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Apausalypse Now

Apausalypse Now: How the 2020 Pandemic changed everything

I have spent much of this truly astonishing year collecting testimony from people around the world from all walks of life, and trying to make sense of everything they told me. But how will this shared experience influence our thinking in the future? Tune in tonight for a special hour with me and a virtual panel of international guests, to find out.

By Johnny Bliss

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After more than ten years of being constantly on the road, collecting stories from people I met along the way, my transition to 100% „home office“ took a little bit of getting used to. My jungle expeditions were replaced by trips to the refrigerator; the tropical rain storms were replaced by hot showers; my in-person interviews atop glaciers were replaced by virtual tours and Zoom calls.

The weirdest thing about it, however, is how well it worked. After I spent the first month in a never-ending state of panic, learning on-the-job how to arrange and conduct interviews entirely from my bedroom, I did settle into this new normal, and by and large, it hasn’t been a complete disaster. I recognize that I am able to say this from a position of privilege, but I’ve often reflected this year on how different the Covid-19 pandemic would have felt, were it instead the Covid-09 pandemic or even the Covid-99 pandemic! Imagine living through these times back when the internet was much slower, and virtual work as we now understand it was effectively impossible.

Zoom screenshot

Johnny Bliss

Screenshot from a video chat this year, in my ‚office‘

In short, as terrible as this pandemic has been, I can’t help but reflect how much worse it could have been, at a different time, and perhaps with a different virus. So many of the adaptations we’ve made to our lives simply wouldn’t have worked, before. The fact that I’m able to present you with a program such as this one feels nothing short of miraculous; even two, three years ago, it would have been much more difficult.

Among the people I collected testimony from were a professor of journalism in southern China, a science journalist in Russia, a marine biologist working in Antarctica, a First Nations woman from the pacific-northwestern archipelago of Haida Gwaii, multiple wildfire survivors in California, and the Icelandic writer, artist and environmentalist Andri Snær Magnason.

While everyone I spoke to had different takes on the crisis, based on where they lived and how their local governments had (or hadn’t) handled the crisis, I encountered certain themes coming up over and over again. We all seem to have been forced to seriously question our own career choices, our habits, our personal relationships, and the overall directions our lives were going. Many of us now wondered, having had the chance to stop and think about things, if we would ever go back to living the way that we did before, given the choice?

The author Andri Magnason, from whom I pilfered the term ‚Apausalypse’, went even one step further and wondered if perhaps our governments and heads of industry might also take this opportunity: from his home office in Reykjavik, he told me over Zoom, “So this pandemic caused our governments to basically destroy the economy, based on medical science and the urgency of becoming sick in the next one or two weeks. So when we restart the economies, will that be done by neglecting climate science? Wouldn’t it be strange to destroy the economy based on science, but restart the economies neglecting it? The generation that experienced Covid will think differently about the role of government, and how they should intervene with scientific findings connected to the greater common good.”

Andri Magnason, OK Glacier-1

Judy Natal

Andri Magnason last year, with his memorial plaque for Okjökull (Ok glacier)

Positive side effects of COVID-19 pandemic

For other intriguing thoughts on topics such as how journalism has been forced to change in times of pandemic, how to balance the importance of free speech versus safety, the protection of vulnerable communities and much more, tune in for „Apausalypse Now“, a special one hour program in FM4 Homebase, tonight (December 16th) from 21 Uhr!

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