Life

Jake O'Kane: Listen to science not the DUP's Gregory Campbell

No harm to Gregory Campbell, he can return to work whenever he likes. In fact, he can lick lampposts on his way there, but I'll wait until scientists decide it's safe to return.

The DUP's Gregory Campbell. There continues to be no end of people who, while possessing no medical qualifications, remain intent on sharing their ignorance about this pandemic. Picture by Justin Kernoghan/Photopress
Jake O'Kane

IN A matter of weeks, all I once viewed important has changed. I have a wardrobe of clothes I no longer wear and a car I no longer drive. I shudder at the thought of going to a restaurant, cinema or theatre and my social life is in my home with my wife and children.

Where once I was motivated by work, today I finally understand the saying, ‘Your health is your wealth’.

There continues to be no end of people who, while possessing no medical qualifications, remain intent on sharing their ignorance about this pandemic.

This week, the DUP’s Gregory Campbell suggested we should rush back to work at the earliest opportunity to save the economy. No harm to Mr Campbell, he can return to work whenever he likes. In fact, he can lick lampposts on his way there, but I’ll wait until scientists decide it’s safe to return.

Not that Gregory could ever be accused of originality; his latest pronouncements merely echo the thinking of that self-professed world-renowned epidemiologist, President Donald Trump. Trump ridiculously predicted the US would be rid of Covid-19 and back to work by Easter – what he didn’t mention was for that to happen would necessitate a miracle of the same magnitude as the one Easter celebrates.

Trump quickly back-pedalled, as the US now leads the world in coronavirus infections, with the pandemic raging across the country.

While money is important, what both Trump and Campbell ignore is you can’t take it with you, as there are no pockets in a shroud. As a society, our focus has rightly shifted from wealth to health, with those of us lucky to survive forever scarred with a visceral awareness of our fragility.

We should remember these days as a time when NHS workers sacrificed their own health in the service of society. While they refuse to see themselves as heroes, what other name describes people who daily walk on to Covid-19 wards with lamentably little personal protection equipment?

Over the next few months, our NHS will be forced to adjust and adapt in ways unimaginable only a short time ago.

Sayings such as, ‘You’d think I’d the plague the way they avoided me’, today resonate in a new way. A month ago, personal space was decreed as zero to 20 inches for intimate couples, one to 1.5 feet for friends and family, and three to 10 feet for casual acquaintances and co-workers. While intimate couples will always be intimate, everyone else will remain at a two-metre distance.

Albert Einstein supposedly said, "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits". On the few occasions I’ve ventured out for a walk, I’ve been incensed by morons who continue to ignore two-metre social distancing. I’m thinking of bringing a brush handle on my walks and waving it above my head screaming, "Unclean, unclean, keep your distance".

A connection occurred to me between coronavirus and the chaos theory of mathematician Edward Lorenz, who used the famous ‘butterfly effect’ as a metaphor to explain his concept.

The ‘butterfly effect’ states that a butterfly flapping it’s wings can affect the path of a tornado on the other side of the world, showing how an initially small effect can affect an exponentially larger outcome. If you replace ‘butterfly’ with ‘bat’, this theory becomes pertinent, as many scientists believe the coronavirus outbreak originated when a bat was butchered in a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan, China, resulting in the virus jumping species.

It’s mind-boggling to think that a bat could be responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, the cessation of international trade – resulting in costs which will run into trillions of dollars – and the majority of humanity forced to spend months under virtual house arrest.

But we shouldn’t be shocked; since the industrial revolution, we have treated the Earth as an inexhaustible resource, capable of sustaining whatever demands we placed on it. Today we know better. Nature has humbled us, demonstrating our frailty and showing we are but a part, rather than master, of the complex ecology which makes up life on Earth.

Again, validating ‘chaos theory’, it was one of Earth’s smallest life forms – a virus – which stripped us of income, liberty and life. Where the environmental movement failed, Covid-19 has succeeded, leaving planes on runways, motor vehicles silent and factories mothballed.

If this pandemic doesn’t waken us to our ecological responsibilities then the Earth may yet view humanity as superfluous, and with one viral mutation, end us.

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