June 24, 2020

Visit Ethiopia... later

Visit Ethiopia... later

What's the future of tourism in a post-COVID-19 world? How do you do it sustainably, so that it benefits local communities without leaving a massive carbon footprint? Kelley talks with Mark Chapman, whose community tourism organization, Tesfa Tours, has been answering these questions—while providing guests with unforgettable experiences—for the last 20 years.

Check out Testa Tours at

Tesfa Tours has been featured in National Geographic, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Telegraph, The Irish Times and Wanderlust Travel Magazine.

Do yourself a favor and check out photos of Tesfa Tour's communities—located in the stunningly beautiful landscape of Northern Ethiopia—on our Instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/anewnormalpodcast/

And if you have a suggestion for the show, by all means get in touch. Until our website is up and running you can contact me at www.kelleyslynch.com

The theme music is Fragilistic by Ketsa
licensed under CC BY NC ND 4.0



Cindy Sealls: 0:02Remember, we would always joke about Siberia. It's so cold. It's Siberia. Can't do that anymore. It's a hundred degrees in Siberia.

Kelley Lynch: 0:10That's amazing.

Cindy Sealls: 0:10Take that out of our lingo. Can't say that anymore. Whenever you thought of Siberia, it's freezing. That's all you thought of. It's cold. No matter what time of year. It's cold. It's Siberia.

Kelley Lynch: 0:26That's right.

Cindy Sealls: 0:27But, not anymore.

Kelley Lynch: 0:30Man, that's a whole new normal.

Cindy Sealls: 0:32I was reading this, just kind of looking up Okay, what are they saying about global warming and how many people will die every year?

Kelley Lynch: 0:42You looked that up?

Cindy Sealls: 0:43I did. They are guessing 250,000 people a year from stuff like all of the breathing problems people are gonna have , heat stroke you know, older people will die. Of course, because they're the ones who are most vulnerable when it gets hot. And I was thinking, okay, how many people have died of covid? Like we're going on half a million, right?

Kelley Lynch: 1:12Worldwide?

Cindy Sealls: 1:13Worldwide.

Kelley Lynch: 1:14Hold on. I can figure that out. Uh , let me just Google that right now... More than 450,000 people have died worldwide.

Cindy Sealls: 1:27Yeah. Like almost half a million people. And look at the way we're treating it.

Kelley Lynch: 1:33It really seems to have fallen off the radar. And then you notice that the President and Vice President don't even wear a mask.

Cindy Sealls: 1:41They have a rally. People don't have a mask. You don't have to have a mask because it's a joke. People think it's a joke.

Kelley Lynch: 1:48I was reading last night in middle of the night. I think all these things were kind of weighing on my mind. And so it was about 1:30am I woke up and I thought, okay, I'll just read. And I pulled out my Great Influenza book. So, I was reading about Woodrow Wilson. And I was pretty amazed. Let's start with the fact that people were told not to even publish that news.

Cindy Sealls: 2:24Why was that?

Kelley Lynch: 2:25Because he wanted to focus on the war effort. It was censorship came from within, but it also was enforced by different agencies and you were not allowed to say things against the government because of this. And so people didn't know about the pandemic in the way that they might have done. They didn't hear about all the people going across to the war and dying on the ships on the way because of the virus. The mechanisms are different, but the idea is the same. The idea that this thing isn't even happening or this thing isn't even real or this thing, isn't even something that we really need to bother with.

Cindy Sealls: 3:15This is war against COVID: everybody go out, everybody go out, go out and shop. You know, that whole 9/11 thing when they came out right after 9/11, just like go shop, go shop. That was the president's message. We're not afraid of you, Al-Qaida. We're going to go out and get coffee, tomorrow. Nana nana na. I'm like what?

Kelley Lynch: 3:49The American consumer will triumph.

Cindy Sealls: 3:53You know, I mean it was just crazy. This is us: consume, consume, consume. That's our American way.

Kelley Lynch: 4:14Hi, my name's Kelly Lynch. Welcome to A New Normal, a podcast about how we're adapting to life during the pandemic and where we go from here. My guest today is Mark Chapman. Mark runs Tesfa Tours, an organization devoted to community tourism in Ethiopia. COVID-19 has impacted tourism more than almost any other industry. I wanted to find out how Mark and his communities are adapting. Wow. Nice to see you, Mark.

