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November 25, 2020
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The silver lining among clouds Part I

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
April 17, 2020

At the Community Voice, we pride ourselves not only on bringing you the facts, but also on providing context and perspective. On reporting the good stuff, large and small, that brings us together as a community. So, in that spirit, let’s explore some of the “silver linings” found in the dark cloud.

Obviously, the dark cloud is in reference to the Covid-19 pandemic. On television, in newspapers and other media, multiple stories are presented about this virus and its impacts. For example, my series of stories called “Behind the Closed Door” is driven by the virus and its impacts on individuals and families in our community. Unfortunately, some media tend to focus on just the negative impacts using sensational headlines to draw in viewers and readers with facts and figures about new cases, increasing deaths, lost jobs, closed businesses, etc. The cliché that, “if it bleeds, it leads” is visibly present within major media outlets. 

And it is working for them! Television ratings for news programs and governmental press conferences are up. Readership and revenue for major newspapers is also rising. What isn’t changing is the “trusted” source for news. According to media research companies, if CNN or the New York Times is your “go to” media outlet; they still are. If your media consumption was through Fox News or the New York Post; it too still is. As my interviewee this week expressed, how do we stay “informed but not overwhelmed.”

One of the questions I asked during my interviews was “what, if anything, is a silver lining for you during this stay at home period.” Some common themes emerged. These included learning to use technology to stay in contact with family and friends. Another was seeing and hearing about folks pulling together again, reaching out and helping each other. There was a common feeling of gratefulness for what they and their family have, not just what they’ve loss. Spending more quality time with their children or loved ones. Gaining some perspective and tolerance for others who may not have been as fortunate. Hope for the future that once this is over, they won’t get too busy and lose focus on what is important in their lives. 

On a larger scale what other positives are being discussed online and in the world outside our local communities? A few themes seem to be emerging. These include environmental impacts, technology, reduction of polarization and global trade impacts. Let’s look at environmental impacts first.

Sheltering in place has some positive impacts for our environment. There is less traffic. Therefore, less accidents, less gas consumed and energy costs for some fossil fuels are decreasing. It also means less nitrogen and carbon is being released into the air. Reduced pollution in the air and waterways are being noted by scientists and environmentalists. In India, the Himalayan mountain range is visible from a distance for the first time in years. The canals in Venice are cleaner. The smog in Los Angeles has retreated. You can hear the birds singing in many urban and suburban locations as noise pollution has gone down. Folks are out walking again seeing and appreciating nature’s beauty around them.

We can’t forget the tremendous negative economic

impact; however, in the short term it appears the environment is a positive side effect. That is similar to the short-term impact last seen during the great recession in the late 2000s, early 2010s. Long term, these impacts may not be as great as the economy ramps up and we return to more full employment with plants reopening and traffic increasing. However, some changes may remain. It may not be a 15-40 percent reduction in carbons going into the air but based on previous pauses in the economy a 2-3 percent long term improvement is likely as businesses incorporate new behaviors, allow more work from home opportunities, incorporate new technologies. One emerging example is the use of Telemedicine for routine appointments and follow-ups. Another is easier and more cost-effective use of video conferencing tools for meetings and business collaborations reducing the need for face-to face in person meetings.

In future articles, we will explore other silver linings of this pandemic. You can too. Some reflections about the positives gained in your own life or a simple search online using key terms like “positive impact of pandemic on the …” Until next time, be well and stay safe.