Summer Is Not Cancelled

It’s been amazing to see what this movement and nationwide uprising for racial justice have accomplished already, and I’ve welcomed the necessity of adjusting my own thinking about what is now possible. Without lapsing into undue optimism, I’m truly encouraged, and hope people of conscience all around the country are taking heart, finding courage, and committing to the long work ahead to move the US and the world towards a just, sane future.

I’m also taking heart from the evolving scientific consensus on COVID-19. Let’s keep wearing masks, practicing social distancing when necessary, observing basic hygiene best practices, and, perhaps most of all, keeping pressure on governments to get shit right when it comes to testing, tracing, isolation, and quarantine. We never should have been in this position, and – even with the ever-present threat of another pandemic – we need not ever be in it again.

About climate crisis, I don’t have any good news. The situation is bad, and – even with the pandemic-related slowdown of the global economy – getting rapidly worse. As we take stock of our lives and what the post-pandemic world will look like, we should all be committing to work towards achieving substantive, commensurate climate action at scale.

Finally, it felt good to ride the subway today, for the first time since early mid-March, and it was a sweet bonus that it was to attend a Juneteenth demo/celebration in Central Park at the site of the historic Seneca Village. (Just in the last year, the City and/or the Central Park Conservancy has belatedly installed a number of placards commemorating Seneca Village, a majority black settlement that was destroyed to make way for the construction of Central Park.) Even better, I came home and had a long phone conversation with a thoughtful, pragmatic friend about how we make progress on these big challenges of our times, and then was pleasantly surprised, in listening to the June 16th talk on climate crisis by Nouriel Roubini [paywalled], when Roubini digressed at length to encourage all his viewers to shift to a vegan or at least a vegetarian diet.

We have monumental work to do, but if the last six months have taught us anything, it’s that a lot can change in a hurry. Here’s to a better future, one big step at a time – to things changing rapidly, this time for the better instead of the worse – and to enjoying the summer in the meantime as we make progress towards racial justice, pandemic preparedness, and climate sanity all at once.

Postscript: Thanks to David Dayen for pointing, in his daily Unsanitized newsletter, to this interesting study on how “COVID-19 and Stabilization Policies Affect Spending and Employment”; key takeaway in my view was the following: “State-ordered reopenings of economies have little impact on local employment.” In short, reopening without addressing the pandemic does little to improve the economy, but does lead to disaster (as we’re witnessing in Arizona), and there is simply no substitute for the hard work of actually getting our pandemic house in order.

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