Mark Chapman: 4:49It's lovely to see you as well. It's really great.

Kelley Lynch: 4:52Yeah . It's been a long time.

Mark Chapman: 4:55Goodness knows how long it's been. I just now and then see you moving around on Facebook and now you're flying between different places.

Kelley Lynch: 5:01I think the last time was a couple of years ago when I was in Ethiopia.

Mark Chapman: 5:05Things are different at the moment, huh?

Kelley Lynch: 5:07Man, things are different at the moment. What's going on in Ethiopia?

Mark Chapman: 5:12Well, we're , we're in a funny situation because as you know , uh, Ethiopian airlines flies to China all the time, more than a dozen flights a week before the virus started and they carried on through January, through February, flights were coming in. Complaints were being made from other heads of State within Africa because Ethiopia was a corridor by which everyone assumed the virus would come in. So we fast forward now to second, half of April. There hasn't been a huge outbreak here. Most of the cases that have come through recently have been people that have flown into Addis and have been put into automatic quarantine. You have to do 14 days when you arrive in a hotel and at your own cost. The Prime Minister has said, we can't do a full lock down. People have no way to buy provisions for a week. They don't have the money for that. There's a lot of people that won't have access to running water in their own compound. So hand-washing is already a massive problem, but there are hand washing stations out on the street in front of shops and in front of the banks. So they're pushing that. They've tried to get people to wear face masks when they go out. They've banned meetings of more than four. People have said that if you're traveling in public transport, the half the seats have to be empty. So they are trying to slow everything down. A lot of government offices are closed or semi-closed. Some businesses have been advised to sort of slow down. Churches and mosques have been shut. Which is an incredible thing. As you understand, people here are very devout. Schools are closed as well and they have no facility to provide online education for t heir students. Talking to somebody from the ministry of education in a meeting the other day, I understand that the government is considering that everybody will just, once covid has gone, they will restart the last year. So everybody will go back a year effectively or go back to where they were in September, 2019 and restart that year. That will be from primary all the way through to university.

Kelley Lynch: 7:34Wow. That's quite something. Are people accepting things reasonably easily or?

Mark Chapman: 7:41Yeah, I think there's a good number of people that are scared. And that number is growing. As stories get passed around information is spread. We have a very good minister of health. She's been posting regularly on Facebook and other sources. Business leaders and opposition parties and politicians have all come together to support the very sensible measures really that the government is taking here. So at the moment everybody's sort of pulling together.

Kelley Lynch: 8:24One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is because probably more than anybody, I would imagine your business has been severely impacted.

Mark Chapman: 8:33Kelley, as you know, I've been 20 years developing community-based tourism. We have built a number of guest houses across mountains in the North of Ethiopia and these guest houses, I say we, but we've funded the communities to build simple accommodation. And then our guests walk from guest house to guest house. 55% of the income stays with the communities. 25% goes to the guides and we take 20%. My company Tesfa tours are doing the marketing and booking. So it is a philanthropic exercise, but of course, since April we've had no clients at all. So we're quite lucky in a way because the virus impacted us after our high season, which was October, November, December, January, but still, this is, this is a long period without any income. If some people are forecasts international flights increase hugely in cost and people are in a massive recession through Europe and America and our other client countries. Then we could find we've got very, very few guests and it's going to become quite a struggle to keep things together.

Kelley Lynch: 9:58When I first reached out to you about doing the podcast, you mentioned one of the things that have been on your mind most was your children and what this means for them. Do you want to talk about that?

