Friday Thread: “Just 9% want everything to go back to how it was before…”

Interesting data on how folks in GB are dealing with the lockdown. Judging from the fact that flour rather than toilet rolls are the rare items on our shopping list, I would say this is pretty broad:

  • Social bonds are stronger, with 40% feeling a stronger sense of local community and 39% more in touch with friends and family
  • 42% say the outbreak has changed how they value food as an essential, and one in ten have shared something like food or shopping with a neighbour for the first time
  • More than 19 million of us (38%) say they are cooking more from scratch and 17 million are throwing away less food (33%). 6% (and 9% of Londoners), 3 million people, have tried a veg box scheme or ordered food from a local farm for the very first time
  • 51% say they have noticed cleaner air, and 27% more wildlife since the outbreak began
  • Although 9% feel fitter and 27% are getting more exercise, more people (36%) say they are getting less exercise than before.

I don’t know if it is just me but, for now, at least, I think people are being somewhat kinder to each other. If that is the case I think what most of us have discovered is the richness of time that derives spending most of it at home.

The cleaner air is also something I’ve noticed. I hope somewhere someone is noting the climate data. The models that indicate we have limited time ahead to avert disastrous changes in climate are only based on projections of the same behaviours.

This disruption could do two positive things. One, some aspects (like a 70% drop in local road usage) could slow down the timing of those projections; two, in proving the increase in the quality of life available to all of us, end all the pointless arguments.

The biggest barrier to action on climate change is the pervasive sense that none of us can do anything to stop it. If we can prove that we can (even if the lockdown ends many of our behaviours will shift to things like homeworking), many barriers will drop.

My friend Professor Tom MacMillan has been working as Research Director for the Food, Farming & Countryside Commission in Britain, and he writes:

It will be afterwards, therefore, as the crisis eases, that these debates and possibilities will play out. But how much will we remember then of what we are doing, feeling and wanting now, of what’s working well and what’s failing? Some experiences will surely mark us forever.

But how skewed will our collective memory be, and the political space for reconstruction, by our capacity to capture data in the meantime? Will big businesses and institutions, with inbuilt monitoring systems, be best able to meet government’s demands for evidence from this period to underpin future policy?

Those are open questions, but it is also important that we understand that this is an opportunity to effect profound change for the way we choose to live.

And it depends on us being able to rise to the occasion depending on how much resonance and resilience we can broker through our new distributed, platformed world.

We might start by telling better stories to ourselves about ourselves?

Photo by qimono is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA