Sunshine and warm weather undoubtedly cheer the spirits and gladden the heart; that ‘it’s great to be alive’ feeling, making everything seem alright within the world.
Gladdening the heart is sorely needed in 2020 as, to date, we have watched with horror as the Covid-19 virus has spread rapidly and stealthily around the world, infecting all those in its airborne path. Very tragically, the lives of far too many people have been, and still are being lost well before their time.
So good news stories and feel good factors are indeed to be welcomed. They’re light relief in a rather forlorn world.
Many of us enjoy a bit of sunshine and heat. And it’s all well and good in the right places and at the right time. But is that sunshine we’ve experienced, albeit superficially welcome, really such good news? Year on year, temperature-highs are being broken all over the world, and 2020 is no exception. Throughout Asia and Northern Europe temperatures of 10°c higher than the norm have so far been recorded in some regions. For the past 30 years the Arctic, one of the coldest areas on earth, has been warming at an unprecedented rate, faster than anywhere else in the world. Abnormally high temperatures have been consistently recorded in recent months. Indeed, in June, Verkhoyansk, a remote part of Siberia within the Arctic circle, reached record breaking temperatures of around 38°c.
The world is in the midst of not only a viral pandemic, but a climate and environmental crisis too, which similarly has to be taken seriously, can no longer be ignored, and must be acted upon immediately on a governmental and global level. Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic will seem a mere aperitif for what is to come, should countries not act decisively now. Melting permafrost in the Arctic, for example, is just one source from which viruses and bacteria will be subsequently released, with perhaps dire consequence.
The good news is that many people and organisations have been trying for a very long time to act appropriately, to live sustainably in our world, and to redress the balance of the climate emergency. They still are. And that’s great. It’s really important that individually, we all try to do as much as we possibly can. But it’s hard working on your own, it can be dispiriting, and achievements are obviously limited. We can achieve so much more if we work concertedly together, in solidarity with each other, in a bid to effect real change. Like in a pandemic. Like in Europe.
As 2020 has shown, via the pandemic and months of isolation in lockdown, we need each other. Isolation is tough. It’s hard going it alone as individuals. It’s going to be hard going if more alone as a country – and surely, if we have learned nothing else from Covid-19, it is precisely that it’s not great to be isolated and alone. Recent polls have shown that more people in the UK than ever now wish to remain in Europe. But we are where we are; the referendum has happened and the UK is now sailing its own course, through unchartered waters.
As with the Covid-19 pandemic and climate emergency, it’s imperative that we as individuals do the right things. We can all make a difference with our words and actions. But it’s even more incumbent upon our government and its ministers to speak, behave and act wisely on our behalf; in the pandemic; for the climate and environmental emergency; and in all negotiations with our European friends and neighbours. It’s imperative that they lead by good example.
The UK needs good relations and as close ties as possible with Europe now, perhaps more than ever. Working together positively we can achieve so much more for the climate, the environment, for each and every one of us.
Gladdening the heart is sorely needed in 2020. Let’s hope that by the end of this pivotal year we do indeed have truly welcome good news stories to relate.