I was supposed to go see my family and friends on the 21st of March, but they live in Italy and the entire country is currently lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As you can easily guess, I gotta stay here, in London, and wait for it to be over. I could still potentially go, given that airplanes are still flying, but I don’t feel like doing it. It’s simple civic sense; in this moment we don’t need people breaking the rules, we only need unity and respect.
In the village where I grew up, the streets are empty at the moment. Everything is shut except for groceries, factories and offices; people are stuck inside their houses – they can leave only in case of urgent work situations, health problems or emergencies; pupils have been forbidden to go to school.
For those of you who are not directly dealing with this crisis, it may seem hard to picture, but this is the reality down there.
It’s scary, you know, especially if you can’t be there for the people you love; and it’s even scarier if you think that this sort of epidemics could become more and more common in the years to come.
Epidemics are part of the scenarios that climatologists have predicted for the future of the Earth. The world population will swell, we will mainly live in urban areas and we will be even more connected one to the other. If we’ll be able to travel to any side of the planet in a few hours, then also the new diseases will.
And there will be new diseases, as the permafrost – the frozen soil where bacteria and viruses disappeared thousands of years ago are hidden – will melt due to the rise of temperatures. Not to talk about the increase of people affected by malaria, dengue or salmonellosis that we’ll have in the warmer months.
Does it mean that the future of humanity is indoor? Hopefully not. I’m writing a dystopia inspired by the climate crisis, in which the world is so inhospitable that people are forced to live inside. Thinking that that could be real it’s frightening.
For sure these epidemics will shape our economy and our society, but we’re still in time to save humanity. If we look at things from a different point of view, we’ll see that thanks to the actions taken by governments to overcome the health crisis, the level of carbons in the air has decreased significantly. This inadvertently demonstrates how easy it could be to take radical emergency actions for climate and environment too.
In Italy, among the several affected countries, COVID-19 is giving a preview of what our life could look like in thirty, forty, fifty years from now. Are we sure this is how we want it to be?