Friday, March 20, 2020

My City My Responsibility - Win over COVID-19 and more!

Dear All, 

In my last blog I did mention that COVID-19 the pandemic is in a way helping us realize that coming together for working towards a cause can actually help us WIN over other existential threats too as human beings! This also reminds me about THANOS - my favorite character and the super villain from the sci-fi movie AVENGERS. Favorite because somehow he felt the need to attain sustainability unlike the so called superheroes. He however chose a wrong path - to wipe out people the way COVID-19 affects. All the superheroes formed an alliance and came together to put an end to THANOS on seeing a threat of human extinction. I feel a similar situation has been happening around us, where we see how all national and international governments and local bodies, companies private and public, researchers, celebrities, education systems, transport systems, medical systems, supply chains etc and not to mention us, the Citizens are coming together towards tackling this super villain and trying to save humanity. It is indeed commendable, however the way we behave or take actions now at various levels of operation (individual, community and governance) has a solution to a bigger problem. 

Why I feel so is because a LOCKDOWN helped reduce China's pollution though temporary but at drastic levels just within two month's time. China has been reportedly been the biggest air polluter taking thousands of lives especially kids and older people. But the lockdown and slowed economic activity led the reduction of pollution and saved lives to almost 20 times than the pandemic as per this source 
Here, I don't mean pandemics are good, but we can learn something from such a situation. 

Global emissions scoreboard
From my area of work (as climate researcher), the point that I want to make here is if we are to achieve the goal of 1.5 deg C temperature rise instead of 4.2 deg C by the end of the century, it seems to be easily achievable. Imagine each country taking turns to even partially lockdown (not because of some pandemic but voluntarily) and slowing down economic activity, transport especially with personal cars and stop flying for conferences and events just for a period of say 3 months or so...may be more or less depends, need to research..., we can tackle the bigger challenge of climate change. Can we look at the lockdown situation as a way to reduce our carbon footprints and also ecological footprints? Italy's water canals have reported the come back of dolphins and swans due to no human activity over just a few weeks! We can definitely give our life supporting systems some breather to restore and meanwhile decide the further course of action.

In one of our river restoration studies that we conducted last year as an alternative to the riverfront development plan, we did suggest a temporary period of 'No Access' to the river in order to restore the river, of course we cannot ban the access completely but in a situation like a lockdown this can be easily accomplished temporarily. 

Now that our lives are at stake, we are mandated to take drastic actions, lets not wait till such a situation arises through climate change. Just read recently, we need to stop human DOING for some time and start BEING human. 

Last but not the least, I am sure all of us have enough information on where India and Pune stands with the number of people affected and all....however in order to limit ourselves to get into the stage III mode we better quarantine ourselves completely and help each other. But more urgent and important - we need TESTING facilities for ALL since that will be one of the key ways to manage this chaos. South Korea has shown the way in this. On the other hand, India is one of the countries conducting the LEAST number of tests per million citizens! This is totally unacceptable and needs to change! The government has started expanding the testing capacity since this week, but it is not moving fast enough. We the Citizens need to start demanding more urgency on this! 

Safe Sanitizing!!!

Pournima Agarkar. 

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Arun Bandi said...

As is suggested in the larger interest, the covid-19 pandemic facing needs to be viewed slightly out of box thought process.

what it immediately needs is a voluntary and best protected doorstep daily needs supply chain logistic to be in place to have more abd more no of such curfews to be observed intermittently, till the affected area reduces considerably.
In cities and urban areas it needs to be taken up on war footing to keep the " CONTAGIOUS" effect in very meticulous control, which in turn can help control the spread of this high volatiluty corona virus which is much unprecedented to one and everyone.This also can be implemnted for medical and healthcare services including DISINFECTANT SPRAYS WHEREVER POSSIBLE.
pl do suggest

Anoopjaipurkar said...

Spot on, poornima!