fixture in the world of the future that Ursula K. Le Guin wrote about in her prescient book from the 1990s, Always Coming Home.

    I couldn't find any reference to that illness on Google but found this article:


    "Le Guin has attempted to create a culture where the people have discovered the correct balance between nature and technology. People live in small communities, and are farmers, herders, weavers, potters. Most of this work is done by hand and on the surface it would appear that they are primitive. However we soon learn that they are familiar with electricity, computers, trains, and so on. They are literate and educated. They just don’t use these tools very often. It seems to me that she is trying to show that it is possible to find this balance. Many people refute arguments to preserve the environment by saying those who champion this cause want everyone to live in the stone age. Le Guin is indicating here her belief that a balance can be maintained."

    After I read Horizon, I'll be reading a book written by John Lewis -- Walking With The Wind and a biography of Octavia Butler -- https://www.angelcitypress.com/products/octb

    Looking for visions of survival against all odds in dynamic balance. No easy answers ever.

  2. Care and responsibility are two things that humankind does not seem to be extremely good at. I agree with you- there will be no real end to this.

  3. Yes, you have summarized the situation we are in so well. I don't think humans will rise to the occasion and summon the care and responsibility required to survive this. I am reminded of Gary Snyder's poem For The Children:

    The rising hills, the slopes,
    of statistics
    lie before us.
    the steep climb
    of everything, going up,
    up, as we all
    go down.

    In the next century
    or the one beyond that,
    they say,
    are valleys, pastures,
    we can meet there in peace
    if we make it.

    To climb these coming crests
    one word to you, to
    you and your children:

    stay together
    learn the flowers
    go light

  4. It will be interesting to see whether we can all approach our lives with more balance moving forward. As I understand it coronaviruses are quite common and mutate relatively easily, so I don't think we'll ever be entirely rid of them. But then, they've always been around, so I'm hopeful that we reach a level of herd immunity with this one and then have a period of "normalcy" before the next dangerous mutation arises.

  5. I imagine it WILL be here forever. But I hope for effective treatments and permanent vaccines over time. I want you to see your grandchild.

  6. we can only hope that this creates a sea change in human behavior because if it doesn't it won't matter if covid or the next thing kills us because we are making the planet uninhabitable by human beings.