Is COVID-19, an opportunity to reboot earth?

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M HAMID SIDDIQUE

FOR centuries, human beings have been suffering from self-made conflicts, wars and other disputes at the state and societal levels, not from any other specie but at the hands of their own fellow beings. First we kill our human fellows with brutal weapons then we devote a particular day for their remembrance. Strange! Isn’tit? Butthistime, humanity is being haunted and the earth is at war with an invisible enemy. Nations are fighting fortheir survival and states are getting slammed. Cities are getting locked down and citizens are being quarantined. World is in the midst of a turmoil and triumph is the only way out. This makes me wonder, is this a chance to bring New World Order, a rehearsal for future and the long awaited moment to reboot Earth? A few months ago, people rose in the morning and set off to work. Offices were functional, roads were busy, parks were crowded, schools were open, restaurants were full, planes flew across the skies and ships sailed across the oceans. People around the globe were busy with their normal activities. Contrarily, cities were being raided and extermination of millions Syrians,Yemenis, Palestinians and Iraqis was witnessed.Ambition to control natural resources corrupted states and the earth was being torn apart by manmade conflicts. World economy was trembling by trade wars and the very foundations of our livelihood were being eroded by insurgencies, terrorism and hegemony. This didn’t end here, as humans which barely encompass 0.01% of biomass, became a real threat to all life on Earth. Nearly, one million species were about to extinct due to industrial pollution. The abundance of earth’s native species fell by 20% and the interconnected web of life on Earth became increasingly frayed, so that the Earth became a terrible and pitiless place to live on.We even forgot that it is us, humans, who are fragile as Earth has survived much extinction before. So this makes me wonder, as if COVID-19 is one in a trillion opportunity for us to develop a future not resembling the past. I know it’s difficult to imagine light in the midst of this darkness, but trust me, we can and surely we will be the conquerors. With states spending more on human development and health sector rather wars and destruction, with increasing surveillance upon population indicators to deliver social services at door rather intelligence and conspiracies, with increased capacity to work remotely using virtual networks and decreased pollution, with increased investment in Science and Communication Technology rather weapons of mass destruction, with development of realtime and reliableinformation systems forimmediate and timely decision making, and with strong and effective inter-sectoral coordination among governing bodies, we can make out of this abyss and develop a better future. This can be a turning point to step up—to grow up—as a species. Perhaps then, we’ll be able to figure out ways to deal with rising sea levels and fiercer storms. Perhaps advances in science and new genetically engineered crops will allow us to continue to feed a growing population even as the world warms. Perhaps we’re the ones expected to make a difference this time. After all, I know it’s a dream, but a dream worth pursuing, for this planet, for ourselves, our future and the future of our children and grandchildren. —The writer is a visiting faculty in Quaid-iAzam University, Islamabad.