Living with Coronavirus
Sunday August 22nd, 2021
Human beings have requirements in order to live on this planet. Climate has been making this more difficult for humans for many years already, but things have gotten, and are guaranteed to get much worse. I thought it might be worthwhile to explore what we face already, and see how it bodes for us to allow that to continue or worsen. Knowing an issue is the first step toward dealing with it.
Foremost among the needs for a human being to survive is the ability to breathe. This has two components, the ability of our lungs and body to physically breathe, and breathable air to breathe. Already the atmosphere is problematic. Many people suffer from asthma linked to long term exposure of particulates in the atmosphere. Pollution, smog, and more and more every year, wildfire smoke, affect millions worldwide. Polluted air causes medical issues which make it harder to breathe good air, and even harder or impossible to breathe polluted air.
Thusly the first component of human survival is already negatively impacted by climate, and the cause of it; human consumption of fossil fuels and the pollution that creates. We created this vicious circle ourselves and there is no quick fix or easy exit from what we have already done. Yet we continue, one by one, person by person, to use those fossil fuels. We have to in order to survive In this modern society we made.
A lack of these fossil fuels undermines our ability to function in a modern society. A lack of such functionality impacts all aspects of life as our work is dependent on our ability to get to work, which depends totally or in at least part on oil and oil products. We have no ready alternative and built our entire social structure on the back of oil. Without it this society cannot function and with it we all die from extreme climate events. We all have to re-think and rebuild a society which can function on little or no oil, and we need to be damn quick about it. We are starting 30+ years too late already.
The second major requirement of human survival is the ability to drink. Like air this also has two components, our physical ability to drink water and the availability of potable water to drink. If you are unable to drink some medical condition has already killed you. We might keep you alive via IV’s and forced water intake for a time, but the inability to drink water is a medical death sentence.
Ready availability for potable water is another story, and not a pretty one. In parts of Africa to this day, getting water is an 8-hour ordeal including a long walk, hand pumping the water, and a long walk back carrying that water. You don’t need to look any further than a recent weather disaster to grasp how little ability to acquire water we each have. Why do you think they have truckloads of bottled water to pass out at disasters? We Americans are, by and large, utterly dependent on others for our water. This is why in every disaster we see people handing out water, you cannot find potable water just lying around.
Thusly our second major need for survival is also under threat or already compromised by our dependence on systems for water already in use.
The third major need for human survival is the ability to adjust to weather, both through the use of clothing and the need of shelter from the weather itself. Herein we see the interconnectedness of our situation. We have a large and looming problem with homelessness, and the homeless, like all the poor the world over, will suffer disproportionately from weather events.
Imagine the recent heat wave without shelter or AC, without a shower or much potable water. Imagine the wildfires without a tv, radio or cell phone to warn you of the impending danger. Imagine the cold snap in Texas last winter, with no house to heat and no respite from the cold. Imagine getting ill but having no bathroom to use, no bed to recover in, and no money for medicines. This is the plight American homeless are in and the plight faced by the poor the globe over.
Most others find the need for shelter is paired with the ability, or inability, to pay the rent. A condition affecting millions of Americans now due to the Covid pandemic. The lucky few own their homes, but most of us do not. We own a bank note and the bank owns the home, and so the virus has compromised home ownership as well for a lot of us.
The fourth major need for human survival is the ability to eat. Like the first two it has two parts, our actual ability to eat and the availability of foods. If you are medically unable to eat, you are done, just like with water and air, but slower. The availability of foods is another issue vastly dependent on oil. We here in America and the western world, we have become spoiled by the ready availability of whatever we want to eat, whenever we want it. Instant gratification via microwaved frozen treats.
All of that is dependent on oil. Oil is either used directly to heat crops, or by products are used in pesticides, plastics, equipment manufacture and maintenance, and so forth. Then these foods are shipped, or flash frozen and shipped, packaged, shipped again to market warehouses, and shipped at last to your local store. There are a lot of oil dependent lynch pins in our food system and weather affects many of them. The reduction or elimination of fossil fuels use affects them all.
