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Hospo resilience: pairing covid response and climate action

Written By: - Date published: 6:05 am, September 8th, 2021 - 13 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster - Tags: , ,

I’ve been holding off on writing anything too heavy in the past few weeks, because it seemed like we’ve all had enough going on. But then I started watching the bigger picture flow of news and heard in passing today about the cost of flood damage from recent storms up North. The clean up happening while trying to contain an outbreak of a very contagious disease and process the intensity of a terrorist attack. Kia kaha Aucklanders.

That right there is the way the world is now. We won’t have covid outbreaks and supermarket knife attacks every week, but we’re past the time of those being rare events, and we’re in the time of synchronous and overlapping crises. Being able to manage the continuous heavy is one of the areas where we need to upskill. We need proactive pathways that both mitigate and adapt, and we need to learn how to adapt and thrive under conditions we’re just not used to.

The latest New York floods, from US climate scientist ,

At this dystopian moment, I’m just not feeling it, and I don’t think I’m alone. I have many friends and colleagues who study extreme weather, in academia, government and the private sector. I think I can speak for many of us when I say we’re stunned.

The nonstop, compound environmental disasters of this summer alone — the fires, heat waves, droughts, floods and hurricanes — would probably have been enough to shock us. But they also come after a year and a half of a pandemic. Even worse, they come atop an ongoing crisis for our democracy that is preventing us, as a nation and a species, from effectively meeting any of these challenges.

But then,

I know this is an unhelpful attitude. And notwithstanding all the bad news, there is, simultaneously, tremendous positive momentum on climate. The President and a Democratic majority in Congress are taking the issue more seriously than ever before, and the infrastructure and budget reconciliation bills offer a potentially historic opportunity to make investments in clean energy, climate adaptation and climate justice that start to take the scale of the problem seriously. The youth climate movement is energized and inspiring. Flat-out climate denial is waning.

In the big picture, the climate problem is, in principle, solvable. With existing technology and resources, and sufficient collective effort and political will, we, the human species, have what it takes to modify our energy system to minimize future warming and adapt to protect those most vulnerable from what can’t be prevented.

Solving the climate problem requires not just trust in science, but shared values and a will to collective action for the common good. These are all in short supply. That scares me, way more than the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does.

There’s no benefit in giving in to “doomism,” either about climate, per se, or politics. The only rational response is to do what we can do, within the boundaries our individual and collective circumstances impose upon us, to make positive change.

Speak out, organize, give money, vote.

Let’s all get to it, however we can.

My feeling here is that New Zealand has the potential to be world leading, not even so much on conventional governmental climate action (although how gratifying would it be if we managed that), but because of our team of five million approach to the pandemic. We have the shared values and collective will, and  have been extraordinarily fortunate to have Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister through these years. That model of cooperative action is an export the world desperately needs.

On the debate about Delta Level Two and ongoing restrictions affecting the hospitality sector. Eighteen months into our covid repsonse, it’s time we started adapting for the long haul. We need to create sectors that can not only survive this pandemic, but the next and the other synchronous crisis, instead of hanging on for some mythical return to normal. One of the keys to that is positive adaptation.

It’s a small example, but it’s the leading edge of how to use crisis as opportunity, and to solve multiple problems in ways that enhance rather than simply mitigate.

Here it’s pairing covid response with the much needed climate action shift away from personal car use. Add tree planting to that vision and the multiple benefits include increased biodiversity, micro climate cooling, and increased well-being from having nature in our immediate environment. Now is also the time to be planning a lot more outside green spaces, everywhere, and rethinking cities as infilled and crowded.

So, Wellington City Council, have the meeting with hospo people about covid, but make sure that the rewilding, permaculture, and car-free movement bods are in the same room.

As always, if you want more on what is working and what helps, use these tags:


How Change Happens

The Powerdown


13 comments on “Hospo resilience: pairing covid response and climate action ”

  1. kejo 1

    The most effective response to climate change that I have seen (ever) is the Rodger Hallam, Gail Bradbrook, George Monboit, Extinction Rebellion Movement in the U.K. Google any of those 4 names on youtube and get an idea of the size and reach of this fast growing movement that embraces a philosophical, community and activist,nonviolent approach. Regards, Keith

    • weka 1.1

      Yep. I originally did a long quote from this piece from Hallam about social change, but took it out as it was confusing my point. It’s a different post.

      • weka 1.1.1

        XR UK was phenomenally successful in its first few years. I’m not so sure if it’s as successful now.

        • kejo

          But the best effort ever at making a dent in a deeply entrenched and destructive global system.More power to their arm. I,ll watch the movie.

