Image credit: “We will never leave here”: oil painting by Borda via DeviantArt
As you’re reading this, the world isn’t just fighting a pandemic of COVID-19, already labeled #coronapocalypse — a tiny biological organism that in the nearest months will more or less affect most of us in a social, economic, or healthcare way and teach us how fragile a society we are.
As you’re reading this, the world is also fighting an invisible, stifled, secretive pandemic — and more than one. So much more that neither the planet nor we can really handle the burden, a burden that would demand a second mother Earth to provide for our gargantuan appetites in just a few dozen years. But even if we did have the option of second Earth, it seems our subconscious knows better than to believe in a happily-ever-after outcome for colonizing Mars.
As of 2020, suicide has become the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with 10x more people annually taking their life in the U.S. than the current global coronavirus death toll; depression rates among college-age adults are spilling over into a national mental-health issue of psychologically unstable future parents, workers, employers; and “the loneliness epidemic” has a health toll analogous to 15 cigarettes a day — with no ban from the CDC over Facebook coming soon. All this while we’re trying to convince ourselves that dodging coronavirus, having more sex, and once upon a time booking a seat on a Space X rocketship can save the world’s future.
As of now, we aren’t just stacking up on beans, cans, and toilet paper for the coronavirus outbreak. Nothing deeply wrong with that. But every single year, we’re collectively dumping 420+ million tons of waste on mother Earth, turning what was once rain forest, wildlife refuge, town, someone’s neighborhood into a dump stinking with gone-out-of-fashion smartphone models, cars, appliances, and crumpled soda bottles. As our supermarkets throw out 43 billion pounds of food every year, we’re simultaneously running out of food resources and “unable” to feed the 12% of the global population still suffering from hunger — in the year 2020, after 59 years of flying regularly to space.
As we dig and dig for resources, with over 17 billion extracted globally this year; as we need more and more power for having those anticipated tech releases on schedule — we force masks upon the population catering to our technological and manufacturing whims long before those masks are in need for the coronavirus. Just take a look at the pollution maps from before and during the coronavirus outbreak in China — how drastically the skies have cleared since manufacturing slowed down. The downside? We’ll ship iPhone 9 a few months later.
If there’s anything COVID-19 can teach us, it is the extreme fragility of our society. A society that’s so interconnected and interdependent that a tiny microorganism can wreak tremendous havoc within it.
And if so, now may be a good time to ask ourselves — what kind of panic will we be in when the risk to our population isn’t the 2%-5% of the coronavirus, but the 90% threat of draining all the major resources of our planet by the time it takes our grandchildren to go to college.
For a moment, think of that and how those stats compare to the coronavirus epidemic we’re all on our toes about. And yet, world governments aren’t taking unprecedented measures, aren’t proclaiming cautionary guidelines, aren’t pushing for drastic bills to cure our environment, society, and the planet.
Instead, we’ve fled to our psychological “isolation pods” and shut them tight. People like Elon Musk tell us — if worst comes to worst, how about exporting those pods straight to Mars on a Space X mission? But even if the idea fools some, it does not fool our young generation — including the 123 people per day in the USA alone who’re taking their own life because the world they see is not the world they can believe in.
Today, as we fight a challenge posed to us by coronavirus — a challenge that will strain our everyday life, society, and economy, but will pass, let us consider the challenge that we’ll never gain immunity to: that of our decaying environment and suffering young generation. These two challenges, two ‘pandemics’ in their own right, that in essence, are closely linked.
Today, let us start thinking as earnestly about the environmental threats as about the epidemiological threats, and give the generation that’s unconsciously giving up on their future, a chance to blossom on Earth.
Otherwise, when we’re all gone, all that will remain of us is a junk pile of outdated smartphones.
— Angela Yurchenko, March 2020