Mark Chapman: 10:14Yeah. Well, I've got four kids, Kelley, as you know, the oldest, my daughter, 18 years old going to be 19 next week is studying development at university. And my youngest son is in year one at the British school here. He's five years old. So , I'm extremely concerned about what future is left for them. I'm coming up 55. So, you know, I'm on the other side of the curve and I've had the great fortune to see a lot of biodiversity, go to some amazing places. I was actually thinking that maybe I should take my kids to Kenya and show them a bit of the wildlife there while it's still there. Because five years from now what's going to be left there? What's the situation going to be? So I'm extremely concerned. Coming into COVID-19 we've seen the pause button get pressed. Suddenly skies have cleared canals in Venice by all accounts h ave cleaned up and the pollution has reduced enormously. So we have a kind of golden opportunity to decide how we restart this. And if we leave it to Trump and Johnson, and all of these people to make the decisions for us, by the time my kids are starting families, we're going to be fighting a lot worse disasters then the coronavirus with flooding and forest fires and droughts, huge tension between those countries that have, a nd those countries that have not. Coastlines being i nundated. Populations, moving it's scary, scary stuff. And we just can't seem to react to it in the way that needs to be done then and change the priorities. So when you said let's have a chat about these things. I had a long talk with my oldest kids, my teenagers about how do we get everybody linked in to start having a conversation? And that it's really, we failed. I mean, my generation has failed to make the changes and they need to recognize that we have to have a revolution. I mean, some total change in the way that economics is viewed and the value given to profit. The value given to making money. T he value given to producing more and more stuff that half the time we don't really need. I t was a conversation that went on w ell i nto the night. But, somehow I think we have to, before these lockdowns end, w hile families a re together, we have to try to get grasp the, the concept a nd change politicians' minds. I really don't know how we go about doing that, but that seems to me, yeah , the biggest challenge that we all face, it's not COVID-19. COVID-19 will pass. People will die. We will all lose people we know, very sadly and companies will go bust and unemployment's rocketing through the roof. We know all of this. People are going to suffer, but things will pick up again. The virus will go and life will resume. But the real challenge is how do we make it resume in a way that that gives the planet a chance to recover from all of this terrible human activity over the last 50 years, The rain patterns are changing. It should be really dry from early October through late December. But in the last few years, every year, there's a period of two weeks of quite heavy rain, which does damage to the harvest that's coming in. My fear is that in a coming year, we're going to lose the rainy season and it's not going to come properly. And because life is so much on the edge for so many of these people, that has an impact and numbers are huge with 110 million in Ethiopia. There's millions of farmers that can't survive the whole year without food aid. So there's a permanent food insecurity issue. And then every year, one of these areas gets impacted and then there's another five or 10 million people that need feeding. So that's a constant hair find as weather patterns get more and more changed. Of course, Ethiopia is going to get more and more problems.

Kelley Lynch: 15:43So when we start talking about things, going back to quote unquote normal, what do you think about that?

Mark Chapman: 15:53Of course, I'm in tourism and , and one of the ironies is tourism relies on people flying. People, aren't going to come to Ethiopia unless they jump on a flight from Europe or the States or wherever. So , we all recognize that flying is bad for the environment. And I've had prior to COVID-19, I was having talks with a very interesting guy who runs responsible travel.com, Justin Francis, about whether we should even be in this business., Is this the right thing to be doing? And he was talking about the fact that people's travel patterns need to change. They need to travel for longer trips and make more out of those trips so that the trips need to be more responsible while they're out there. So instead of people coming for a week to 10 days, people should be coming for two weeks to three weeks. While in country, they should be thinking about how they're spending the money and how that's impacting on local people. So I accept that travel should become something that is a little bit more expensive because you're going to have to spend more on flights. And instead of taking lots of little short breaks, people should put the one trip a year where you go off for longer to a country that needs their support. Because without tourism, a lot of developing countries would be economically really challenged. I mean, Ethiopia has a fairly small tourism industry - perhaps 50,000 tourists a year. So it's a very small n umber i t's really, but that's vital to a huge number of people in Gondar, in Lalibela i n the Simien mountains. One of the cooks that I work with in the Simien mountains sent me text messages, did they saying I have a work for a couple of months. I've got no money f or my family. Can you help me? So without tourists coming, there's going to be a massive economic hit on what is a fairly green industry in some respects. So it will be a pity if people don't fly at all. But I think people's consumption of holidays has to change. My business is focused on community tourism, which is the lowest possible carbon impact walking from village to village. So I'm going to be putting out some suggested trips on our website, which will be very low carbon holidays. And then when you're staying at these community guests house , your carbon footprint is way lower than it would be back at home. And yet you're putting money into local farmers pockets, which is much needed. So , I think there is an argument that the kind of tourism that I'm doing has a strong place within a brave new world where we're trying to do things to benefit the poorer section of the world. Trying to learn more about them and trying to minimize our carbon footprint.

