A Call to Action: Here is How to Create A Better Post COVID-19 World
We have entered the age of cascading natural disasters. These disruptions are defining our future. Scientists tell us more killer pandemics lay ahead. As do more mega droughts and extreme weather events that will cause massive floods, polar vortexes, unprecedented winds with immense fires and interminable power shutdowns. Most of the nation’s political leaders remain too enthralled by the economic and political thinking of the past to take the actions required. If we hope to create a brighter future for our kids, it is now clear that the people must act with fervor, take to the streets even, to force leaders to take dramatic action.
Roots of Change is reframing all current projects to deliver one vital thing: models of action that build community-based resilience. This means working with community members to demand processes, plans, projects that include specific recommendations for new and expanded resilience-building policies by governments at all levels. We must become bolder to be heard.
Here is what they must hear: leaders must rally public agencies, the nation’s businesses and nonprofits to launch a two-pronged revitalization strategy. The first prong must intensify solving the underlying cause of our multiple and simultaneous crises: destruction of the natural environment and its overarching symptom, which is global warming. California is well positioned to expand existing programs that do help end the destruction. The Healthy Soils, Sustainable Agriculture Lands Conservation, Alternative Manure Management and the CalRecycle Organic Waste Reduction programs are prime examples of how to address root causes while building local resilience.
The second prong must seek to increase the physical resilience of every person and every local community. Resilience is the ability to fully recover from a major disruption. This prong is required because the pandemic has shown that federal and even state responses are often insufficient to the crises we face. And as the pandemics and extreme weather events become more frequent and simultaneous, societal collapse becomes a possibility. Here is Sonoma County where I live, there is palpable and much discussed concern about ongoing shelter in place orders if wildfires rage all around us this fall as they have in the last two of three years. To avoid this worst-case scenario, each community must optimize its ability to respond to and rebound from dramatic disruptions.
The task of building personal and community resilience requires serious focus. At the community level this will mean huge investments in infrastructure, disaster preparedness, disease prevention and crisis response. Forward looking leaders must invest billions more to help every community enhance local or regional capacity in the following critical areas: diversified, fresh and processed food sources, including market and distribution infrastructure, these foods must be produced in climate smart and regenerative ways; renewable energy and safe water sources; robust emergency services fully capable of informing, evacuating and sheltering community members; improved internet access for all people, particularly in rural communities to ensure education and telemedicine can be delivered in crises; hospitals stocked with an array of medical and personal protective equipment and overflow bed capacity when needed; and robustly funded public health departments that maintain abundant reserves of testing kits for an array of diseases, masks and gloves to meet the needs of the people in their jurisdictions.
Such extensive resilience-enhancing investments will require new sources and the rechanneling of existing public revenue streams. It is time to tax sugary beverages and junk food to provide investments in greatly expanded nutrition and public health programs that prevent the diseases that are causing a disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths among those of low income, particularly people of color. It is time to end all subsidy of fossil fuel industry sectors and it is time to greatly increase taxes on toxic chemicals, carbon-based fuels, and other compounds and practices that are destroying our ecosystem. If high enough, taxes will change the economic activity underlying the problems and at the same time provide research, grant and loan funds needed to create the new green economy that will in time end the threats we face in the 21st century, threats that promise to destroy our nation and civilization as we know it if not addressed.
The time has come for all good people to demand of our leaders a change of course that will steer humanity in a new direction. We must ignite a world-war level campaign to reverse the cause of pandemics and global warming, which is the destruction of our natural world and at the same time vastly enhance community and personal resilience so that we improve lives despite what is sure to come in the years ahead.