A cure for grumpiness

March 12, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

It won’t be easy, that’s for sure, to change the flow in the face of pandemic grumpy/grouchiness. Yet, if there were ever a time when grumpiness needed to be confronted, this is it. 

I was listening to an As It Happens, CBC Radio 1 program, to Carol Off interviewing a chap in Italy, talking about Italy’s being “locked down” to stem the flood of the deadly Coronavirus, which has crippled much of the world with fear of its ability to spread so easily and rapidly. 

He told her, “We love our country and if this is what we have to do, then we will. It is a disaster for the economy but we will find a away back.”

The entire country and its 60 million people, have sent the tourists home and everyone else is confined to a nation-wide self-quarantine, a legal move, with punishment for illegal travel, and even shopping can lead to a three-month prison sentence. A terrifying prospect, given the extent of the disease’s spread in prisons and the riots against the inadequate efforts to control CoVid- 19 for prisoners.

One person from each household is allowed to shop for groceries and special permits may be issued to those who can show essential reasons to travel for work. Otherwise, the once sometimes overwhelmingly crowded streets, cathedrals, and historical sites of Rome and the other great Italian cities are empty. The cost to Italy’s economy is very hard to measure, considering that at least 30% of Italy’s GDP is based on tourism, but this heavy-handed way of dealing with the increasingly rampant medical crisis, world-wide, may also be the solution to the virus’s threat world-wide.

There’s another thought for you. All those airplanes on the ground; all that pushing and shoving at the airport and on those crowded streets and places; all those pounding events, both in the form of festivals and sports – quieted.

When the twin towers in New York came down on September 11, 2001, and a no-fly zone was put in force over the entire United States for three days, the temperature of the ground lowered by 2 degrees Celsius. What we have known for years and tend to ignore ’cause we want go places and get there fast, is that airplanes are serious contributors to global warming.

So if, by and large, air travel is dramatically reduced, albeit for a short time of a month or so and we see clearly what a difference that makes, would we work harder to manufacture excellent air transportation, that is “greener”?

Are the very necessary steps being taken by the Italian authorities to bring the sudden and surprisingly vicious CoVid-19 to a halt going to lead us to a sudden and surprisingly energetic burst of money and development into making all kinds of transportation better, cleaner, more moral?

Plus: over the last week or so, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salam of Saudi Arabia, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia have been playing, like kids in a playground, with the price of oil and the world’s economy, each threatening to manipulate the market and, even, to dump the price of oil to $30 a barrel. In order for oil companies and countries dependent on them, like Saudi and Russia (and Canada), oil prices must run at $60 to $120 a barrel. Face it: the era of oil is over.

Thus, what so many of us have been saying is: invest the oil billions in green energy and make it work profitably. Is this message being given the chance to take root as CoVid-19 cuts airplanes out of the air and the politicians play with the price of oil as though they were sitting at a table with marked decks of cards?

Patricia and I, I confess, disembarked from an airplane this week on our return from a second break in Cuba, where thus far there have been no confirmed CoVid-10 cases and CNN was the only news on the television we barely watched. However, the pandemic got lots of coverage and we were surprised at how little attention it received amongst the crowds at Pearson. 

We wore gloves and masks as soon as we were in the terminal but we were just about the only ones, including the airport staff. Incidence of the virus is low here but it rose from a count of one person who travelled in the subway to about 40 persons infected, in Toronto, in the single week we were away.

Money in endless zeros is being chucked at the potential loss of income due to the closure of workplaces. We must deal with CoVid-19 and understand the message it brings about how humans live habitually in a state of filth.

I hope my optimism in the face of danger is clear: this could be a moment of massive global change where two serious threats: one natural, one manipulated, finally shine very bright lights on the economics of energy – that they must change for the future of the planet and our children.

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