By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
Every week, Earth is facing new challenges amidst fast-changing and widespread pandemic that has put the majority of the world on a lockdown. This is all very new to us — the concept of being sent back into our respective homes, and being told not to leave, to pause our daily life, to pause what we would typically do, whether it’s gym or a group activity, school or dining out. We all have, essentially, more time than ever before — and that’s not because we are stopping work completely, but rather – all other areas of our daily life have been suspended ‘until further notice.’
This unique nature of our global pause has resulted in an ecological reset — or to put it simply, the Earth itself is kind of in a ‘recovery mode’ — ‘nature has set the reset button’ is another sentiment being shared. This unprecedented global lockdown, scenes worthy of a Disney film have emerged; from swans gliding through the now-clear canals of Venice to blue skies over China where the air is usually choked with smog.
In China – the world’s biggest polluter – the actions taken by authorities have demonstrated that huge 25% carbon dioxide cuts can bring less traffic and cleaner air with only a small reduction in economic growth, according to a study by Carbon Brief. Nasa’s satellites have captured a dramatic drop-off in pollution over the major Chinese cities where factories have been powered down and vehicle traffic ground to a halt.
Italy’s lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic is not only keeping people safe, but it’s giving the outdoors — which is typically flooded with tourists — a chance to recharge.
In photos posted online, ‘Venezia Pulita’ which translates to ‘Clean Venice,’ showed the city’s water looking the cleanest it has for years — and it’s already encouraging marine life to return.
In Hong Kong, air quality has also improved since the city entered partial shutdown mode to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Key air pollutants dropped by nearly a third from January to February. Locals described it as a chance for the natural elements of Earth to ‘take a breath’.
If this trend continues, analysts say it is possible this will lead to the first fall in global emissions since the 2008-09 financial crises — which would be a hugely positive environmental impact amid an array of negative developments.
Even a slowdown in CO2 could buy time for climate action and, more importantly, inspire long-term behavioural changes — particularly in travel.
What this pandemic shows us shouldn’t be the environmental harm we humans cause. Instead, it shows just how quickly, if we were to change and adapt sustainable practices, we would see the positive effects on our planet.
The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health. Instagram handle: @Ghanim92
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