A Brave New World

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A Brave New World

Howdy, all. So right after I last posted an update in February, life as we know it changed. It has been just over 4 months since then, but it may as well be 4 (or 40) years. The virus epidemic has changed society globally in the short term, in ways that perhaps only World Wars did during the 20th century. Whether these changes last, or whether there will be some other “normal” on the other side is anyone’s guess.

With economies shut down for 2 months and then just recently on the verge, are there any silver linings to this crisis? I will mention a couple, since looking just at the negatives has never helped anyone.

1.People getting to spend time with their family and loved ones. I wouldn’t say our family never eats dinner together otherwise… but certainly during these last couple months, it has been much more natural. Fewer distractions, fewer stresses about tomorrow, etc.

2. Telework. I was never an office person, or as my boss once graciously said: “Messy people are smarter.” (I wish) My previous job allowed a lot of flexibility between site visits, office work, and working from home. But for many people, this option is new and in some ways, the Holy Grail of flexible work-life arrangements. At the same time, many are also recognizing the isolating nature of ALWAYS working from home. Being around other people, other adults, is nice to some degree, just like working from home is nice in moderation.

3. And last, the environmental benefits. I was watching CNBC in late March, when California was 1st shut down. They showed images of the main highway into downtown Los Angeles, during rush hour…as driveable real estate with cars going 50-60 mph. Same with Times Square in New York and limited pedestrian traffic. These meccas of congestion transformed, for a short period, into spaces like the rest of America.

In 2014, I did a short presentation at the University of Toledo’s College of Business on U.S. energy consumption in the building sector. Afterwards, someone had an excellent comment.? One of the most energy efficient, environmentally beneficial periods in recent history took place during the Global Financial Crisis of 2018-2019. When everyone was losing their jobs, when global GDPs were at record lows, when businesses were going bust left and right, the Earth was thriving with a noticeable dip in GG emissions. And I expect, when we look back at these last couple of months with proper historical focus, we will see a similar drop.

I call this last the Broken Lightbulb phenomenon, and I will explain in a future post.

Stay safe out there, and wear your masks.