Kelley Lynch: 19:12Some people say that the system, I suppose we could say whether it's corporations or governments, are really too powerful for us to make any of these kinds of changes you're talking about, particularly with the environment. What do you think about that?

Mark Chapman: 19:32Yeah, I think, I think that's the reason why we haven't reacted to the climate change problems as we've reacted to COVID-19 because businesses haven't been able to see that it's in their interests to change to a carbon free world a low consumption world from that we've got to change patterns of consumption so that it's not all about getting the latest thing, how much you spend, how much you make. We've got to change the values of the world, but it doesn't suit Amazon. It doesn't suit BP and all the big corporations around the world to do that. And they have a massive lobby. They control the media that these corporations can very easily put information out there and support it and create this counter movement that's thinking that this is all a hoax that it's all going to change. We don't have to listen to it and I can aspire to get the new 65 inch TV that makes you a cup of tea in the morning and all the other stuff. The pressure is there for you just to buy the next of, of kit and stuff and the fancy new shoes. And how do we change that? What I came back to talking with my kids was the whole me too campaign. And that something like that needs to sweep through something that captures the , a high enough percentage of young people between the ages of 16 and 26. That sort of technically savvy, they're always on Instagram, they're always posting and stuff, and they don't have mortgages. They don't have to pay their kids' school fees yet. They're the ones who are independent that can shoot from the hip and move fast and change. It's much harder when you realize you've got to pay all these school fees. You've got to make sure your kids are funded at university and you've got mortgage to pay on your house. All of these things force you to sort of stay on the path that's been traveled before, but that younger generation can be the revolutionaries and take us into new territory.

Kelley Lynch: 21:55Coming out of this, you have the magic wand and say, I want to change, or I want to change these two or three things going forward. What would those be and why?

Mark Chapman: 22:09Wow. Okay. Well, you've got to get to the heart of the problems or how you've got to change the value that is given to making a profit. The drive to be not just profitable but then make more , increase your dividends, increase your profit. I mean, I often wonder what is it that drives wealthy people to become even wealthier. I mean, once you've got the nice car or you've got the second home and you've got the private jet and you've got all the stupid stuff that you surround yourself with, there comes a point where you can't, you just can't spend it. You end up with cars and motorbikes in garages under wraps and houses you never visit and planes you never fly. So what is it that's driving people to keep making money. It's the equation of money and power. Isn't it? It's if you've got more money, you're more powerful. And if you've got more money, again, you're more powerful than any other guy . And it's it's that, that we need to, we need to somehow change. You have this equation between making money and success. That equation has to be broken somehow. And the success in your life should not be about the wealth. It should be about spreading goodness, spreading love, spreading happiness to the people around you. Sometimes when I go trekking up in the mountains, I get to somewhere really beautiful and it's a moving experience. It's sometimes I get tears in my eyes and just well up, just so privileged to be there, such a beautiful place. And it's so magical. It's grounded. It feels like it's the high you were meant to get. There's something spiritual about it. So it's a shift in our values from values where we're valuing being part of the world as against doing something that's damaging to it. I think too many people say, look, there's nothing we can do. I compost, or I separate out my trash and my rubbish into the different bits of recycling and so on. And I take my shopping bag into the supermarket. We've got a bottle of water, so we don't buy plastic bottles. People do t heir little b its, but yet without government coming on board, as in the lockdowns, now the government h ave said, you have to do this. You have to stop doing that. Unless government w ould come on board in the same way, many people we speak to say I've almost given up. What's t he p oint because we're going nowhere fast. So we have to somehow be able to come together and show that there are enough of us and that there is a way forward to change things. And it's not one little thing like we've got to stop plastic bottles and we've got to do this. It's going to the heart it as we just discussed and trying to change the values of this world. And now is an opportunity that we never thought we'd have. We have to take this. Now we have no time. We don't have a year to wait and talk about it and then do something. We have to actually start something today, tomorrow and next week.

Kelley Lynch: 26:12It had been almost a month and a half since I talked to Mark, I wanted to call back and see what had changed. So Mark, it's good to see you again.

