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The weather is out of season. At least in Europe: According to the calendar, we are in the middle of spring, yet it is cold; the sky is grey; the sun is nowhere to be seen; even the late frost is destroying the promise of the most precious harvest. Despite all the predictions of inevitable weather warming, climate disruption is in fact manifesting itself in a spring that is colder than the secular average.
And yet, we live as if everything were normal; as if spring were really here; as if the trees were in bloom and the sun was very warm; no one complains; we marvel; we mime a sunny, happy and normal Ascension weekend, we go on holiday.
More generally, we pretend that we are returning to normality in everything:
The pandemic is still with us, despite the progress of vaccination; and yet, we pretend that it is almost over; restaurants, shops, cinemas, theatres are opening again. In this way, we pretend to live in a normal world. As if we could create normality by mimicking it.
Just as we are tired of a long winter, we pretend that spring is really here; and just as we are tired of an interminable pandemic, we pretend that it is over. And we use the one to reassure ourselves about the other: winter will eventually go away, very soon no doubt; and we would like to believe that the same will happen with the pandemic; that it will soon go away too.
This denial of reality is perhaps, as with the weather, simply a way of living in advance of a late spring, before a blazing summer.
Yet nothing is normal. And if we were sensible, we wouldn’t have to go to the beaches or the restaurants and theatres. Or at least we should only go with infinite caution, just as we should only go to the beach in heavy pullover and in restaurants with considerable distances.
More generally, this strange spring is like a metaphor for the state of our society.
If we want to avoid this being the best way to catch a late flu, and to see the virus come back, we have to protect ourselves from the cold and from contagion; we have to live this late spring lucidly, knowing that it is not a spring like the others, that there may not be another spring like the others. That nothing will ever be the same again. That there is no point in going back to our old ways. That there is no point in thinking that winter is over, that the pandemic is over, that the world is back to normal. For there is no longer any normality. The world is changing radically; in all its natural and social dimensions. It is no longer a time for repetition, for expecting the same.
And the metaphor does not end there: if we can do nothing about the weather in the weeks to come, or about the short-term evolution of the pandemic, other than to protect ourselves from it, we could do a lot about the weather in the years to come and about the emergence of future pandemics.
To do this, we would have to undertake a huge number of changes in our behaviour and infrastructure, both of which would have an impact on our climate and our health.
This is further proof, if any were needed, that our health cannot be separated from that of our planet, and that we should treat both, applying first of all the same principle: not to lie to ourselves.
More generally, this strange spring is like a metaphor for the state of our society. We live as if it were normal, a life on credit, assisted, imaginary, virtual. This is rare that it is enough to mimic reality to make it happen.