Some Reasons to be Hopeful During the Covid-19 Pandemic

I am one of the extremely lucky ones. I have a safe roof over my head, food to eat, a bit of an income, work to do, and I don’t know anyone who has been critically ill because of the coronavirus. 

I say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the heroes working to keep people safe during this crisis, all the heroes working to find cures and solutions to the many problems we now face, and all the heroes who have remained kind and loving to their fellow humans and creatures throughout these challenging times. 

Even more than that, I feel I was pretty much built for self-isolation. Before anyone had even heard of the coronavirus, I had been working from home for months as a freelancer because I couldn’t stand working in an office. (And I wanted the freedom to move around at will without having to find a new job each time, but we won’t get into that one right now!) I had even been exercising from home before coronavirus hit because I don’t like going to the gym. 

So you could say the lifestyle changes I have had to make as a result of the lockdown have been pretty minimal. (Haha, that probably makes me sound like a bit of a nutter, but you know, who actually cares?)

As far as the evenings and weekends go, I absolutely love getting out and about and meeting folks, and I do miss the pints and the laughs and the odd yoga class here and there, but I’m usually just as happy with long bouts of horizontalism on the couch as well; something self-isolation makes very possible indeed. And at least I have a couch to be horizontal on in the first place. 

So the lockdown hasn’t directly affected me nearly half as much as it has a lot of others, and for that reason it’s probably quite easy for me to write this article and try to tell everyone it’s all going to be okay. 

But the truth is, we don’t know if it’s going to be okay; I suppose we never did. People are really suffering through this, many are dying, and the economic and social ramifications of the crisis are yet to be fully known. 

For those who are working on the front lines, those who have lost loved ones because of this, those who are really struggling financially and may have lost jobs or businesses, those who are struggling mentally and psychologically through the lockdown, those who are suffering from domestic violence and abuse, and anyone else who has been deeply affected by this crisis, the things I cover in this article may be of little consolation. 

The coronavirus is a fucking disaster when you take it all into account. It is causing unimaginable pain and suffering in so many ways to so many people. 

I say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the heroes working to keep people safe during this crisis, all the heroes working to find cures and solutions to the many problems we now face, and all the heroes who have remained kind and loving to their fellow humans and creatures throughout these challenging times. 

The real, beautiful heroes

We need to try and remain positive, together, if we’re going to get through this, and it is virtually impossible to do that without finding at least some cause for hope. So here are a few things that have happened since coronavirus hit that I think offer some reason for hope and optimism. 

Nature is Making a Comeback

The lockdown has given us absolute proof that our current way of living is incompatible with nature, and that we need to make some changes moving forward if we’re to have a prosperous, sustainable future.

Many of us have probably seen the pictures and heard the stories, and some of us have maybe even witnessed it first-hand. As people are forced to stay inside, nature seems to be flourishing. 

The canals in Venice have gone crystal clear for the first time in years. The fish have become visible and the swans have returned. Goats, wolves, deer, monkeys, coyotes and all sorts of animals have decided to wander further than normal into cities around the world in the absence of humans. Wildlife is filling up open spaces in Yosemite park in the US that would normally only be occupied by tourists.

The list goes on! In the absence of big cargo ships the oceans are now quieter, which is helping whales and marine life communicate more effectively and navigate their habitats better. Endangered sea turtles in Florida are now thriving and laying more nests than usual due to the lack of humans and harmful waste near the beaches. The Himalayas have even become visible in parts of India that haven’t seen them for 30 years because of air pollution, and geoscientists have found that the Earth’s crust is actually vibrating less due to reductions in human activity. 

The absolutely gorgeous Himalayas, as seen from a small town in India for the first time in over 30 years.

The examples of nature thriving while the human world has been on lockdown go on and on, and on top of all this, living in a city where you normally can’t see them, I’m nearly sure the stars are much more visible than they were before corona!? Or maybe that’s me going a little mad? 

The point is, nature seems to be thriving in our absence, and while some would see this realisation as a great big horrifying spotlight that reveals how damaging our current way of life is to the world around us, I would see it as a gift, and an opportunity. To change our ways.

The lockdown has given us absolute proof that our current way of living is incompatible with nature, and that we need to make some changes moving forward if we’re to have a prosperous, sustainable future. 

And you know what? It seems we’re already starting to change for the better, in a really big way! 

