News & Views in Hertford Heath

Unintended Consequences

Unintended Consequences

The Corona Virus pandemic is a nightmare and has sadly resulted in the loss of a huge number of lives. It is sobering to reflect that, despite our sophisticated society and modern way of life with all the associated developments in medical science, the whole of the human race is fatally threatened by a virus.

In the absence of a vaccine the most effective weapon we have is for us all to live in isolation from each other, minimising our physical contacts and remaining inside our houses as much as possible. A lock down. Only a few weeks ago the prospect of this as a way of life would have seemed impossible, preposterous and completely impractical. Yet here we are four weeks into the lockdown and collectively, somehow we have made it work.  
Our cars remain on the drive, the planes are grounded and the sky overhead is free from their traces. According to the government data our use of transport has dropped by a staggering 90%+. There is an irony in the unintended consequences of the virus pandemic. On the one hand it represents the greatest health risk in living memory; on the other hand the positive benefits of a massive reduction in transport usage has resulted in a significant improvement in air quality. The air we breath is much, much, cleaner at the moment than under business usual. Our lungs, young and old, are no longer trying to process particulates and poisonous gases. That has to be good news.  Large cities have benefited the most with places like Delhi and Beijing for example seeing clear blue skies instead of the normal grey smog.
Its worth thinking of the health benefits of conquering the virus pandemic and at at the same time keep the benefits of better air quality. That would rely on us all not reverting back to business as usual in terms of our transport habits. If we could manage a significant reduction in our use of cars and planes then undoubtedly we would all be healthier but we would also be able to have a significant impact on the seemingly relentless impacts rising CO2 levels and global warming.
There is no silver lining to the current pandemic but it does show that with modern communication technology just what can be achieved without travelling. Perhaps we should be investing massively in the internet and improving the speed of data and communications links rather than building more roads. 

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