The Centre of Gravity.
Pandemics have their own temporality. Behavioural contagion spreads rapidly: we do the impossible and unlearn the social habits of a lifetime in a few days. Although hard to imagine while still in its midst, the health crisis will eventually subside as confinement measures prevent the spread. Ultimately, however, the actions taken are a very individual thing – we are social distancing and isolating from one another, en masse.
Some are using the current crisis to reassess fundamental assumptions about the design of our towns and cities. Should we shun dense urban environments and promote private vehicles to reduce social contact? Such positions risk losing sight of the bigger climate crisis. Instead, the coronavirus crisis may be pointing us in a new direction – towards stronger, self-sufficient local neighbourhoods with more services within shorter distances.
Our sense of security and continuity has become more centred on where we live. This sense of place and community is where we will draw from, in facing up to the challenge of climate change. Ultimately, climate action is not an individual thing but collective. It’s not simply household recycling or flying less: it’s a bigger community commitment, where we live, for as long as it takes.