The silence cast by Monday’s snow echoed the sudden halt of the first lockdown. Nothing is more natural than snow in the winter, but this sudden interruption comes on top of a long list of other anomalies in recent years.
Today’s silence will not last long; in a day or two, neighborhoods will start sounding like construction sites again as apartment blocks continue to rise. The problems faced by each person, by the country and by the planet will remain unresolved, with the only difference being that the silence may have given us a moment to reflect on them a bit more.
Regardless of whether the foul weather is linked to the climate crisis or not, there is no doubt that we have experienced more extreme weather in recent years.
The weather also has an impact that is related to geopolitical developments and the turmoil in global industries and supply chains caused by the pandemic. With the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine (or with some intervention that will prompt a response from the United States and at least some members of the European Union) looming closer, already high natural gas prices will likely skyrocket again.
And more turmoil in the energy market will have a direct impact on household budgets at a time when many are already struggling to pay for heating. And if the high prices of electricity, natural gas and petrol weren’t enough, there may also be a problem with supply if Russia closes the tap. And that will come on top of the surge in inflation, strengthening insecurities caused by the pandemic and rising debts and deficits.
The snow covers all the ugliness and forces us into a new kind of lockdown that gives us the opportunity to pause for a bit and think about where we’re heading. The pandemic may have allowed us to learn a lot about ourselves, our society, about how we are all connected across this globe and how much we all need each other. We talked to neighbors we didn’t know, understood the work done by doctors and medical staff, and appreciated the efforts of workers in production, delivery and sanitation.
And just as we became a little bit wiser, we returned to all of our bad habits.
Briefly echoing the silence and awe of the first long lockdown, the snow is a reminder of how alone and how connected we are. Yet we insist on ignoring this lesson, even as everything around us is in a state of flux.