A new world?

The virus that’s sweeping the globe is forcing our society to undergo huge and rapid changes, many of which are already causing suffering and anxiety. The government has invoked the Blitz spirit, and people around the country are rising to the challenge.

When we’ve got the virus under control – which we will – with medicine to treat the sick and vaccines to protect the rest of us, I feel hopeful that we’ll emerge into a better world.

I hope that the connections we’ve made with our neighbours in these difficult times will take root and strengthen in Keynsham and all over the UK. We’ll understand more about social isolation and take time to talk to people who live alone in our communities.

I hope that we’ll change the way we work. People might realise they’re able to work from home more often, which will reduce traffic on our roads. Less traffic means less air pollution, fewer people suffering from the debilitating illnesses associated with it from asthma and COPD to dementia and cancer, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

I hope that we’ll realise we don’t need so much stuff in our lives. Of course, when this is all over, we’ll need to support businesses, which are suffering so badly, but I hope we’ll be happy with enough instead of more.

I hope that businesses – which are turning their production lines over to ventilators, hand gel and protective clothing – will continue to do the right thing for society as well as for their shareholders, recognising the importance of the health and wellbeing of people and the planet.

I hope that we’ll understand that planetary health is inextricably linked to human health. Scientists know that humanity’s destruction of biodiversity creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases like Covid-19 to rise and spread. Let’s all protect the diversity of nature local to us and further afield.

I hope that people’s faith in experts is restored, our governments continue to be frank and open with us, and our fractured and polarised country unites.

These are my hopes for the future. But for now, my abiding hope is that everyone stays safe and well.

Transition Keynsham’s Liz Barling – Keynsham Voice column April 2020