“Nothing is good or bad for thinking that makes it so” – William Shakespeare
I marvel at how great minds have expressed truisms that have lasted for so long and yet go unnoticed by so many of us these days. I chose this one from Shakespeare’s ” Hamlet ” because it is one we need to keep in mind as we face the challenges facing us now and in the future.
As some of the lockdown restrictions imposed upon us by COVID-19 are lifted, we should be thankful for that, but still remain vigilant because this virus will in all probability hang around to haunt us again. For the present, we can now go outside and use our parks and trails to get a breath of fresh air and some much needed exercise. As our days slowly morphed into spring, we joyfully welcomed this small step forward to some kind of normality which will hopefully relieve some of the stress that many Canadians are feeling during this time.
After recently slogging through a day where there was little news other than the latest statistics indicating that our number of coronavirus cases was still increasing, that we would have to keep washing our hands and carry on with our social distancing at least until the end of June, I couldn’t help feeling that life basically sucked. Fortunately, the next day I was snapped out of my sombre state with these words written by the Indian author and political activist, Arundhati Roy. I get many emails these days relating to COVID-19. Most of them get deleted because after awhile they become repetitive. However, this one from Greenpeace with Roy’s insight on what we could expect in the future, caught my attention. It hit upon something that was bothering me: Have we already forgotten about the climate crisis that faced us before COVID-19 reared its ugly head? We may be hearing that air pollution has decreased in some parts of the world and certain birds and animals we haven’t seen around for awhile are appearing in the almost deserted streets of New York and Paris, but does this mean our climate is now okay and we won’t have to worry about that any more? I doubt it! However, Roy’s words in the following quotation show us that there is an opportunity being offered to our world by the pandemic which I would like to share with you:
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It’s a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcusses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And be ready to fight for it.”
“I am so excited!” Seems strange to be writing this when there is so much despair in our world at this time. Probably the first thing that will come to any reader’s mind would be “What on earth has she got to be excited about?”
This unexpected feeling hit me when I tuned into my favourite radio station, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, more commonly known as the CBC. What caught my interest was an interview with small business owners across the country who are moving their companies forward using their ability to take the tools that they already have and apply them in a manner that can produce a new product that will be helpful in our war with the Coronavirus.
I have to chuckle to myself every time I begin to write a post on my blog because there in front of me are always the words: “What is on your mind?” If truth be told there is always something on my mind since I suffer from the disease that most of us have today and that is over thinking.
What a loaded question for us bloggers at this time! How could the thing on our minds be anything other than COVID-19 which has taken over our world in such a short time? For the past week we have been daily, if not hourly, bombarded with information on the latest government action based on our need to self-isolate, practice social distancing, and how we can deal with it…or else!
The day for the climate change protest… or parade* as the Thai prefer to call it… to address the air pollution problem in Chiang Mai came close to being a non-event for me. After having some doubts about braving the heat and smog to get to the starting point, I decided I must do the right thing and make the effort to appear at least to show my support. Grabbing my hand made poster, sunhat, facemask, water and other sundries needed for protection and hydration, I started out.
It’s not easy for us to make the changes we know we should make in our lives no matter how much we would like to. As human beings this has been our greatest challenge and still is today as we face what appears to be a never ending litany of problems around the world. Most of us agree that our number one challenge is how to deal with our changing climate and yet we seem to be unwilling to make the necessary changes to deal with it.
Last year I wrote a post entitled Waking Up to the Effects of Climate Change resulting from my visit to Chiang Mai in April when the city’s pollution index soared high enough to beat out New Delhi in India. Granted it can be exciting to gain world recognition for being the best at something, but in this case to break the record for being the most polluted place in the world has done this city no favours. It’s now February 2020, and I have seen no improvement. In fact, the pollution has gotten worse.
Upon arriving in Chiang Mai for my twelfth time, I have been noticing obvious and more subtle changes in the city that will have me seriously considering why I should continue to return and look at it as a possible second home.
The most obvious problem for me has been the air quality issue. I arrived on the fifth of January which is normally a good time to be here before the effect of the burning which occurs every year in the North wafts its way down to Thailand’s second largest and most popular city. This year smoke haze was already here to greet me with a pollution index climbing up to 170 PM2.5. This is considered too high and unhealthy for sensitive groups or people with respiratory problems such as the elderly or very young children. If it goes up to over 200, then we are in the very unhealthy range for everyone. Purple is over 300 so you can imagine what that must mean! Last year Chiang Mai managed to reach that level some days in late March and April when the effects of the burning and drought were at their worst. This year it’s all up for grabs. No one knows what it will be like this April. The odd thing about all of this is that not every day is so bad. Recently, the index registered a healthy 71 because of the the way the wind was blowing. We could see the mountains all around us, and I felt my energy returning. The next day it was back up to 170! The government says it’s going to clamp down heavily on the farmers who insist on burning so as to get in two crops for the season, but the big question is whether or not they will enforce that law? It’s always easier to say rather than do with promises the Thai have all heard before.