Renewable Energy is Taking Over 

During the lockdown, it has become quite clear (in more ways than one) that air pollution is a huge problem for us normally, and for nature. 

Amazingly, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, during the month of April, in Europe alone, there have been 11,000 fewer deaths than normal from pollution as a result of the lockdown and subsequent reduction in fossil fuel-related emissions. And that’s just for one single month in Europe. The worldwide number since the lockdown began is sure to be much larger. 

‘The authors of the report say the response has offered a glimpse of the cleaner, healthier environment that is possible if the world shifts away from polluting fossil fuel industries.’ And it seems we are already starting to do just that. 

Solar and onshore wind power are now the cheapest new sources of electricity in at least two-thirds of the world’s population.

In January and February in the US, renewable energy sources produced 10.6% more electricity than coal, with solar-generated electricity expanding by 32% compared to the same period of 2019, and wind growing by 19.8%. Wind power produced 32.5% of Ireland’s electricity in 2019, compared to 29% the previous year, and just this week, Britain has broken its record for coal-free power generation, going over 20 days so far without using any coal at all to produce electricity. And these are just some of the examples. 

A report this week by BloombergNEF stated that ‘solar and onshore wind power are now the cheapest new sources of electricity in at least two-thirds of the world’s population, further threatening the two fossil-fuel stalwarts — coal and natural gas.’ A report from the International Energy Agency this week even suggested that ‘the outbreak of Covid-19 would wipe out demand for fossil fuels’ and that ‘the steady rise of renewable energy combined with the collapse in demand for fossil fuels means clean electricity will play its largest ever role in the global energy system this year, and help erase a decade’s growth of global carbon emissions.’

I wanted a groovy photo for this section and I found this, which I think is astonishing. I also think the wind turbines make the landscape look even more impressive? (Especially when you contemplate what their purpose is)

The evidence of this can already be seen as just this week, the oil company Shell ‘has slashed its shareholder dividend for the first time since the second world war and warned it is facing a “crisis of uncertainty” following the collapse of global oil prices.’ 

And while all this has been going on, solar cell technology has smashed three big efficiency records in the last few months, becoming more productive and cost-effective than ever before. 

So it seems clear we are on the brink of a world that runs on clean, renewable energy, where air pollution is reduced for good, lives are saved, and nature can finally breathe again. And importantly, it now makes more financial sense to use renewable energy over fossil fuels, and we all know money makes this world go around; so the transition to renewables is pretty much a sure thing. 

But what was that I said about nature breathing again?? 

The World is Going Tree-Crazy 

Fortunately, it seems, the trees are unable to catch coronavirus, and will continue to grow while we all stay inside! 

Although most of us have been stuck inside these past few months, many great organisations around the world have been trying their best to continue regenerating the earth by strategically planting trees and implementing carefully designed re-wilding projects. 

Organisations like Justdiggit, Mossy Earth, Ecosia, Eden Reforestation Projects and so many others have been sharing updates and promising results from projects initiated before the lockdown began, as well as working on plans to implement new land regeneration projects once the lockdown is over. 

Here’s a super-recent update from Ecosia (Ecosia is a search engine you can use instead of Google where every time you search for something you contribute to the planting of a tree) detailing the heartwarming results from their current ongoing tree-related projects, and discussing some of their plans for future projects. It seems, the future is green!

Because these projects are very carefully designed, and involve planting only native trees and implementing interventions that specifically benefit the local environments in question, they are helping to increase biodiversity worldwide, improve air quality, and ultimately, cool down the entire planet! Fortunately, it seems, the trees are unable to catch coronavirus, and will continue to grow while we all stay inside! 

In other treemendous news, in order to provide income for workers who lost their jobs in Pakistan as a result of the coronavirus-lockdown, the government there has offered unemployed day labourers work planting trees as part of their ‘10 Billion Tree Tsunami Programme.’ Officials say the move will create more than 60,000 jobs, and is seen as ‘an example of how funds that aim to help families and keep the economy running during pandemic shutdowns could also help nations prepare (for climate change).’ The aim is to plant a ‘10 billion tree tsunami’ throughout Pakistan over the course of five years. 

And if that’s not enough trunk for your junk, they’ve also recently announced in Wales that they’re going to build a national forest that will run the entire length of the country, ‘in hopes of preserving nature, improving biodiversity, and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, among other goals.’ Now that’s a whole lot of trees! 

