In a post-pandemic world, will positive progress continue?

SARS CoV-2 (commonly known as COVID-19) is going to be a part of life for the foreseeable future. That’s the overarching sentiment, at least for the time being.

Though its effects seem to be waning, in no small part due to control measures having been put in place with mitigating responses like masking, vaxxing, distancing, testing and even self-quarantining, the disease probably is not going to go away completely. As a matter of fact, it could even be that the airborne contagion in the future, will be treated as is the flu today in terms of preventative measures taken; that is, through administration of annual or regular inoculations.

So, let’s talk air quality, shall we?

With life for most returning to a more normal state and with business getting on in the more usual manner, meaning economic activity increasing in response, such doesn’t exactly bode well for the air.

If you remember, circa April 2020 during the pandemic’s first wave and synonymous with travel being significantly curtailed, emissions quite literally plummeted from what had been considered normal. Worldwide, oxides of nitrogen pollutants fell 17 percent while greenhouse gases in general declined some 21 percent. (See: “Teledistanced broadcast journalism: Coming through loud and clear and air-friendlily,” May 3, 2021, Air Quality Matters post).

Meanwhile, all of that cleaner-air progress could be erased if something along the lines of our embracing zero- and near-zero-emissions travel isn’t realized on a massive scale and our seeming penchant for driving gas-guzzling motor vehicles en masse is maintained.

That’s the first area of focus, or, depending upon how one views this, area of concern.

The second item on the post-pandemic agenda is work. Between late December 2019 and until just recently, for all those who could, they worked remotely. Telecommuting is a capability that as few as 25 years ago wasn’t even considered practical due to the fact the Internet then was only in its infancy.

Think for a moment how the typical order was processed before the advent of the World Wide Web. If you worked in the service industry like audio entertainment equipment repair, for instance, and if replacement parts were not stockpiled in-house or even if they were and inventory of such was low or depleted, the proper protocol was to either get on the horn (phone) and call the supplier to place an order or the equivalent was done by hand-written or typed letter, such then sent on its way via mail.

Just as Web sites and the Internet have made possible the elimination of hard-copy paper and telephone transactions, telecommuting or teleworking is practically rendering obsolete the necessity to commute to the office to, as it were, fulfill some if not all work obligations, depending; in other words, those that can also be done remotely.

This being the case, what this translates to is money that might otherwise have been spent on ride-hailing, ride-sharing, public transit or fuel and vehicle upkeep necessary in providing a satisfactory means of workers getting to and from their jobs day-in and day-out for how ever many days per week such were required to report to work was rendered null and void, all made possible via digital communications. And, by virtue of this, less negative impact to the air resulted.

In more than just those ways, during the pandemic, people by and large learned to be more resourceful. We not only discovered that could product be delivered to the front door, but services could be received directly online, of course, depending on what type of service it is. A perfect example of the latter is live-stream capability. A service of this nature, in fact, in many cases obviates the need for a personal trip to, for example, the neighborhood branch of the participating video chain as it has to do with renting old, new, what-have-you cinematic productions that could then – for a fee – be piped into the home to view on the big-, wide-, you-name-it- screen T.V. For such subscribers of said services time is saved most definitely. But, even more than just that, is the convenience aspect.

And it doesn’t end there: The same sort of thing could be said regarding home-delivered groceries, consumer goods of any number of descriptions, etc., all of which hints at or could point to what’s to come.

That all said and given all the positive outcomes, the question is, in a post-pandemic world, will those be sustained?

– Alan Kandel

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