Return to “Normal” (10)

What do we want “normal” to be when our society is stabilized after the pandemic has passed? How will we treat each other differently, ask just who our institutions serve, and how will we source and use “energy”?

The following “look forward” been composed by Emily Eaton.

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The day after there will be a transition to a new normal. Economies that were fundamentally extractive, linear, and based on theft will be transformed. We will dislodge the power and interests that profit from the extraction and theft inherent in our pre-COVID carbon economies and rebuild ourselves based on reciprocity: caring for one another, both human and non-human.

This transition will be three-dimensional working towards decolonization, democratization and decarbonization.

1) Decolonization will not be understood as a metaphor. It will mean, quite literally, returning land, jurisdiction, and environmental decision-making to Indigenous Nations and communities. We will start with ‘crown lands’ and move on to consider how to return private property. We will manage the commons as if our children’s futures mattered.

2) Democratization will also require redistribution. We will wrestle our economies and our workplaces away from a small elite who are enriching themselves off of our labour and our environments. We will tax and redistribute their wealth, we will strengthen solidarity, cooperative, and socialized economies. We will recognize and value the labour of so many people who had been unpaid and poorly paid (women, undocumented workers, frontline service and care workers, racialized workers, and so on).

3) Decarbonization will be necessary to rescue a habitable world. Climate change is the next curve we will flatten. Supply chains, kin networks, and production will all become more local. Private sufficiency will be augmented by public luxury: fare-free, accessible public transit and low-carbon public amenities. Fossil fuel production will be phased out in a way that allows workers to stay in their communities and enjoy dignified lives.

The day after, when this transition begins, we will draw on the lessons we learned from caring for one another during the COVID-19 pandemic and we will recognize the need for a transformation in all three dimensions.

Emily Eaton is an associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Regina whose currently research focuses on the influence of the fossil fuels sector in Saskatchewan.

 

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