And I’m sure there are plenty of other tree-related projects going on around the world right now that I haven’t mentioned if you ‘do a little digging’ yourself, haha, so basically it seems that a lot of wooded areas are flourishing during the lockdown. 

But what about urban areas?

Cities are Going Car-Free 

Who needs smelly cars when there’s trees and bikes? Here’s what Utrecht will look like in a year or two.

Well it seems like a lot of city-centres could be cleaning up their acts too post-corona. 

After witnessing air pollution and traffic congestion drop dramatically during the lockdown, the city of Milan in Italy ‘is to introduce one of Europe’s most ambitious schemes reallocating street space from cars to cycling and walking, in response to the coronavirus crisis.’ The city has announced that 35km of city streets will ‘be transformed over the summer, with a rapid, experimental citywide expansion of cycling and walking space to protect residents as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.’

It seems like we could be moving towards a world where even city centres have clean, healthy, breathable air.

This is a very encouraging example of how humans are already planning major, positive changes to our behaviour in response to the environmental truths the corona crisis has bestowed upon us. 

And these changes aren’t just happening in Milan. The city of Utrecht in the Netherlands announced plans in January for a completely car-free neighbourhood at the centre of the city which will house 12,000 residents, and is to be constructed over the next couple of years. 

Combine these examples with the many other cities around the world that are working to eliminate cars from their streets in different ways, and it seems like we could be moving towards a world where even city centres have clean, healthy, breathable air. 

Now if you ask me, that sounds like something worth celebrating. 

Airport Expansions are Being Denied 

It has seemed for so long in this world that the financial bottom line always wins, but from these examples of community, people, and common sense triumphing over the money men, it could be that the old, ‘profit-over-all-else’ reality might well be starting to change.

Something else that’s always worth celebrating is a win for the little guy, and there have been plenty of those going around in the last few months when it comes to local residents and environmentalists campaigning against airport expansions in the UK! 

London Heathrow, London Stansted, and Bristol airport in England have all had major expansion plans rejected since January because the environmental and societal impacts of these proposed expansions outweighed the economic benefits. 

It really can’t be stated what a massive result this is for anyone who values human wellbeing and environmental health over relentless and unsustainable economic growth. It has seemed for so long in this world that the financial bottom line always wins, but from these examples of community, people, and common sense triumphing over the money men, it could be that the old, ‘profit-over-all-else’ reality might well be starting to change. 

And if it’s examples of the little guy triumphing over the tyrant you’re looking for, what about a peach grower winning a huge lawsuit against an all-powerful multinational corporation? 

Even Monsanto is Taking a Beating  

Well that’s exactly what happened in the US back in February

Turns out, Davo can beat Golio.

I don’t know if you’ve heard about Monsanto, the American agrochemical company acquired by German multinational pharmaceutical company Bayer in 2018, but it’s a pretty infamous name. 

Monsanto has been ridiculed for years for producing harmful pesticides and herbicides, and it has recently been revealed through the release of internal documents that Monsanto was ‘aware for years that their plan to introduce a new agricultural seed and chemical system would probably lead to damage on many US farms.’ 

The documents also revealed how Monsanto ‘opposed some third-party product testing in order to curtail the generation of data that might have worried regulators,’ and that they downplayed risks ‘even while they planned how to profit off farmers who would buy Monsanto’s new seeds just to avoid damage.’ 

According to industry estimates, several million acres of crops in the US are thought to have been damaged by Monsanto’s dicamba-based herbicides. 

Monsanto was ‘aware for years that their plan to introduce a new agricultural seed and chemical system would probably lead to damage on many US farms.’ 

So it was really great to see Missouri-based peach farmer Bill Bader taking Monsanto’s new owners Bayer to court earlier in the year, saying his ‘1000-acre orchard was irreparably harmed by herbicide that they produce,’ and winning the case. 

Mr. Bader was granted ‘$15 million in actual and $250 million in punitive damages’ as a result of the court case, and herbicide providers Bayer and BASF will face ‘at least 140 similar cases’ in US courts later this year. (Or whenever the lockdown is over)

A truly massive win for the little guy, and hopefully a warning to big corporations in the future that they can’t just continue placing financial profits over everything else moving forward. 

