Before the advent of the pandemic and subsequent Great Quietness of the Lockdown - just four weeks ago but in a different world - we were engaged in a worldwide debate about environmental change and impending ecological crisis. Now many of us are wondering whether these extraordinary recent experiences during which we have marvelled at the beauty of spring unfolding outside our windows day by day- these seismic experiences might influence us to find a wider and preferably an implacable conviction that we need a BIG and renewed commitment to real, lasting sustainability in all aspects of our lives, if we are to save the Earth.
Several important people in my life have been afflicted with cancer and whilst each cancer and each response is unique, I have noticed a magic thread running through their extreme and awful journeys; somewhere along the way they each reached a powerful conviction that whatever their clinical outcomes, they were never going to 'go back to normal'.
Cancer seems to be such a dreadful shock to the physical and psychological self that real change comes about, because as a friend put it, "The old normal was what gave me cancer, so I am now going forward in a new and better way, making deep changes to the way I live, in the realisation that, win or lose, I want to live a wiser more deeply satisfactory life: a sustainable life."
Might there be a parallel? Is it possible that this pandemic, this frightening virus, these isolated circumstances - and the healing power of the natural world - might combine to shock us into an awakening that we could insist on moving politics forward to create sustainable life systems?
Speaking for myself, it's shockingly clear, 4 weeks into lockdown, that happiness is dependant on family, friends, health, a very simple life and the knowledge that I live in a supportive community which is a part of a decent society. More than that seems unnecessary, foolish, unsustainable and dispensable.
What insights arise in these strange days? What changes might we make?
Again, speaking personally, it seems that family friends, and home and garden feel even more vital and central to human happiness now. I want a simpler more convivial life with less travel for work (hooray for meetings onscreen!) And also less emphasis on foreign holidays- more exploring in the UK - because it is soooo lovely, and varied, and eccentric and there is so much to discover- on a bike? On foot?
The resourceful cheery dependability of local shops and services deserves my faithful continuous support- I want to shop locally and seasonally as much as I can because I want to support responsible food production- and for more of that food to come from local producers.
The fields I walk through every day remind me how urgently we need to look after our magnificent landscape - I really long for new sensible plans to support rural communities and our incomparable landscape.
And finally I always have and always will feel a passionate commitment to British Industry: but even more so during this current emergency- let's bring it back, and make lots of things here! Because if we still had a clothes industry, then we could readily step up production of for example, protective workwear for health workers.
It feels as if these sentiments of this kind might be shared with many other people: but whatever the agenda, now is the time for us all to join in a big national conversation about living sustainably to save our world.
All of these changes I've written about here feel personally right, compelling, and deeply important for my health, happiness and self-respect. This deeply affecting pause in my old normal life has shown me that to be happy I need and want to focus less on a Standard of Living, and more on Quality of Life: I want to move forward into change, rather than sliding back into my old life.
Moreover, these are the very same changes which would potentially cut my carbon consumption, making my life much more sustainable in every way.
I want to help to save the Earth.