During the ongoing epidemic, where we see the health care system in decline, also in Poland, but especially in Italy, Spain and Iran, and in a moment in the Global South, it is easy to forget that this crisis, although tragic, is not our most difficult challenge.
The climate catastrophe continues, and although by stopping the economy the Earth will be able to take a deeper breath, the epidemic, apart from the other devastations it causes, also deprives us of valuable time to fight the rise in global warming.
We are now seeing the mobilisation of governments that we would expect in response to a disaster that scientists and activists have been warning about for years. But it would be naive to think that suddenly the governments of the countries of the Global North will change their policies based on infinite growth. Contrary; to get out of the economic crisis, they will probably double the burning and extraction of fossil fuels, postponing the green transformation and investment in renewable energy.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, the Polish government wants to convince us that it is doing everything necessary to ensure the safety of its citizens. It is under this pretext that it is introducing more and more new restrictions, most of which are not even legally binding, locking people in their homes under the threat of a fine, which most Poles cannot afford. At the same time, it increases the powers of the services to effectively enforce the newly introduced bans.
Unfortunately, the media have picked up on the narrative of caring for our safety and support the denial of freedoms and civil rights. And these, step by step, lead to the strengthening of the fascist state. It is worth remembering that once taken away, the rights are difficult to regain.
In the context of both the coronavirus epidemic, the ban on leaving home and patrolling the streets of our cities by the army and the police, and the ongoing and ignored climate catastrophe, let us not forget about the virus that led us to where we are now: capitalism.
It is capitalism that is to blame for all the misfortunes that we are now seeing through the magnifying glass of the epidemic crisis: tragic working conditions, garbage contracts, lack of access to water and sanitation for workers and employees, lack of health holidays, privatisation of insurance and health care, minimum funding for health care, violence against animals, homelessness crisis. The desire for profit, the image of infinite growth and the feeling of impunity leads to ignoring the problem of the climate disaster. Unfortunately, once the epidemic is over, none of these problems will become less pressing. That is why we cannot stop fighting the virus that is constantly ravaging this planet.