Earth Day 2021: Transformations

One of Webster’s definitions for the word “transformation” is: “change in form, appearance, nature, or character.”*

Two of the most common examples of a so-called “naturally-occurring” transformation are a change in seasons and the other being the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, the first a purely physical change; the second example both a physical and biological transformation.

When we talk of transformation, what we’re really talking about is change.

I’m sure everyone reading this is intimately familiar with the maxim: “The only thing constant in this world is change.”

It’s interesting – because one movie in particular that deals with this idea (or maybe more accurately, the lack thereof) is “The Age of Adeline.” The film’s main character, Adeline Bowman, through a life-altering process, or transformation, just stopped aging. And due to this inability of Bowman’s to grow any older, to one entity at least, she became, in a sense, a “standout,” more than just a curiosity, to say the least! At the end of the day, movie, actually, through the same process that first enabled Bowman’s internal aging mechanism to be shut down, the process of aging in her had once again resumed. Though over a hundred years old by the time the second life-altering experience occurred, the film’s main character didn’t look a day over, well, if I’m to be honest, 38.

So, expanding upon this same basic theme, can you imagine a world without change?!

If you think about it, that sounds kind of boring. That’s also not the reality so we don’t need to concern ourselves with that, thankfully.

In that the world does change, if it changes too much and too fast, that could mean we as observers, participants of/in the transformation could, for lack of my finding a better way of putting it, get left behind, which, in essence, means that adjustment would be necessitated just so we humans could keep up.

And, what does any or all of this have to do with Earth Day?

Well, to draw a parallel, the fact of the matter is, the Earth, since time immemorial has undergone and continues to undergo change. And, it’s a process that isn’t going to stop, at least, as far as anyone knows, anytime soon. But ask yourself this: Has change in the world been, and I’m talking about overall, for the better or worse?

If your answer is “for worse,” what this would imply is that we have our share of work to do. If you’re among the camp that believes otherwise, then the implication is this is no time to rest on one’s laurels, because a change in fortunes, as it were, could, in fact, happen in an instant, as the world has now seen with the coronavirus pandemic.

That “adjustment” that I alluded to above was put to the test big time in the effort launched to come up with a vaccine to neutralize this deadly disease. And, those in the medical and scientific communities really stepped up, developing effective vaccines in less than a year’s time, a process that could take as long as a decade or more under ordinary circumstances. (Just to be clear, there are a number of folks who have reservations about getting the vaccine and it has been reported that around 30 percent of Americans who are eligible to receive one are expected to forego getting the vaccine).

And, if you want to talk more about “adjustment,” what prior to the COVID-19 outbreak had been deemed to be quote-unquote “normal,” this post-coronavirus outbreak was no longer the case. To effectively deal with it, plainly and simply, we humans were forced to adjust! As a result, thankfully, countless lives were saved! And, absent the required and, in some cases, mandated changes, conditions could have and probably would have, been so much worse.

In the final analysis, the year 2020 will perhaps be recorded in the history books as being truly transformational. Others might conclude “unprecedented.” I don’t believe I would go that far; maybe extraordinary, but unprecedented, uh, that might be a bit of a stretch.

As an adjunct to viral pathogen mitigation generally and COVID-19 eradication in particular, indoor air quality from here going forward might just become the focus of more attention in the sense that indoor air purification/filtration and the systems and devices for helping in that regard, might become more commonplace and widespread. And, because of this, the science and field itself, like everything else talked about here, could become “transformed.”

* Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1991 edition, p. 1416

– Alan Kandel

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