Environmental Ponderings-17

Lockdown, COVID-19 and Change

By the time you read this column, the pain of Lockdown and COVID-19 will, hopefully, have lessened. We still have to come back to some sense of normality, whatever that is. However, that normality will be different because of the changes that we have all had to make.

Human beings abhor change and often it is only some drastic event, occurrence or experience that will nudge folk to make any changes to their life, behaviour, perspectives or actions. So, has COVID-19 changed your life? Have you thought about whether this has been in a good or bad way? Have you learnt anything from your experiences? Have you taken responsibility to make any changes, rather than have them imposed upon you? Will you do anything different from now on?

Let me put forward some thoughts which may be controversial but need to be aired. We are living in a world that is overcrowded, resource pressurised and, for some, highly mobile. We have been watching a virus spread throughout the globe at a frightening rate, affecting millions and killing hundreds of thousands. It has also been reported extensively that there are very few places on earth that do not have evidence of human presence, activity, goods, or process.

We, as humans are beginning to overwhelm the Earth with our presence and our “baggage”. This has been noted for decades and evidence of the negative elements of human activity is beginning to pile up. (Please pardon the pun!) Climate change is an established fact. Whether you think it is caused by humans or not is not the point of discussion. The point is that climate change is affecting the way we live and negative effects of weather, extinction, pollution, etc. are worsening. Just like the effects of pandemics such as COVID-19 and TB are worsening over time. This has been highlighted by the decrease in pollution levels during the period of extensive global activity lockdowns.

Change is necessary.

Can you change anything to lessen your impact upon the environment?  Has the Lockdown made you think about your use of resources? Have you found that there are things that you can do without? Have you noticed that you don’t need so much “Stuff”? (Remember “the Story of Stuff” from 2007 on YouTube.com?) In fact, much has happened since the making of this first, ground-breaking, video and it is well worth looking at the videos that they have produced since 2007 to illustrate just what we are doing to this little space we live on called Earth.


This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

The journey of change begins with that one first small step.

Arend Hoogervorst is an environmental scientist with some 35 years of experience in South Africa in environmental management and sustainable development in local and central government, commerce and industry and private practice.

© Arend Hoogervorst, 2020.