Mark Chapman: 26:22Yeah. Lovely to see you once more.

Kelley Lynch: 26:24It's been five weeks now, since we talked, I wondered if you could tell me about what's changed.

Mark Chapman: 26:31Yeah. Well, around the middle of may, things were poodleing along with the numbers very small. Somewhere around the end of May, that started to change, but we're still not in a situation where we have a large number of deaths relative to the population or a large number of people getting sick. There's a certain amount of precautions. People are wearing face masks, but it's business as usual for many, many people.

Kelley Lynch: 27:02The last time we talked, I think you were planning on planning about what to do business wise and with a Tesfa tours and everything else. So how has your planning evolved?

Mark Chapman: 27:16We're not going to have a full business model until September, 2021. We assume my main model is though for the period, let's say October, November, December is going to be to try to stimulate domestic tourism. As wealthy Ethiopians, moderately wealthy Ethiopians and expats who are stuck here for whatever reason, won't really feel able to travel abroad, I'm hoping that we could increase the a mounts of in country travel we get from them. And we can also present it to them, on the one hand, this is a great opportunity to explore your own country. There, I'm particularly thinking about Ethiopians, who haven't been to Lalibela and Gondar and the Simiens. This is a great opportunity for them to see their own country. Of course, that can't really happen until it's the corner i s turned probably on the other side of the rainy season. At the end of September, October, it should be possible to say to people the virus is in retreat. Why not come and visit these places? There's no tourists come and s ee it when it's empty and support your national cultural heritage.

Kelley Lynch: 28:31Speaking of that cultural heritage and , uh, the people who live there, what about your communities? What has happened with them? How are they fairing?

Mark Chapman: 28:45So I was having a chat with somebody in Lalibela. He runs quite a famous restaurant there that's been on BBC , and he's been investing in Airbnb rooms and built a small lodge. So he's struggling. So people like that that are invested in the tourism industry in a big way, are struggling. For our communities, they're not in such a bad situation at this point, because one of the concepts of community tourism was not to make these people totally dependent on tourism, because we always knew something could come up. I mean, we never dreamt of COVID-19, but it Ebola was creating problems in other parts of Africa. And had it got more serious in Kenya and Uganda , it would have impacted tourism more than it did in Ethiopia. We were always suspecting a terrorist case might harm tourism in Ethiopia as well. So, it was important to try to make sure that community tourism didn't mean that these communities were totally dependent for everything on tourism. It's supposed to be an extra income that helps them do other things. And at the moment farming activities are carrying on. Farmers are selling their produce in markets and food is moving around. So traders are buying food from farmers, grain, livestock, and what have you. So I think at least until September, we should be okay, but we I'm planning to try to provide a bit of money to some of the communities who are a little bit more insecure. They haven't had that much tourism. The ones that have had 10 years of solid tourism can weather the storm. The ones that have had, it's been a bit iffy and hasn't been going for so many years. Those will need a little bit more financial support in the coming months,

Kelley Lynch: 30:47Looking forward. Have you had any other thoughts about where tourism might ultimately head as a result of all of this?

Mark Chapman: 30:56As you know, I'm very, very concerned about the global environment, global warming climate change and these issues. And I think these are going to interplay more and more with tourism, which we'll have perhaps two effects, one, it will stop some people traveling. They won't want to take flights. Also it's going to damage their income. So some people won't be able to travel, but those people that do travel, an increasing proportion of them will look to travel in a more sustainable way. I don't see travel stopping at this point. I think people will still want to travel. I was just reading recently some of the reviews from some of the clients over the last year. They've emailed me and said, look , can we do anything to help? The guides, the communities were fantastic. It was a moving experience for us to visit these communities and we want to give something in this difficult time. That reminds me of how important this tourism is. If we can change people's outlook and give people something special from the visits to these communities, it justifies the tourism. It justifies what we're doing in this changing and difficult world.

Kelley Lynch: 32:15So what's, I mean, what's the value of this, that that might make it so much more worthwhile to spend that money and to spend that time and to , to spend that carbon?

