Silver – Lining
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Image showing the difference in emissions over Paris – March 2019 and March 2020
Nitrogen dioxide emissions over China
Paul Monks, professor of air pollution at the University of Leicester predicts:
“What I think will come out of this is a realization because we are forced to, that there is considerable potential to change working practices and lifestyles. This challenges us in the future to think, if we really need to undertake certain activities”
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This year has been incredibly difficult for many, but as with everything in life, where there’s darkness there always comes light. Amongst the chaos and uncertainty there have been exceptional acts of humanity, moments of unimaginable bravery shown by those on the front line, reports of lower emissions, more time dedicated to those we love and care for, celebrities filling our days with wacky videos and emotional outpours from world leaders.
What does this mean for the future?
We have seen a huge reduction in the use of public transport, it has become apparent that a significant proportion of jobs can be done effectively from home and this could really change what the future of corporate work will look like.
We have seen many meetings being managed by video conferencing, and many employees continuing to work just as effectively from home as they were able to in the office. With this in mind, many companies may choose to continue to give employees the option to work from home part or even full time, and this could have hugely positive implications for the employability of physically disabled people going forward, and financially benefit both companies and employees. We could see large corporate organisations spending less on their office spaces as 100% of their workforce won’t need to be accommodated for and employees potentially saving thousands a year on their commutes, as well as people’s job searches not being limited by proximity to companies, potentially being able to take on jobs for companies based in other jurisdictions.
With global travel brought to almost a complete standstill throughout lockdown, and domestic travel being reduced significantly for most of the year, the impact on the environment has been staggering.
There are reports globally of lower levels of air pollution, with 2020 on track to set the record for the biggest drop in C02 emissions in history. This was a much needed break for Mother Nature, with many scientists, the European Union and even NASA having warned us long before the pandemic that we are running out of time to change our habits before climate change and the damage we have caused to the planet is irreversible. With this in mind it’s hopeful that people will continue to be more conscious of their carbon footprint, and continue with good habits when the pandemic is under control and life can go back to normal.
Some great news with regards to the virus itself, it seems there is a vaccine on the horizon. American pharma giants Pfizer and Moderna, as well as Oxford university have developed extremely promising vaccinations which could be up to 90% effective at protecting people from contracting Covid. The vaccines all still require more intensive testing before deemed safe to roll out to the public, but it brings us one step closer to returning to normality, and is a light at the end of the tunnel for us all.
We have seen heartwarming acts from many celebrities and big companies during the pandemic. Dolly Parton donated £1m towards research for a vaccine, while Ryan Reynolds and wife Blake Lively donated £1m to Feeding America and Food Banks Canada, to help those in poverty. Lady Gaga, alongside the group Global Citizen raised over £28m for the World Health organisation by organising a concert to recognise health workers hard work and dedication on the front line of the fight against the virus. The concert aired in April and featured the stars such as Elton John, Billie Eilish and Stevie Wonder.
B&M, one of England’s fastest growing variety retailers, has already managed to repay the British government the £3.7m they borrowed in furlough costs, and Kurt Geiger, the luxury British shoe and accessories brand, launched a tote bag and T shirt collection branded ‘we are one’ to raise a million pounds for the NHS.
We have seen equally impressive and heartwarming acts from many members of the public. Earlier on in the year in the peak of the first spike, the country came together every Thursday to clap for our NHS and show our respects to those risking their health in the frontline every day. Many people started fundraisers in their community to raise money for the NHS or a charity of their choice with so much extra time on their hands, one particularly memorable effort was from 99 year old veteran Tom Moore, who raised an astonishing £32 Million for the NHS by walking laps around his back garden. Captain Moore is due to be knighted for his incredible efforts, and brought a tear to many eyes around the country. Joe Jordan-Richardson, 28 from Torfaen in Wales cycled nearly 1000 miles from Newport to Berlin in just 14 days to raise money for the charity Mind. Having struggled with mental health himself in the past, Mind was an easy choice for Mr Richardson but it also seemed a very apt charity to have chosen given the circumstances this year, and he raised over £2000.
Despite the coronavirus, some exciting plans managed to go ahead this year, for example SpaceX’s first commercial rocket to be launched into space in May. The rocket was the first commercial vessel to carry crew into orbit, marking a new age of space travel.
It’s been a difficult year for many, and a very strange one for us all, but there are plenty of positives to be found. Amongst the heart warming stories and big donations that made the news, many of us will have felt the silver linings of the pandemic closer to home. Lockdown and working from home means we got to spend time with loved ones we may never have gotten to otherwise, especially significant for those with older relatives and young children at home. In the absence of friends we have made more effort to keep in touch, our weekly video catch ups have felt more significant and special knowing we can’t hug each other, and it’s really brought to light the important things in life for many. We were all given the gift of time, to get some of those jobs around the house and life admin bits done, which we could never quite squeeze into our previously busy lives, and many people have used this time to work hard on themselves, whether that be physically or mentally, and spend some time getting to know themselves and explore their creative sides, some even starting new businesses. 2020 is nearly over, and we are all hoping for a brighter 2021, but it would be a shame to move forward without taking the lessons we have all learnt in this difficult year. Be kind, check in on each other, take good care of yourself and treasure those close to you.