The first half of Jaishtha on the Bangla calendar is already over. It means high summer in this part of the world also ends within a fortnight. But it is clear that this has been a summer with an agreeable difference. Scorching heat, heat waves or heat strokes claiming lives mark the extreme weather that usually prevails during this time of the year. This year has clearly been an exception. Has coronavirus then banished the sweltering heat?
Credit certainly goes to the virus for this milder summer. What the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an intergovernmental body of the United Nations, could not impress upon a few of its key members, the virus has done it quite easily -albeit by default and at a colossal cost of both life and property. If the IPCC gave a call for halting movement of automobiles let alone shutting down factories and industries the world over for a day or even hours, its plea would surely have gone unheeded.
The IPCC has unsuccessfully been persuading policymakers of many nations to limit the carbon dioxide emission at a level where the anthropogenic interference with the climate system does not trigger global warming to a precarious point -a point of no return. But the compulsive lockdowns in several stages all across the world has left their positive impact on global temperature. Day-to-day meteorological readings -either local or global -confirm that the planet has certainly become cooler than before. All because of the lockdowns enforced by governments including those not keeping their faith in the IPCC's protocol!
The threat of a second wave or return of the pandemic in the autumn or winter still looms large, as top epidemiologists in the United States of America and elsewhere predict. Had the breakout of the pandemic and its recession been more or less at the same time, it would be easier for opening up of economies everywhere. But when worst-hit countries in Europe seem to have passed the highly critical period, America, Asia and Latin America have been struggling in the virus's tighter grip.
Intriguingly, the United States and some of the South Asian countries including Bangladesh have opted for reopening economies when the pandemic is wreaking havoc. Spain, Italy and France have gone for tentative reopening only after the numbers of death and infections have dropped drastically to what is called a 'flattening of the curve'. What consequences of the reopening before such a reduction in death and cases will be is quite unknown. In case of America, the visitation of Covid-19 in autumn and winter has been predicted by experts. What about Bangladesh, India or Pakistan?
If no idea of this can be had right now, one thing can be guessed with some certainty. It is the rise in temperature. With automobiles, factories and industries going into operation, global warming will continue to rise. If the threat of the pandemic recedes further, productive units -from small ones to the giants -will try to make up the losses suffered.
Amid the hullaballoo the sane voices of climate scientists will drown. But this pandemic has offered a most sobering lesson for policymakers and the wealthy people called superrich in whose interests there is so much urgency for reopening well before the departure of the virus or finding an effective cure or a vaccine.
At stake are the lives of the poor and low-income people. How much will the billionaires or millionaires suffer? Will they go hungry for the contraction of their business empires or total wealth? They could have gone for a thorough soul searching and accepted the losses as a natural justice. Instead of lamenting for the decrease in their wealth, the 10 per cent wealthy people possessing 90 per cent of the global wealth could have taken the responsibility of the hungry for the period the pandemic prevails.
Such a move would have set a new equation between and among individuals and classes. Many with far less wealth have been doing all they can do to help fellow human beings in distress on account of the disease. If the mindset for amassing unlimited wealth cannot be changed for sharing with the less fortunate, this pandemic will have left no lesson for the human race. But here was a defining moment to take advantage of aimed at setting a new world order.