Mark Chapman: 32:26A trip to Ethiopia is always going to be special. I think because it's such a different country from, one, what people expect it to be and secondly, from anywhere else in the world. It really does have its own unique place. And then when you go up into the mountains where we've set up these community guest houses and you stay with these local farmers who are some of the poorest people on the planet in GDP terms , in terms of the assets they've got: phones, clothes , houses, tools, cars. But when you stay there as a guest of these farmers and you, you spend a bit of time with them. They're so ready to smile and ready to enjoy the moment and so happy to have you there as their guest. It doesn't feel like an unequal interaction. As a tourist there, you're paying them a reasonable amount of money to get a lovely service and to actually join their lives in some kind of way for a period of days. And for many, many of our guests, this is the highlight of their trip in Ethiopia, despite visits to the Simien national park and a beautiful lodge and the Lalibela churches, which are one of the wonders of the world. Staying with these farmers in this almost, some people describe it as a sort of biblical landscape with the flocks of sheep and herds of cattle and a farmer with a white cotton shawl draped over him. Churches here and there. Markets that they head to. And the rhythm of life is governed by the church and the market and the community events, weddings, and funerals, and other events within the community. And life slows down to that level. I think it connects to how we feel we lived in some kind of a time before all of this stuff that we've got in our lives now that clutters our lives. And it takes us to a place where you can imagine you've thrown out the mobile phone and the laptop and the internet and you're living simply in the hours that the daylight gives you. You go to bed in the evening with a little bit of drumming and little bit of singing and a beer and a good wholesome meal in your stomach. Wake up the next morning to a beautiful dawn. You see gelada baboons. You see a vulture or a lammergeier or an Eagle cruise along on the thermals, and you couldn't want to be anywhere else in the world at that moment. It's very, very special.

Kelley Lynch: 35:14Hearing you describe it. It makes me really miss Ethiopia. Yes, people are materially poor, but so rich in so many other ways, things that we have lost or lost sight of. And like you said, the rhythms of life that's lived within the whole context of a community and the natural world. It's a totally different experience.

Mark Chapman: 35:42That's right. Yeah. And I think at the crossroads that we're at now, where we have to make these decisions about lifestyle to spend some days out there having a detox experience where you realize what's really important. And these people who are really, they don't know how they're going to put food on their table for the next a few months, depending on the time of year, they may be in a shortage. But if they've got food, they'll bring you a handful of beans from the field for you to eat as you walk past. If you drop in at somebody's house, they'll make coffee for you. They don't think as we do, I don't have enough food for my kids and my kids' education and the wedding and the, this, and the, that. That isn't coming into that their equation at all. They're just living for today. And if they've got, they share and everyone shares together. And yes, it's something we need to learn from. And I think that's why it makes it so special and where it really affects the people that come out on these trips. Some of them are completely blown away, but it affects everyone slightly differently, depending on where they are in their own life and how open they are to the experience. It's not forced upon anyone. Some people go through that and their big focus is the trekking. But for most people, they get an awful lot from this community interaction.

Kelley Lynch: 37:05If you're going to spend your money and you're gonna spend your carbon, that's where I would spend it.

Mark Chapman: 37:13Yeah. I think that's how people have got to start thinking now. Whether they're traveling to Ethiopia or some other country, when you go there spend your carbon wisely.

Kelley Lynch: 37:25indeed. I'm really looking forward to hearing that your September through January season, it's a great success. I.

Mark Chapman: 37:38I hope so. Even that's a great thing because we can bring that same spirit we're talking about to the elites in Ethiopia who need it. Some of them are American diaspora Ethiopians and they've come back with a lot of that materialistic idea of life that everyone in the West gets and they don't travel in their own country. They'll prefer to go to Dubai or off to the West. So, this could be a great opportunity to awaken something amongst some of them.

Kelley Lynch: 38:14Fantastic. It's like coronavirus opportunities. They're kind of sprinkled around out there . Not always easy to see it first. I'm glad you found it . Well, Mark, thank you so much. Hey, that was a real pleasure, Kelly . And we'll talk soon. How are you guys?

Cindy Sealls: 38:37Good? How are you doing good. Sound good.

Kelley Lynch: 38:41Tanvir, you're alive?

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 38:42Definitely alive. And as you keep saying, that's a good thing.