Weather affected by climate changes like drought, wildfires, floods, and storms will damage and destroy crops. It always has, and humanity has suffered many famines in the past. Modern famines affect the poor and primarily the third world. My mother was a depression era woman and recalled with ease what food scarcity looked like. Americans after her generation do not really grasp how quick it goes from feast to famine in a modern food system, it is literally overnight.
Now our first three primary needs for survival are damaged by our own mismanagement, with a fourth in constant jeopardy from climate change.
Our fifth human need is dual and interlocked. It is the ability to have secure area in order to sleep safely.
Sleep safety is something we take for granted a lot. We have our homes and soft beds to fall into. Without that we have to find somewhere to sleep. Somewhere sheltered, where you would not have to worry about wild animals, or worse, savage humans who also have unmet needs for food or shelter. If you stop and think “If a wildfire burned out my home tonight, where would I sleep from then on? Where would you go for the safe spot to sleep near you?
Now realize there is a damn fine chance that someone homeless is already there. In a disaster everyone is made homeless all at once. In that circumstance surviving homeless have an advantage. They have learned where to hide to sleep already, often the hard way, and they are not going to tell you. Sleep and safety are interlocked and often rely on shelter for security.
Can you see how the society we built over the last century is a house of cards to climate change? In our modern world breathing, eating, drinking, shelter, and our basic survival are all interwoven into that society itself. We are dependent on others we never know or meet for our own survival, unlike all previous epochs of humanity. We get our shoes from one continent, our phones from another, our entertainment from a third, and see fresh strawberries in the dead of winter as “normal”. We get those by growing food in the desert which we irrigate with water from somewhere else. All it takes is for a few cards to fail and our systems will collapse. They were not created with climate change in mind, or to form a more resilient society, but to maximize profit.
If they collapse the creators keep the money while we seek food or water.
“And this civilization of ours that we’re so proud of, this civilization with its so-called civilized behavior, you ever stop and realize how fragile all this is? How fragile the whole structure, how easily it can all just break right down, just break right down. It wouldn’t take much. It’ll probably happen in less than two years. It wouldn’t take much to throw us right back into barbaric times. All you’d have to do would be eliminate electricity. That’s all. But completely. Eliminate electricity. So, no electricity, no lights. You’re back to candles and lanterns. Campfires and bonfires. Batteries couldn’t be recharged. Generators couldn’t be refueled because fuel is pumped electrically. So is water, by the way. So no lights, no fuel, no water, no computers. And computers run everything.” –George Carlin “life is worth losing” (2006)
“We’re so self-important, so self-important. Everybody’s gonna save something now: “Save the trees! Save the bees! Save the whales! Save those snails!” and the greatest arrogance of all: “Save the planet!” What?! Are these fucking people kidding me?! Save the planet?! We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet! We haven’t learned how to care for one another and we’re gonna save the fucking planet?! I’m getting tired of that shit! I’m getting tired of that shit! I’m tired of fucking Earth Day! I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists; these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren’t enough bicycle paths! People trying to make the world safe for their Volvo’s! Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. They don’t care about the planet; not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live; their own habitat. They’re worried that someday in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.
Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet… nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine… the people are fucked! Difference! The planet is fine! Compared to the people, THE PLANET IS DOING GREAT: Been here four and a half billion years! Do you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years, we’ve been here what? 100,000? Maybe 200,000? And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over 200 years. 200 years versus four and a half billion and we have the conceit to think that somehow, we’re a threat? That somehow, we’re going to put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that’s just a-floatin’ around the sun? The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us: been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drifts, solar flares, sunspots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles, hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages, and we think some plastic bags and aluminum cans are going to make a difference?
The planet isn’t going anywhere… we are! We’re going away! Pack your shit folks! We’re going away and we won’t leave much of a trace either, thank God for that… maybe a little styrofoam… maybe… little styrofoam. The planet will be here, we’ll be long gone; just another failed mutation; just another closed-end biological mistake; an evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet will shake us off like a bad case of fleas, a surface nuisance. You wanna know how the planet’s doing? Ask those people in Pompeii who are frozen into position from volcanic ash how the planet’s doing. Wanna know if the planet’s all right? Ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble if they feel like a threat to the planet this week. How about those people in Kilauea, Hawaii who build their homes right next to an active volcano and then wonder why they have lava in the living room?
