It kind of shocked me to see the degree to which some New Zealanders were uneducated about the little shit that could have made a difference in the fight with corona-virus. My amazement started in one of the local Pak n’ Saves, about a week before level 4. It wasn’t the toilet paper that really shook me, it was the huge amount of people buying bottled water. I kind of get the toilet paper buying, I can see why you think you might want it. Still stupid, but I get it. However, water was a completely different ballgame. Buying water for a non-waterborne virus is some mob-mentality, panicky bullshit that I think represents a fundamental lack of basic knowledge as to how viruses actually work. Non-waterborne viruses won’t affect the water, your 50 empty plastic bottles will, your tap water is going to be fine. I swear people must have been watching Doomsday Preppers or The Book of Eli and finding inspiration for their purchasing in those.
It was also the amount of misinformation spread by plenty of people who don’t actually know how any virus works, least of all a virus that has never been seen before and hardly studied at the time. Celebrities, politicians, notables and plenty of people I know fell victim to it. I’m not saying I know everything but all I’m saying is that we should look to the people who do, instead of these people. People of science, people of medicine. I know many were just were trying to help but shit like “drink hot drinks, take hot baths and gargle some saltwater” was always going to do fuck all to help anyone. Let’s just agree to listen to the right people from now on, we’re going to need their help with what’s to come
From here, the shock of seeing this unpreparedness and misinformation, from governments and citizens alike, morphed into doubt about our preparedness for the next generation of problems on the doorstep. Climate change, resource depletion, global conflict and mass migration are all waiting backstage as our fight with corona-virus in New Zealand comes to an end. Globally, this whole thing was almost a dress rehearsal for the fight with climate change, and we fucked up. Already we’re seeing country’s get knee-deep back into fossil fuels, heavy industry, consumerism and once again ignoring the problem, leaving it or the next person to deal with. However, I think this ordeal has revealed the sheer amount of leaks in our ship to the general population, leaks that corona-virus exposed. For the first time in our lives we all got a glimpse at what life was like without the status quo. Those roads were a little more empty when we only drove out of necessity. Those skies were a little clearer when we stopped pumping waste into them. Those birds sang a little louder when they weren’t being drowned out. Those things that seemed important slowly became irrelevant as we all focused on what was really significant to us. Not our things, but the people close to us. I hope we can take the lessons we learnt and apply them to this next crop of challenges that are about to face human-kind. Living in our pre-COVID blissful ignorance is no longer an option. The flaws in our system have been revealed to us, it is now all of our job to recognise them and do something about it. Whether we act on these challenges or continue to live in this blissful ignorance is up to us. The state of our environment has always been declining but that blissful ignorance will never be as blissful, or as ignorant again.