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03/04/2020 Mikael Westerlund

Please mind the gap

We are isolating during COVID-19 and minding the gap between us, but are we minding the sustainability gap that we are about to fall into?
Please mind the gap

Flatten the curve!

At the times of the COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing, this safety reminder is something that not too many of us are hearing daily. We hear a lot of talk and news about flattening the curve instead.
The world has been struck by pandemic and we are for the first time since WWII in a global crisis. Material supply issues being addressed in the news as governments are starting to scramble for the same resources. Meanwhile, we see news regarding the security of supply of basic foods in many countries, while crops are being left in the fields due to lack of labour resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic gives us, the current generations, an opportunity to reflect and act. Now, at the time of writing, we are at 1.7M confirmed infections and more than 111 000 deaths (according to the WHO). These numbers are horrifying indeed, especially looking at the ever-growing death toll.

With people needing to isolate themselves, the safety reminder “Please mind the gap”, is more imminent and needed than ever before!

It is clear, that the characteristics and impact of climate change in comparison to COVID-19 are totally different on an individual level, in the short term. However, when considering the estimations of the climate change impact, again by WHO, we can see that this will affect most of us, or our children in the not too distant future:

  • Climate change will affect the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.
  • Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.
  • The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), are estimated to be between USD 2-4 billion/year by 2030.
  • Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.
  • Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution.

Are we now coming to a tipping point for the climate as we have seen for the COVID-19 breakout?

In the article “,,The projected timing of abrupt ecological disruption from climate change published” in Nature (2020). Trisos, C.H., Merow, C. & Pigot, A.L. suggest that this forthcoming change will be abrupt.

The COVID-19 outbreak prognosis and predictions took world leaders by surprise

Should we be hearing the call for safety “Please mind the sustainability gap”, more clearly and stronger now that the world has come to a halt? Should we use this time to consider what other curve, equally important if not greater, also needs to be flattened?

It baffles me still, why are we not seeing the same level of engagement on the climate crisis as we are seeing on COVID-19? Even though we can not only predict but clearly measure climate change? The schedule for climate change will (hopefully) not be as rapid as for the COVID-19 outbreak, so we should be able to react, find alternative ways and bridge this imminent sustainability gap! Let us address this other curve, before we are hit harder by climate change than how we are being hit by the COVID-19 outbreak now!

We at Origin by Ocean are doing our part of flattening the climate change curve! With our new biorefinery business and biomass production eco-systems we are addressing the UN sustainability goals. We can make a great impact on our environment and can create a prosperous future, for us and our coming generations!

We will be using the best available science and technologies, trial and error, concrete actions and big scoops of “Finnish sisu”, in our quest forward.

Join us and let’s use the opportunity to refocus, provided to us by COVID-19, on more long-term sustainable options, choices, supply chains, business models and products.


Together we can do this!

This blog post was inspired by:

  1. The LinkedIn post of Frederik van Deurs who stated that the market for sustainable innovations is big! “, The business case for sustainable innovation is clear – it’s deemed to be a 13 trillion USD market opportunity by PWC and the UN.”
  2. The Guardian, Fiona Harveys article on Wildlife destruction ‘not a slippery slope but a series of cliff edges’
  3. Trisos, C.H., Merow, C. & Pigot, A.L. The projected timing of abrupt ecological disruption from climate change.Nature,(2020).
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