Scuba Divers are Planting Coral Reefs in Australia 

Coral reefs are an essential component of underwater ecosystems, as they support biodiversity by providing habitats and shelter for marine animals.

Speaking of folks who reckon there are more important things in this world than just making money, without any paying customers during the pandemic, instructors working for Australian scuba diving tourism company Passions of Paradise have been using their free time to plant coral in the great barrier reef. 

They have so far planted over 1,000 pieces of coral on Hastings reef near the city of Cairns in north-eastern Australia, and are working to bring as much life back to the reef as possible while the lockdown continues. 

Look how absolutely flipping fabulous coral reefs can be.

Coral reefs are an essential component of underwater ecosystems, as they support biodiversity by providing habitats and shelter for marine animals. Hopefully, with more efforts like this beyond the pandemic, we can work together to ensure that coral reefs stay healthy around the world for years to come. 

Rival Gangs call a Truce in South Africa 

This one is really quite astonishing. 

Since social-distancing restrictions were implemented in South Africa, violent crime has gone down by roughly 75% across the country. But going a step further, in one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in the country, two rival gangs have called a truce, and have actually started working together to help distribute essential goods throughout the community. 

Some of the gang members involved have ‘expressed hope that this current ceasefire in gang violence could be permanent in the post-lockdown future,’ while a local pastor who works with some gang members in the community has stated that “what we’re seeing happen here is literally a miracle.”  

This is worth a watch. Hate is never permanent. Love.

Well if not an actual miracle, then certainly this is an incredible cause for hope. You would imagine that by working together, and becoming familiar with each other as humans, that these violent gang members might start to see the similarities in each other, and the common struggles that they all share. We are all human, after all. 

And surely if it is possible for opposing gang members who have directly hated each other and murdered each other for years to put their differences aside, for the greater good of their community in a time of crisis, it might be possible for all of us, as a species, to put our differences aside and call a collective truce, in order to build a better world for everyone after this pandemic is over? 

This beautiful truce in South Africa would suggest that it is possible for us to come together and love each other.

Surely if it is possible for opposing gang members who have directly hated each other and murdered each other for years to put their differences aside, for the greater good of their community in a time of crisis, it might be possible for all of us, as a species, to put our differences aside and call a collective truce, in order to build a better world for everyone after this pandemic is over? 

If that is going to happen though, we will need to start being kind to each other, and as it turns out, there has been plenty of kindness going around during this pandemic. 

There’s Been a Kindness Pandemic too 

It has become very apparent in the past few weeks and months, that in times of shared crisis, human beings can be tremendously beautiful creatures. 

This pandemic has really highlighted the human capacity for kindness, and there is no better example of this than the pure and distinguished selflessness and bravery being shown by front-line health professionals around the world. 

From a small corner shop in Scotland spending £2000 to give away free protective equipment to vulnerable pensioners, to an anonymous donor giving every household in an IOWA town $150 in gift cards for food, to a San Francisco man serving free coffee from his window to essential workers, to an Irish hotel delivering free meals daily to elderly and vulnerable locals, to a 16-year-old pilot flying much needed medical supplies to rural hospitals in Virginia, to a Georgia bar owner removing nearly $4000 worth of bills stapled to the walls of her bar to give to employees, to a Youtube gamer helping to raise nearly $660,000 for Covid-19 relief efforts, to a Brooklyn landlord cancelling rent for hundreds of tenants because he ‘didn’t want residents to stress about payment’ during the pandemic, to people across the US stocking ‘little free libraries’ with food and toilet paper to help their neighbours, to Sikh volunteers in Australia sending over 1.5 tonnes of free food to people struggling during the lockdown, to people in Italy using ‘suspended shopping’ to pay-it-forward and anonymously help pay towards groceries for people in need, to even multi-billionaires showing real generosity with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey donating $1 Billion, about 28% of his wealth, to Covid-19 relief efforts, it is clear that the coronavirus pandemic has also released a kindness pandemic across the world. 

There are so many people being kind to each other and helping each other as best they can during this crisis. If the examples above aren’t enough for you then there are plenty more here, here and here’s some more and there are countless other examples out there if you look for them. 

This isn’t even specifically corona-related, but does everything need to be right now? Honestly, I think this is such an incredibly beautiful example of the kindness we are all capable of showing each other. This video is full of the realest heroes on earth. And we all have the capacity to do the same. Love.

