These are strange times. Many are living with some type of restrictions in an effort to dampen the steep rise of COVID-19 cases. As such I am currently working from home. Or should I say juggling at home? Juggling between work and helping out my son with his homework and all the other things that need to be done at home.
Of course it isn’t fun not to be able to go out or to see friends and family. And of course it is a terrible time which causes a lot of anxiety and fear and we need to take the measures that have been put into place very, very seriously.
That being said, working from home isn’t all doom and gloom. There are also some perks.
A nice perk, which especially count when you live in Ireland is that weekdays can become weekend days according to the sunshine. For instance, yesterday it was just too sunny. So we rearranged the garden and enjoyed the sunshine.
Another nice perk is to sharpen the kitchen skills. Normally I would go almost every day and pick and choose the ingredients I needed to cook a specific meal. Now things have changed. We must be more inventive. Look in the cupboards what is there and try to make something nice out of it. That’s a challenge. But it’s great! It teaches us to be creative!
And those are just some of the smaller interesting positive things I can come up with. Another positive thing, which I really hope will continue to grow in this period and which will perhaps change the world much more then this epidemic has done so far is this:
Trying to fight invisible dangers when they have become visible and enormous is much harder than preventing them from happening in the first place.
I am of course referring to the hope that this epidemic makes us more ready to make changes to fight the dangers of climate change.
Climate change is coming. There is no doubt about it. A good example for this is the increasing occurrence of marine toxins, which are my main target in the foodsmartphone project. Marine toxins are produced by various small critters in the sea such as Diatoms, Dinoflagellates and Algae. These microorganisms produce those toxins to try and fight other microorganisms in the race of replication. And they produce more of them when the water is warm, when there is more sunlight and when there is a nice doses of nitrates and phosphates coming from urban wastewater for example. Thus, these organisms are thriving in the current conditions and will grow even more in the future. The toxins that are produced are a danger for marine life, including marvellous animals such as seals and dolphins. They are also a danger for our food production. Particularly for the consumption of filter feeders such as mussels or oysters who often consume algae and accumulate the toxins.
Unfortunately this is only an example. There are many other imminent problems that will show them self all too soon if we do nothing to stop climate change. A very interesting of which is ocean acidification. Briefly, lots of CO2 is absorbed in the ocean. This gives respit to the atmosfeer but it comes at a price. Absorbed CO2 in the ocean causes the pH of the oceans to go down, they get more acid. This has an effect on animals that have a skeleton made from calcium carbonate (such as mussels, and other bivalves) or aragonite (stony corals). Namely, calcium carbonate and aragonite start to disolve at acid pH. In fact the current predictions are that more then 90% of all coral will be in waters with a pH so low that it becomes physically impossible for coral to grow within twenty years from now. Unfortunately coral is not only very beautiful, it is also the ocean’s nursery…..
Thus, we need to change our global policies regarding CO2 emissions, plastic consumption, energy production and food waste and we need to do this now. Only then can we reduce the effects of climate change. If we react late our measures will need to be much stricter to avoid huge calamities in our food production chain.
It is my sincere hope that this epidemic will help us understand that we are not invincible. That things can go wrong. But, above all I hope it will help us understand that as a global community we are incredibly strong. We can fight COVID-19 and turn the tides. We can come together as one humanity and make drastic changes to our lifestyles for a common cause. Indeed 50% of the world’s population is in some sort of lockdown right now. And it is working. We are not of the hook yet but we are definitely starting to slow down the spread of this virus.
So my message is: Let’s do the same for Climate change!
- Let’s make it a political suicide for any politician to deny or underplay climate change.
- Let‘s come together across borders and construct binding policies to reduce CO2 emission.
- Let’s stop to take the car to work but use public transport instead.
- Let’s turn the heater down a degree or two and wear a pullover at home when it’s cold.
If we do these things and wake up then we may find in twenty years that climate change is under control. If we do that than we can be proud of ourselves.
We can be the generation that took action and avoided disaster.