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The Financial Express

The Broken Planet: Quest for Revival

Sabbir Ahmad   | Published: June 24, 2020 21:40:46 | Updated: June 24, 2020 21:42:17


The Broken Planet: Quest for Revival

It has now been a few months since we have started living in a different world. In the meantime, many of us became used to a life confined within our four walls. We are no longer rushing to a tea stall  in our neighborhood for socializing, purposely evading any offer to dine in a restaurant or to fly for business or pleasure.  It is not the biosphere that we have ever dreamt of living in, but instead, seems like one day we woke up in another world that is not so fine or friendly. That's all caused by one virus sending a devastating shockwave to our way of life.

While the microscopic virus delivered a huge blow to our livelihood, almost every move linked to humanity came to a stanstill. For instance, Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, a thriving city of approximately 20 million is suddenly free from its extreme traffic jams; airports, rail stations or bus stops quickly became empty. Bustling malls kept their doors shut despite permission granted to operate. Instead of buying jewelries or luxury goods, people became more interested in masks and oxygen cylinders. As we got used to the captive life, nature started to shine with a newfound freedom. A city with chronic air pollution started breathing again with noticeable improvement in its air quality. The country's popular tourist destination Cox's Bazar famous for its world's longest beach was also able to reclaim some of its splendors. The coastal town observed the return of the beach's morning glory, a common tropical creeping vine, considered to be avital part of the coastal ecosystem. This time, the whole planet seemingly doing just fine except one species, the  humans, continue to be tormented by the virus.  Up until the pandemic emerged, neither the  government nor the public could stop the overuse or abuse of the air, earth or water.With an endless angst, we are now observing how our lives came under seize by a tiny virus but have already broken the planet by acting like invaders, aggressively destroying the earth's ecosystem. While our leaders were still debating on the need for sustainability, Mother Nature couldn't wait anymore. She had already embarked on her journey toward an irreversible path of demise.

Some historians claim that 'a pandemic-driven world' comes every 100 years. Each time it comes wreaking havoc on human lives and leaves a trail of devastation on the economy when it exits. The irony is that tens of millions of people lose their lives due to  the pandemics whereas humans have killed each other in hundreds of millions during the same period of time. Viruses are not living things, they are complicated assemblies of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and carbohydrates. On their own, they can do nothing until entering a living body known as the host. On the contrary, humans are considered as the most advanced form of life with the highest level of intelligence among all known forms of life. Yet, they took gazillions of lives, on the pretext of race, religion, nationalism, revolutions or alleged self-defense. The economic impacts of those annihilations were varied from local to global scale and sometimes also created opportunities for one over the other.

There is no question if the present pandemic's going to affect the global economy. Some forecasts are even going out of the way to suggest that this would be the worst ever. In any case, astute humans  will find a remedy against the pandemic and a way to recover the economy sooner or later. Hence, the question remains whether we are learning from the experience today to permanently adjust to the way we live so that nature can stay as it should. Our capitalist economy built around greed, dominance, insecurity and most importantly ego didn't come to rescue us from the present pandemic. Our lifestyle that largely ignores the environment or turn a blind eye to the poverty, diseases affecting the masses will continue to hurt the future generations whatever we may call them X, Y, Z or Z+ gens.

Lately, many talk shows aired and articles published are calling for embracing a so-called new normal. Unfortunately, the idea of the new normal mostly aims at temporary adjustments of our behaviors to continue with our heartless capitalist agenda. This does not look for a radical shift in our lifestyle about  how we treat our nature or people. So  far, our shortsighted vision led us to  accumulate assets for  the next generation, without a real consideration for the fact that there would be many more.

Since the end of the second world war, many cultures had somehow believed that the self-styled leader of the free world, the USA, will protect the good people, us, from any enemy. Now this trust is shattered since the country is not able to play the role of a savior as they are struggling themselves not only with the pandemic but also with a primitive colour-based racial fault line. True or not, the media placed China under the microscope, the initial credibility regarding its battle against virus is now full of questions, and there are hundreds of legal demands from individuals backed by the elite lawyers at least in the USA, UK and France.

Unfortunately, many of the counties are suffering from lack of leaderships.  The perception is the blind populism like that in American, Mexican, or Brazilian leadership with an exception to that of Canada or New Zealand that clearly are taking care of their self-interests than paying attentionto their  people. In the continental Americas, this is the case from the 49th parallel to all the way to Antarctica. In Europe, except the classical Nordics and Germans, the perception is the same, the situation in Asia isn't any better with few exceptions.

The lack of public trust isn't going to help with the mayhem caused by the virus. Good governance is critical more than ever before, as people are struggling to survive. Governing reactively would merely bring about impaired judgement and evading processes and systems without careful management of risks comes at a great price and a series of unintended consequences.  

This perhaps hasn't start yet; our brain guards us against the potential abyss we might need to avoid. It's a domino effect, the virus kills the economy and kills loved ones, if not ourselves. The lack of a credible leadership and the notion that money can make people safer will heighten the tensions, and corruption will become more evident.This will make this world rather unsafe in terms of social and natural security. The public trust is crucial for our survival and to reshape our way of life by adapting to  the lessons learned from this pandemic. It is not just another disaster but should be considered as an opportunity to rethink and reconfigure our social fabric to revive and keep the planet livable for the generations to come.

Dr. Sabbir Ahmad is  a Director, Engineering at edotco Group. The views expressed in this article are personal, do not represent opinions from any organisation.

 sabbir@ieee.org.

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