  2. Gezza 2

    A good read. This planet's a huge life-producing organism. It's 4 billion year history shows it's capable of producing new & different life after multiple global catastrophes. It almost seems like Gaia, with the pandemic, is showing that if the most destructive animal ever to walk & sail its surface can’t stop damaging everything & every other life form, it just might eliminate the human ape & start again.

    • bwaghorn 2.1

      Do you really believe that gaia stuff you just wrote.?

      • Gezza 2.1.1

        Well, I was using a bit of artistic licence referring to "Gaia". I don't believe the planet's a thinking entity.

        But we are inclined to think of ourselves as particularly special because of what our brains have enabled us collectively to do as a species.

        At the same time, looked at dispassionately, we are an ape, & a large animal that monopolises earth's resources, wipes out other life forms & their habitats (take your average city), & kills each other over primitive animalistic drives & complex abstract concepts like religions, ideology, politics.

        There are always people who are good, who always strive for the best for humanity. But look around the world. The totalitarian regimes, the killings always going on in various countries, even those caused by "liberal democracies" who interfere with other human ape cultures. Human history is a mixture of scientific advancement & endless wars somewhere on the planet.

        If we humans disappeared from earth for whatever reason there's every reason to believe the planet would soon enough achieve equalibrium of some kind & evolution would quite possibly eventually produce another "intelligent" species. Whether they'd be the same kind of creature with flaws who knows.

        I don't mean to sound negative. It's just how I occasionally look at we humans objectively.

        • bwaghorn

          Not much to disagree with there unfortunately, crazy check complete , passed with flying colours

  3. Robert Guyton 3

    Have you heard about the "Matthew Effect"?

    The antivaxxers, with their mad mistrust of the Government, endanger us all; not (only) because they won't get vaccinated, but because they undermine the level of trust needed to address non-vac issues, such as climate change.


    "The Matthew effect

    "Social scientists say the questions of social and political trust – how to get it, how to keep it, how it’s lost or maintained – can have crucial implications. People with higher levels of trust in government are far more willing to receive a vaccine, for example, Chapple says. But the implications also extend far beyond Covid.

    “For any significant policy change, you typically need a significant community consensus that crosses political boundaries,” he says. Other huge challenges, such as the climate crisis, will require revolutions in behaviour. When people don’t trust their leaders, their institutions or each other, it’s much harder for them to solve the social problems that require huge collective action.

    “There’s a version in the data of what social scientists call the Matthew effect,” Chapple says, referring to a passage in the gospel of Matthew: “‘To he that hath, shall be given.’ So high-trust institutions, trust in them increased. But low-trust institutions banged along at the same level, or fell slightly – there’s an increasing gap.’’ The same can apply to whole governments: it’s much easier to lose trust than to gain it, and easier to increase trust when you’re already well perceived."

  4. Stephen D 4

    When it comes to climate or catastrophe, this always gives me hope about our planet.

  5. gsays 5

    One change in hospo I would like to see is a move to fewer menu items, executed to a higher standard. A little more specializing.

    A shift from the fish, the beef, the pasta, the vegetarian, the lamb etc etc.

    A greater proportion of local seasonal ingredients. Less of this importing fries from The States or Europe.

    Use local growers and add value in-house. This cuts out diesel miles, foreign owned 'middle men' (Bidvest) and keeps money in the local economy.

  6. AB 6

    "Solving the climate problem requires not just trust in science, but shared values and a will to collective action for the common good. These are all in short supply"

    I'm not sure they're in short supply among ordinary people – as the overwhelming support for our Covid response shows. However, the ideology buried in that statement (collective action, common good) is a direct challenge to the holders of economic power and in reality to everyone who has done well financially out of the status quo ante. Such people might argue that the solution to the climate problem requires further freeing of markets so that salvational technologies can be given the freedom to burst forth, etc. etc.

    Many of the obstacles are therefore political/ideological. And just as we saw many people willing to give up the collective effort against Covid and revert to an individualised "living with the virus", I think we will also see a movement towards "living with climate change" and letting the cards fall where they may.

  7. When I was younger the idea of revolution, a complete transformation of politics and society, seemed rebellious and cool; now that I am older, and more mature, I think a total revolution is necessary if we simply want to go on living at all.

    Manifest Destiny • Ill Will

    The story left an impression on me, because it contains nearly everything you need to know about modernity in four and a half minutes of film. The destruction of life, pleasure, beauty, affection, joy, sunrise, sunset, food, breath, in exchange for a car, a salary, and lung cancer — in a word: the economy.

    After five centuries there are still places on which such Western ‘care’ has not been imposed. Forests are burning, rivers are overflowing, wars are multiplying, depression is rampant, but somewhere, progress has not yet arrived. Let's bring it there quickly, before the show is over.

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