There have been many stark images from around the world that will be used in future decades to illustrate what we’re all going through right now.
Hospital staff kitted up in protective gear, rows of coffins being loaded into mass graves, empty supermarket shelves to name some obvious ones, but some more recent ones which are just starting to gain attention are the panoramic views of cities around the world as they appeared before the C 19 pandemic, and then a few weeks after the global lockdown.
The difference is stark and, in many ways, positive. If anything, it is one of the very few positive things to come out of this horror show.
The air is so much cleaner all over the world, everyone who lives in a city, from the richest billionaire in their air conditioned penthouse apartments to the poorest soul living in a cardboard box can sense this.
We are witnessing an example of what the world we live in could be like if we didn’t burn as much stuff.
Beijing, Delhi, Los Angeles, Sau Paulo, London, Bangkok, Bogota. The story is the same, people are noticing how different the air is, how much further they can see.
We are all experiencing a massive improvement in air quality even if everything else is a fearful and restrictive.
And my point is, that this new, clean state of affairs is possible to achieve when there isn’t a pandemic killing thousands of people every day.
I am not taking much solace from this as, like the virus, it is a passing improvement.
Come what may, Covid 19 will eventually become a chapter, albeit a very big chapter in human history, but it will be history.
We will, I’m sadly confident, return to the way we’ve lived for the past 50 years. Billions of internal combustion engines, dormant for months, will splutter into life once more.
Billions of gallons of fossil fuel will be burned in cars, taxis, vans, buses and trucks as our economic system grinds into gear again.
I know flights and shipping are also likely to increase again, but here I’m talking very specifically about local area pollution, about toxic gases being released in the middle of big cities.
There are reports coming out that the air quality we are experiencing now has not been seen in nearly 100 years. It’s an incredible improvement. We will see an actual decrease in deaths caused by local area air quality, which regularly kills tens of thousands a year, and that’s seen as acceptable.
Really? By who?
If we put enough pressure on manufacturers, if we complain to our political leaders that this is simply not good enough. If we continue to try to educate people that there are alternatives, that we can run a cleaner system, that we can reclaim our city streets for human beings without ‘destroying the economy’ then we should.
A recent and very good example of this is the ‘Nocado’ campaign that’s taken place in Archway, North London, in fact in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency.
Ocado, a huge grocery delivery company in the UK, have applied for planning permission to build a huge distribution centre in the borough. It will bring jobs, it will increase the speed and spread of home deliveries.
What’s not to love?
Well, in this particular instance the distribution centre just happens to back onto a primary school. Literally a couple of meters from a school playground, Ocado are proposing a road and loading area that will see hundreds of diesel vans queuing up every day to take on their delivery trays.
With the engines ticking over, pumping out toxic particulates which stay low to the ground, at about child height. How mind numbingly dumb, blinkered, stupid even are the people who suggested this? I have met and interviewed one of the founders of Ocado, a charming man who drives an electric car for pities sake.
He, or his colleagues hired well educated and well paid people who think it is a perfectly reasonable idea to have hundreds of diesel delivery vans driving very slowly past a kids playground.
Thankfully, stroppy North London parents kicked off, as did the kids, not surprisingly and they managed to get quite a lot of attention and obviously the bad publicity for a very PR conscious brand was a bit uncomfortable.
Now Ocado are saying that they can use electric vans at the site…. To which I can only respond with….. duuuuuur.
There are perfectly useable alternatives to filthy diesel vans already in use and there are amazing new models arriving this year.
If you’re interested check out the recent podcast I made with Sam Clarke from Gnewt Cargo, 100% electric vans delivering all over London, saving literally hundreds of thousands of pounds a year on fuel costs.
So we should try to use the example that has emerged out of the chaos of the current situation as an example of what could be. We need to make it harder and harder for the vehicle manufacturers, the oil and coal industry and their kowtowing lackeys in our governments to con us with their ‘clean diesel’ lies, their ‘hydrogen is the future’ delaying tactics, their ‘self-charging hybrid’ con jobs and all the other increasingly desperate and annoying tactics they are trying to foist on us to delay the demised of their precious combustion engines.