An echo from the original ‘Letter from America’

This article is dedicated to my muse, the late Alistair Cooke, whose broadcasts from the USA, from 1946 to 2004, provided insights into the soul of America.

It is becoming very clear to me that the changes forced upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic have focused the lens of history on the acceleration of climate change. The accelerated development of industry, commensurate with the demands for food, water and energy by an exploding global population, is not sustainable.

If one were to imagine Mother Earth as a sentient being, ‘she’ would have been screaming at us to eliminate our contributions to climate change before it is too late and we destroy our terrestrial home. Then, when we did not listen, ‘she’ would have unleashed wildfires, hurricanes, torrential rain, melting icecaps and a deadly pandemic.

In California, we are experiencing historic high temperatures and dramatic low levels of water in lakes and reservoirs, while large swathes of forest, and even entire towns, are being destroyed by wildfires. Hurricanes are forming in the Gulf of Mexico and creating a path of death and destruction all the way to New England. Glaciers are melting in the Arctic and the Antarctic, permafrost is disappearing in Siberia and climate aberrations are occurring worldwide.

To add to this misery, the world is experiencing a deadly new virus, COVID-19. At the time of writing this article, 219 million cases have been documented with 4.55 million deaths due to the COVID-19 virus.

This virus continues to mutate and the anti-vaccination sceptics continue to resist participation.

Many countries, especially the developing countries, are sadly deficient in supplies of the vaccine. Enough doses have now been administered to fully vaccinate 35.4% of the global population, but the distribution has been lopsided. For example, over 143 million doses have been received in Africa in total and 39 million people, around just 3% of Africa’s population, are fully vaccinated. In comparison, 52% of people are fully vaccinated in the USA and 57% in the European Union.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa, was quoted as saying: “The inequity is deeply disturbing. Just 2% of the over five billion doses given globally have been administered in Africa. Yet recent rises in vaccine shipments and commitments shows that a fairer, more just global distribution of vaccines looks possible.”

The combination of these many degrees of misery that we have imposed upon ourselves reflects the unwillingness of our generation, and those which preceded us, to acknowledge and ameliorate the causes of the present conditions. My generation has failed our children, their children and future generations.

While we may not have been a direct causal agent of COVID-19, it is altogether possible that it is Mother Nature’s reaction to our lack of respect for our planet. The least we can do to contribute to the salvation of Mother Earth is to pursue all possible mitigating processes in an attempt to achieve harmony.

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