Taking action during a global pandemic and beyond
There’s no going back to normal after COVID-19, and most people realize this. It can be reassuring to know that most people feel this way, so the task now is defining what kind of world we want to live in and fighting for it. I want to take action and seize this opportunity to work with others towards real change, but how? And what will collective action look like post covid-19?
The first step for me has been to realize the importance and necessity of remaining informed during these times. Just because most of us have been staying home doesn’t mean the climate crisis has ended, or that the world is short of injustices. This much is clear: Canada is buying into disaster capitalism through deeming pipeline work an essential service– putting lives at risk of COVID-19 infection, and rolling back environmental regulation. It’s hard to keep up with Alberta so here’s their latest proposed bill to parry environmental safeguards. Attacks on environmental protection in Canada range from the cancellation of wildlife monitoring to delays on emissions reporting and expanding the logging of old growth forests. Remember Coastal GasLink and the RCMP trespassing on Wet’suwet’en territory? CGL has now received a bailout from Export Development Canada and is set to open a 900 person work camp come summer. The end isn’t even in sight as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is working overtime to take advantage of the pandemic in lobbying the government with demands including suspending environmental monitoring and delaying legislation on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). I know this is the kind of thing CAPP does 24/7, but this is particularly reprehensible during these times. Industry is actively using the fact that we are distracted by this global pandemic to further its agenda and deepen its pockets.
I also can’t omit what’s happening right now with the long-overdue and widespread actions supporting the Black Lives Matter movement as working towards climate justice demands working on being anti-racist as well. You can read more on this here, and here.
One note to add: It is both okay and in fact recommended to limit your news consumption for your mental health! If you’re looking for environment-specific updates, email lists are available through sources including the New Yorker, the Guardian and the New York Times.
Once armed with some knowledge, and not too overwhelmed to act, I feel activated to do something. A great place to start is at home/ in one’s community– care mongering groups have popped up in many cities and while the first shock wave of the pandemic has passed mutual aid is still needed. Getting involved helping neighbours with groceries, aiding local rent strike campaigns, supporting local BLM organizers and actions are all important and play a role in creating a society that values reciprocity and collective action.
While corporations and governments are making the most of the fact that we can’t take to the streets in safety or organize in person events the same way as before covid-19, there are numerous ways of taking action online. Signing petitions , joining online campaigns like Fridays for Future’s Digital Strike and 350.org’s Principles for a Just Recovery are great ways of acting from home. Responding to what action is or isn’t being taken, and demanding more from lawmakers is essential, and can be done by writing letters, calling, or tweeting at politicians. Now is the time to be voicing what we want to see in a recovery plan. Different organizations have been weathering this period of physical distancing by hosting mass strategy calls, webinars,teach-ins, and online retreats that are open for anyone to join.
While we see social distancing measures begin to lift and businesses start to open, the future of group gatherings remains uncertain. Everyday activities won’t fully resume until a vaccine is widespread, which will take at least another few months. Even then, the effects of habitat fragmentation and climate breakdown mean we may continue facing disease outbreaks on a global scale in the coming years. This further affirms the need to organize to combat the climate crisis, but also begs the question: do we need to be thinking about a future where collective action continues to take place primarily online? If this is the case, I take consolation in the great number of events taking place on the Internet today (I now often find myself signed up for conflicting Zoom events!)
The way people are organizing, sharing information, and collaborating despite all the impediments due to the coronavirus is a true testament to the strength, people-power, and motivation that will allow us to create a better future for the world. How will you get involved in shaping it?