As the year 2021 comes to a close, we have an opportunity to take stock of where Highlands (and the world) was New Year’s eve and where we are today, some 11 months later.
Highlands—and Slowly the World—Is Getting Through It
We have no need to define “it” as it is abundantly clear that the global phenomenon that affected all and spared few was the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of our staff here at Highlands—and their friends and families—were seriously affected by the devastating pandemic. Our hearts go out to those who suffered or—worse yet—lost loved ones.
Nothing quite like it in recent history, employees at Highlands were forced to find new ways to work. The good news so far is that we have managed to stay busy and keep our business moving steadily forward. We figured out ways for our people to be safe and productive in remote offices. It became clear that with the right set of tools—and the right state of mind—we could achieve goals even when physically removed from Highlands’ corporate hub in Noida, India.
In fact, in spite of the pandemic’s global upheaval, we succeeded in releasing a new engineering software product that is certain to have a positive impact around the world. We are just one company, but Highlands is keen to make a difference.
Several vaccines were developed in record time and became available in many parts of the world, well within a year of the initial outbreak—a remarkable feat. World-wide distribution of the vaccine, however, is not what it should be; many poorer populations remain unvaccinated as the citizens of wealthier countries debate the value of booster shots. Without a doubt, the inequities of global vaccine availability need to be remedied.
Awareness of Climate Change and a Call to Action
With each severe weather event that devastates an unprepared community, more people become aware of the crisis that is our changing climate. The disasters that we now frequently witness the world over are unmistakably the product of a warming planet.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2021 climate report was a wake-up call; some 500+ pages of scientific proof of imminent and irreversible climate conditions means more countries—particularly the ones that can afford it—must step up, make tough decisions and sacrifice.
Consider some key findings: There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than there has been in over two million years. Consider that specific weather events—heat waves, rain events, and other severe weather—will become more extreme and catastrophic with each incremental rise in temperature. Consider that due to past emissions, the Arctic ice pack will continue to melt into the future; this is now an irreversible phenomenon that will affect us, our coastal communities, and our way of life well into the future.
Technologies are being developed that offer hope, but on-going investment in carbon-neutral infrastructure is no longer negotiable.
World leaders convene in Scotland in November to discuss the climate crisis. We can no longer remain passive as world citizens. Let’s hope our world leaders don’t either.
World Suffering is Widespread
The number of relief agencies working in the poorest countries of the world has never been higher, but the need for humanitarian assistance has also never been higher. The fact remains that there are tremendous numbers of children and families that are displaced from their countries, living in misery with poor water quality, substandard food reserves and inadequate medical care.
As we take stock of our good luck, let’s not forget that many live desperate lives. Poverty is everywhere…It is across the street, in the next neighborhood, across the border. What can we do—even on a small scale—that improves the quality of life for someone—someone we may not even know?
The Spirit that Keeps Us Moving Forward
In spite of the ups and downs of the past two years, Highlands is lucky. Many companies just didn’t make it. These are the companies that lost customers and revenue and ultimately went bust during the pandemic.
So many businesses are in desperate shape, but our team at Highlands is faring well. We are fortunate to be in a position to create products we can be proud of and that do the world good.
We should always look for ways to share what we know and to help where we can. We help our Highlands teammates, of course, but more importantly, we strive to help the local and global communities of which we are a part.