Jack is a volunteer at the CCNY Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 100,000 views.
The coronavirus has changed our lives perhaps forever. What started as a bad case of the flu season has turned into a re-thinking of life as we know it. From how we interact with social distancing, to how we work, to how we entertain ourselves and how we travel.
It has impact on our economy, our medical healthcare system and our government and private industries. This also impacted our energy consumption.
For the global warming crowd, this should be welcome news.
- April 2020
Prior to this virus, the world was not really focused on climate change. Despite the dire warnings of the IPCC and the speeches by the activists like Greta Thunberg, the majority of the world population was blasé on this problem. When polls are taken, climate change did not even make the top ten issues.
The proposals to reduce fossil fuel and to convert to green energy and to recycle and to reduce our carbon footprint hardly made a dent despite of $ billions spent on tax credit incentives.
This virus changed all that, not just short term, but perhaps forever. This is good news for the climate change proponents. The things they were trying to do were out of reach just a short month ago. Today, we are doing more to reduce our carbon footprint as a result of the quarantine.
The environmentalists should be cheering. Gasoline prices is at record low and fracking has been shut down. People are driving less, flying less and staying put.
Even businesses are shutting their offices and making their employees work from home.
Everything has come to a halt except a few essentials like hospitals, groceries stores, gas stations, pharmacies, trucking and shipping.
Because of the virus and the dangers of transmission, we are recognizing the essentials. Food, medicine, energy and shipping are the only essentials for life. All the rest are luxuries.
- vacations, travel
- movies and Broadway
- Museums and arts
- Eating out
- shopping malls
There are a few winners. Those that provide essentials services and tools to help people live and work and entertain in this new norm.
- Zoom conferencing
- Netflix streaming
- Spotify music streaming
- package delivery
- food services
EF Schumacher Was Right
A German philosopher who wrote, Small Is Beautiful, was right while globalist was wrong. He believed economics is better and more efficient when done locally. Whereas a society that rely on global trade, tends to be helpless in time of crisis or disaster.
The same applies to how people live. An arrangement of people living close to where they work is preferred over large megapolis where people must commute long distances.
The Perfect Experiment...
Another silver lining to consider. This virus has given us an opportunity of a lifetime. This shutdown of the world will give us a data point. It may resolve a long standing argument between climate change proponents and skeptics.
We have voluntarily shut down a major part of our economic engine in order to stop the spread of this virus. A year from now, we should be able to see the effects.
If the climate change proponents are correct, we should be able to measure a noticeable change in the global average temperature. According to them, humans are contributing to 100% of the recent warming.
However, if we cannot see any noticeable difference, despite the drastic measures taken, perhaps the skeptics are right. The earth is just too large to be affected by human activity.
The economic impact is huge. A month ago, we were riding high on a robust economy. The DOW was at record high of 29,000. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5%. Barrel of oil was selling at $50 per barrel. We just signed a trade deal with China. We signed the USMCA trade deal with our neighbors.
The virus caused us to shut down our economic engine. We went into a recession and possibly heading into a depression down the road.
Climate change supporters are cheering but their celebration is subdued. Their winnings came at a high cost. Could the cure be worse than the disease?
Are we ready to settle into a new norm which may save our planet in the long haul but kill our prosperity right now?
The silver lining of this pandemic.
Some Related Info
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Jack Lee
Jack Lee (author) from Yorktown NY on April 17, 2020:
John, thanks for that info. I have no problem with any renewable energy sources replacing existing fossil fuel. However, they must be economically viable. We cannot subsidize things like solar and wind power when they are not competitive and still require traditional power plants as backups. This conversion should happen organically and not forced. Let the free market decide what is best.
John Coviello from New Jersey on April 17, 2020:
It's not a matter of being a climate change supporter or proponent. It's a matter of recognizing a potential physical atmospheric problem such as the atmosphere reacting to a rise in greenhouse gases and advocating for a changeover to energy and heating technologies that won't add greenhouse gases to our atmosphere. Those concerned about this eventuality would like to see the economy growing and robust, just running on non-greenhouse gas-emitting energy technologies. For example, we have the capability today to take CO2 out of the atomosphere and turn it into a fuel that can run cars, trucks, boats, and planes (yes, really this is possible and it could be refined using renewable energy). Since its feedstock is atmospheric CO2, it's a carbon-neutral way of powering the economy. Just one example of a carbon-neutral energy source. There are carbon-free ones too.
One interesting thing about the economic shutdowns is that it has revealed just how clean our air could be if we moved away from technologies that emitted pollution, like electric cars that are powered by renewable energy or fuel cells. Some of the pictures of cities around the world with clean air now versus their normal smoggy air are quite impressive.
Overall, this novel virus pandemic will keep academics busy for years as it has had many impacts on societies in many ways around the world that deserve to be studied.