The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we’re gone and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself cause that’s what it does. It’s a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new paradigm: The Earth plus Plastic. The Earth doesn’t share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the Earth! The Earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the Earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place: it wanted plastic for itself, didn’t know how to make it, needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old philosophical question: “Why are we here?” PLASTIC!!! ASSHOLES!!!
So the plastic is here, our job is done, we can be phased out now, and I think that’s really started already, don’t you?” — George Carlin: Jamming In New York (1992)
The GOP is still in denial about the virus and still telling lies to its base and all of us about the virus, the vaccines, the masks, the last election, and even the violent insurrection we all witnessed. Both parties missed the lesson of Vietnam when it come to the locals who helped us. The Dems keep pushing against the red tide of misinformation trying to get people to mask and vaccinate.
“The basic notions of legitimacy in our republic depend upon us recognizing that the president and other elected officials were duly elected, It’s extremely problematic if that’s not the case.”– Justin Grimmer, a Stanford political science professor
The bogus election fraud allegations fall into two categories: claims based on “facts that are not actually anomalous” and claims based on facts “that are not actually facts.” (Which, put another way, can be described as “lies.”) All it takes to undermine democracy is for good people to be faced with a crock of lies and do nothing”.–Mark Z. Barabak LA Times
And the Virus “keeps on truckin” with hospitals overrun, nurses and doctors exhausted, with families burying their relative who refused to vaccinate or mask. Illness and death from covid has spread past the infirm like myself; those most at risk. Everyday now we see deaths in their 20s,30s, and 40’s, often leaving behind orphans. Now the pediatric cases of covid are climbing as well, while the GOP argues against public health in favor of individual liberty.
Global Infected 206,772,296 211,467,135
7-day average 670,691 infections diagnosed daily –UP
Global Dead 4,354,701 4,425,926
7-day average 10,175 deaths daily –UP
USA Infected 36,640,481 37,424,234
7-day average 111,964 infections diagnosed daily –Down slightly
USA C-19 deaths 621,253 628,342
7-day average 1,012 deaths daily –UP
Maine Infected 72,521 73,659
7-day average 173 infections diagnosed daily –Down slightly
Maine deaths 904 924
7-day average 2.8571 deaths daily –UP
“An Alabama doctor is tired of helping people who refuse to protect themselves and others — so he’s no longer taking appointments with anti-vaxxers. Mobile, Ala., physician Dr. Jason Valentine posted a photo on Facebook in which he’s seen standing in front of a sign that reads “Effective Oct. 1, 2021, Dr. Valentine will no longer see patients that are not vaccinated against COVID-19.” According to Valentine, three of his unvaccinated patients suddenly came to their senses and asked where they could get inoculated. “No conspiracy theories, no excuses,” he wrote on Facebook. “Just where do I go.” “If they ask why, I told them covid is a miserable way to die and I can’t watch them die like that,” he wrote.”
I still have Vuja De/Déjà vu, while all of this is never before seen, it is nonetheless a rerun. Bill Maher said recently that we are like “Thelma and Louise” as a species, holding hands as we drive off the cliff into the Grand Canyon. We just gave up without ever trying, as a species, to combat the serious issues of both the virus and climate change. A virus I think will be seen in history as part and parcel of climate change and human encroachment on what is left of wilderness.
Grizzly Flats, population 1200, was devastated by the Caldor Fire in northern California Aug. 17,2021. Very few homes were left standing in Grizzly Flats, where streets were littered with downed power lines and poles. Houses were reduced to smoldering ash and twisted metal with only chimneys rising above the ruins. A post office and elementary school were also destroyed. Fire officials estimated that at least 50 homes had burned in the area since the fire erupted Saturday and two people were hospitalized with serious injuries. –John Bartell ABC
As I worked on this real time history, I am beset with the notion that it is pointless as there may be no one left to ever use it, or learn from our errors. Relentless, the virus took another 71,225 human beings this week, of those 7,089 were my fellow Americans, and 20 my fellow Mainers.