I guess people have written longer, more detailed articles about the topic of this post already (I should link some here, maybe later, you can easily find them though). But seriously, if all this turmoil and shit is a result of a single pandemic, what are we gonna do when climate change disasters actually hit?
Let me clarify that I’m not even downplaying the COVID-19 / coronavirus pandemic here – it is a disaster in its own right on many levels. No need to go into more depth about this, it’s self-evident. Yet, this disaster is dwarfed in comparison to climate change and its anticipated disasters! Here’s why: [ ••• ] Coronavirus: first ring of hell
I find it interesting to consider the question of agency when we think of the Coronavirus.
To begin with, humans tend to assign a certain degree of free-will to things, even inanimate objects. Chemists specifically love to do that all the time! We talk about the needs and wants of molecules, as if they are willingly choosing to behave the way they do.
For simple things, it‘s easy to bring to mind the forces which actually result in the observed behavior – things fall due to gravity, not because they have an innate desire to be closer to earth. Now, with something complex enough like a virus (which on the scale of life may be argued to be the simplest life-form), it’s much easier to think of it as an independent agent that is self-interested in annihilating us so it reproduces.
But it’s just a bit of floating genetic code that fools the body of a host so it assembles more of that code. And unlike bacteria, the virus doesn’t even attack, eat, or reproduce. It just hits a cell in the right way, and the cell mindlessly starts making copies of it. In a sense, it’s a coding error that just happens to be self-replicating.
“I knew this was bound to happen at some point, so I guess it’s okay!“
I missed the last bus, and I am a long way from home. After all these years, I still refuse to realize that cleaning up after running experiments is actually a consuming and demanding task. It is a conflict though, it’s as if the absolute priority is discovering something ASAP and if I don’t then I’m not doing well. The reality is, (like life) it is a process. Which also often involves failed experiments followed by spending 2 hours of careful separating of waste, washing glassware several times with different solvents, and trying not to break overly expensive (and fragile) equipment while hastily trying to clean carefully!
After walking in the cold for a while to another bus stop, I see I have more than an hour before the night bus comes. I wouldn’t want to stand in this cold night a full hour, and that nearby hotel (with its warm lights, luxurious exterior, and the distant noise of chatter and laughter) looks like a promising shelter.