Kelley Lynch: 38:49So , I've been going through all of the hours and hours of audio that we've recorded just to fill this slot. And I have to say, I'm trying to find some note of positivity in all of this, and I'm really struggling because there are these strong parallels between how we've handled COVID and how we're handling global warming. Basically, there's this large cohort of people who don't believe in science. The parallel with global warming is clear and that it's like, is the virus even real? We can't even agree on that. And same thing goes for global warming. And then you've got this aspect of preparation and we had time to prepare, but nothing was done. You need government leadership that has been what is missing. That's another parallel.

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 39:58With t he pandemic, all the countries in the world had a t ime that they could actually prepare themselves for this, but they thought this is not going to impact me. Or this is not coming for me. Same thing with the climate change. Everyone is thinking, this is not my problem. It's Bangladesh's problem. People in Europe, people in the US or Western world is thinking, this is a third world problem. Let them deal with it.

Kelley Lynch: 40:26It is coming from the U S as well, whether we believe it or not. And I think we've had a chance to see that during the pandemic, we've been presented with a very clear picture of how fragile many of our systems are, including our food supply. That's something so many of us have seen firsthand during the pandemic. You go to the grocery store and there's nothing on the shelves.

Cindy Sealls: 40:49If you really think deeply About what could happen with global warming, I mean, it panics you and you, you, you know, it's like a situation where somebody comes up to you with a gun and either you freeze or you react. I think a lot of us are frozen.

Kelley Lynch: 41:05I'm really afraid that nobody's going to even be with us still, that everybody's going to have dropped off because this whole thing seems so negative. It's such a downer.

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 41:19Don't lose hope, guys. I'm not the exactly right. Person to talk about the hole , but you're the one who's going to bring hope this time. Yeah. This time it'll be me. I have worked in an environmental project for five years in Bangladesh. I have seen what we have done to the environment. And I have seen the flip side of it as well. When we planted as a reforestation about 1.2 million trees, we saw birds come back, bees come back. And when we protected a patch of the beach, where the rare turtles hatch, they nest and they hatch there. And you know, the joy of seeing them go back to the sea. It's absolutely amazing. And that actually gives us hope because we can destroy it, but we also can protect it. Just look at the lockdown period because of the dust and the pollution, it's been 30 or 40 years since I saw a rainbow in the sky in Dhaka. During this lockdown, we actually had a rainbow, 180 degree rainbow. And the last two months, once we actually woke up, with the sound of the birds. I would say, this is the silver lining.

Kelley Lynch: 43:00You're right. Without hope, what have we got to get up for in the morning?

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir: 43:05And ouf love for this life, that keeps us going.

Cindy Sealls: 43:19Did you know there's another global pandemic that's been going on for thousands of years?

Kelley Lynch: 43:25Thousands? What's that?

Cindy Sealls: 43:27Thousands, tuberculosis,

Kelley Lynch: 43:30Oh man. I had no idea. Tuberculosis was a pandemic.

Cindy Sealls: 43:37Yup. And affects millions of people every year and kills over a million people every year . I just remember that they called it consumption. They would say, what did they die out ? And they died of consumption, but maybe we'll die of a different kind of consumption. It looks like we are going to die of a different type of consumption. But one thing we can consume and it's not going to hurt us, actually, it will help us. And that is if people consume this podcast,

Kelley Lynch: 44:09Bad news, I did read that we are actually contributing to climate change every time you search on a search engine.

Cindy Sealls: 44:20That's why they should subscribe. And they don't have to search pops right into your phone or your computer, your iPad. You're saving the world. They listening to us and saving the world at the same time.

Kelley Lynch: 44:34I know there are major flaws with this logic, but I'm going to go with that because I liked that idea.

Cindy Sealls: 44:40Well, you just said it's when they search.

Kelley Lynch: 44:42Well, you're accessing stuff anyway. I'm not even gonna go there, but you know what I like what you said, you're saving the world every time you listen to our podcast.

Cindy Sealls: 44:54When you listen, when you subscribe, see , there you've got to subscribe and then you don't have to search and you're saving the planet and you're learning something. And hopefully you're sharing us with other folks and you tell them to subscribe so they can save the planet.

Kelley Lynch: 45:12I love it. All right , go do it.