This pandemic has really highlighted the human capacity for kindness, and there is no better example of this than the pure and distinguished selflessness and bravery being shown by front-line health professionals around the world. 

Thankfully, regular people around the world are also being kind enough to show their love and appreciation for these real-life superheroes.

Essential Workers are Finally Being Appreciated 

These people deserve our utmost respect, and finally, that seems to be happening on a widespread scale. But they also deserve to be able to do their important jobs in the comfort that they are financially stable, and that their working conditions will always be maintained at an acceptable level.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be on the front lines of this war our species is currently fighting. All I’m doing is sitting at home being useless. 

But there are incredible super-humans out there risking their lives, their health, and I’m sure their sanity every day to help keep us all safe, and save as many lives as they possibly can. 

The thing is though, they have been doing this long before this pandemic started, and they will be doing it long after it finishes. These people make so many sacrifices, and dedicate their lives to maintaining the health and wellbeing of their fellow humans. 

More so than actors, musicians, athletes, celebrities, and all the kinds of ‘famous’ people we tend to idolise in this world, it is the healthcare workers, the firefighters, the teachers, the honest police officers, the delivery people, the folks working the bin lorries, the shop workers; the people who keep our society actually functioning that we should be praising and idolizing. 

There have been many beautiful examples around the world of police officers showing their appreciation for healthcare workers, New York residents applauding healthcare workers from their windows, people in Spain and Italy doing the same, and many other examples too, and this really is a beautiful thing to witness. The people who do the most important jobs in our society, starting to receive some of the credit they deserve. 

Beautiful, but we need to do more than clap. Love

But we must not forget, in non-crisis times, the reality is that essential workers are rarely ever given the financial or social compensation they deserve, and this is something that must change once the pandemic is over. 

These people deserve our utmost respect, and finally, that seems to be happening on a widespread scale. But they also deserve to be able to do their important jobs in the comfort that they are financially stable, and that their working conditions will always be maintained at an acceptable level.

Hopefully, once the pandemic is over, we will realise how much we owe these wonderful people, and this will start to become the new reality.  

We Have Been Given a Chance to Change our Ways

A terrible end, for a beautiful beginning?

We will get to go outside again. We will get to hug and embrace each other again. 

There are plenty of incredible minds working on vaccines around the world as we speak, and some reports have suggested that a vaccine could be available for limited use by the end of the year. Human trials have already begun. 

Of course, things will not be exactly as they were before when ‘normal’ life does finally resume. People are suffering all over the world, and it’s hard to tell what the world will really look like when all this is over. 

People will have lost loved ones, lost businesses, lost jobs. The global economy will take a huge hit. There is nothing but uncertainty ahead of us. 

But with uncertainty, comes opportunity. It’s hard to argue that we were heading in a generally prosperous direction before this pandemic began, so maybe we should try our best to see all of this as an opportunity to reset. Reset as individuals, and as a collective. 

In a world torn to shreds by cultural and political division, war, environmental destruction and financial inequality, this coronavirus crisis which has affected us all, has the potential to become the great equaliser. 

The coronavirus lockdown has shown us that by changing our ways it is possible for us to work together, with nature, and with each other, to create a cleaner, healthier, better world for all. 

In a world torn to shreds by cultural and political division, war, environmental destruction and financial inequality, this coronavirus crisis which has affected us all, has the potential to become the great equaliser. 

If we all allow it to be. Surely, if anything, that is at least, a cause for hope. 

Places to Donate and Contribute 

If you’re interested in donating financially to the fight against Covid-19, or to people in need during the coronavirus crisis, here are some useful links:

A place to buy groovy posters where all the proceeds go to women and children in need.

A Forbes list of ways you can donate to people during the Corona crisis.

A collection of non-profits and companies helping to fight the pandemic.

Donate to World Health Organisation efforts.

A list of charities who are offering relief during the pandemic.

Thank you, and goodness love bless you all. ❤

About the Author

Adam Millett is a freelance writer for hire who specialises in sustainability and environmental issues. He believes the economy should be circular, businesses should make the world a better place, and that effective content is the best way to spread the word about sustainability. Visit his website at wordchameleon.com if you want to bring your vision of sustainability to life.

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