Dr Owain Williams By: Dr Owain Williams
Lecturer in IR and Human Security
View profile and Diary

10 Apr 2020 : Good Friday

In psotive news, although emerging from all the human disater that has unfolded, it seems that even after some 3 months there are signals that the global environment can recover. Due to the fall in industrial production, road and air traffic, and other variables based on fossil fuel use, levels of CO2 and other pollutants have steeply declined. In the Northern regions of India the Himalayas are visible for the first time in decades. The Guardian carries a very good article, stressing the opportunities that the global health crisis has for systemic change to help fix our environmental crisis. While not a cause for celebration, we must surely see what impact we can so quickly make to better planetary health. 

The economic costs of the present crisis will be long-lasting. My own HE sector is going to be in pieces after this. The shortfall in revenues from overseas students, the cancelled grants, summer schools and conferences, all add up to a reallly miserable picture. The Universities UK seeks 2 billion from the UK government for a bail out, and one Russel Group university has warned that it is facing a 25% cut in revenue. Students are expected to defer places in the autumn, although I think many may be eager to leave home by that point. Of course compared to other sectors the impact is presently not acute, only for those vulnerable staff on short contracts, who are being mercylessly ditched by some institutions.

In the US, NY state is in misery. The BBC reports that a mass grave has been opened on Hart Island of the Bronx, with ladders being used to lower coffins due to the depth of the pit. It is a harrowing set of images. Unemployment is now 16.6 million in the country. Trump continues to spout nonsense in daily briefings with CNN seeming now to mostly switch on mic when Fauci or Birx come on.

In the UK the papers are full of relief for Boris Johnson being moved from ICU, and full of expectation as to leadership in the crisis resuming. However, it is clear that the UK was completely unprepared for the crisis and that leadership failed when it counted. This is underscored by photos of smiling nurses on shift dressed in blue bin bags, all smiling and thumbes up. Three of the group have now tested positive for COVID. It is a complete disgrace.

We are all home today and apart from this entry, none of us even trying to work. The weather is turning in Brisbane and it is getting cooler in the evenings. My partner, a true Queenslander now wanders around in a scarf today. It is a chilly 25 degrees. 


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