Graduating in a world coping with COVID-19
Credit: LANCE DAGENAIS
Opinion: Students graduating into a pandemic will have their work cut out for them to make the world a better place.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it so that life has become unpredictable. The world after the pandemic will be weird. But what’s weirder is that I’m graduating at the end of this year. With a world full of uncertainty, things are looking off. Will we ever return to full normalcy? And what will that look like?
One of the first things I’d love to see in a “new” normal is how we actually stop climate change. Signs of climate change in this year alone are clear, considering the wildfires happening in Australia and in California. Obviously getting rid of this virus is priority number one but addressing climate change is also important.
It’s discouraging how even with the consequences of these fires, some of our leaders still fail to acknowledge it as a reality. I feel like the planet is starting to fall apart.
According to a 2018 report from the International Panel of Climate Change titled “Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius,” if greenhouse gas rates continue the rate they’re going, we could see worsening food supply and wildfires, and a massive dying off of coral reefs as soon as 2040. The study shows that if we don’t do something, the world will be in a climate crisis by the time I’m 40.
Trust me, I want our generation to be good. While Canada’s federal government says they will be banning single-use plastics by the end of 2021, that alone won’t be enough. We can also help climate change by bringing in renewable energy, and we can also find a way to develop low-carbon fuel for airplanes and cars. We could also build cities more densely. There are multiple ideas out there, so let’s do what we need to do for the planet to be safe when I turn old.
Another thing I’d love to see after I graduate is progress on eliminating racial injustice in the world.
We all know what we saw when a police officer put a knee on the back of the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who later passed away. But when people say that Canada isn’t having the same issues, that is completely untrue. First Nations people in this country are scared in their own homes. An example of which is earlier this year, when Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam was assaulted on video by an RCMP officer at Fort McMurray. We need to be able to do better to those who were here before us.
While yes, I’d say Canada is more inclusive than the United States, we still have our dark pasts too. Defunding the police and giving those funds to social programs like affordable housing, mental health will help people live better lives.
Finally, one of my biggest concerns with the world right now is the economy. The economy has taken a hit from this pandemic. The stocks have majorly fallen down to a significant level and the TSX stocks going red throughout the duration of the lockdown earlier in the year. Also, London’s unemployment rate back in June at 12.6 per cent, was the highest unemployment rate since 2001 (the year I was born). While we needed to take a massive shutdown back in March, no money coming in and coming out meant the economy was going to struggle.
However, I feel there is an opportunity to create new jobs by working to solve climate change and adding more funding into social programs. It will take some time for all of these changes to take place, but these are major areas of work our politicians need to address. We need to stop climate change, we need to eradicate racial injustice, and we need to create innovative new jobs for our economy.
I believe that we can pull it out and live in a world like this, even after this horrible year and a pandemic that has made our minds shift in a blink of an eye. Sure, 2020 wasn’t the best year, but heading in 2021, these are probably the three biggest concerns that I think all governments should take a look at.
I’m hopeful and optimistic because our generation wants these things to improve. Once those issues of climate change and racial injustice are addressed, the economy will grow back itself once the pandemic is gone and we will be fine. But, understanding these will take years to implement. Be patient, because these issues could last long into this decade.
Once we have found and administered a vaccine for COVID-19, we can focus on this and start working on solutions.