Flattening the Curve is where we are at in Ireland with the coronavirus Covid19 pandemic. The plan is to stagger the spread of the virus. If we all catch it now our health service will be inundated in a short period of time and more people will die. We don’t have enough ventilators and don’t have the Intensive Care capacity for hundreds of critical cases. Hospitals could cope with a steady flow of patients but not a big peak. If we spread out the infection it will last longer but we won’t have as many fatalities. Thankfully we have excellent medical professionals in Ireland who have ensured that message is delivered and heeded by government.
The consequences of Covid19 are immediate and obvious so any politician would be a fool to ignore it, or undermine the medical advice. The politicians may play the “Knight in shining armour” roles but don’t be conned into thinking they are great leaders through this. Remember they have not prioritised the health service for years. They have been favouring a two tiered system with more and more people being driven to take out private health insurance. They have just lifted a recruitment ban after denying it existed for years. Underinvestment in the health system with layers and layers of middle management means we have a very disjointed establishment being thrown a pandemic. We had better flatten that curve, fast.
Now we have a situation where the “leaders” don’t want to make the tough calls. They don’t want to close the pubs, bars, clubs and I’m sure they are well lobbied not to. They are asking people to act responsibly and keep at least a metre distance away from each other. There was a time I believed that people would do the right thing once the logic was explained to them but over time I’ve learned that is not the case. People don’t like change for the most part but hate inconvenient change. In those circumstances there needs to be leadership. For example compulsory child car seats, the smoking ban, no drinking and driving are all changes you would think people would embrace. However, we needed legislation to force many people to take these steps to protect themselves and others. This is not the time to put the onus on the individual and concede to economic lobby groups. The medics are advising and the government must listen and act accordingly.
It draws comparisons for me. I know from years of climate activism and policy that science gets muted by politicians if it appears that heeding it may upset the neoliberal economy. Vested interests spend millions discrediting climate science and influencing government policy. Politicians want to remain popular and continue to prop up the economy with fossil fuel money rather than make the tough changes necessary. It’s hard to deny the Covid19 science because people are dying in droves across the world including Ireland and we have growing numbers of people infected here. It is tangible.
Global warming science is being dismissed continuously and the emissions curve we need to flatten and squash continues to rise. The fact is that the people it will affect most are too far away or too young to be the majority in government. Our “leaders” do not have the guts to lead. We need people running the country that care about the people and planet more than the profit whether that be Covid19 or our ecosystem.
Yes – it always comes back to climate change for me! It is system change we need.
March 15th 2020