In these difficult times it may be odd to think about the environment and coronavirus – the global pandemic that has shut down most of the world as we know it. That being said, the impacts the pandemic has had on the capitalist system has given the natural world a respite. Global flights and air pollution has decreased, animals are benefiting and individuals are reconnecting with the environment. It’s shown an alternative world, one where nature will recover. It has given people a renewed sense of hope in the battler against climate change. In light of this, we have collated some of the latest reports and stories from around the world that show how nature has recovered while the capitalist system has not been able to operate at its usual pace. We hope you enjoy them.
1. Global Air Pollution Decrease
It has been widely reported that since the pandemic started air pollution has decreased. This has happened at both the local and global level with travel restrictions in place all over and individuals being warned not to travel. The following stories are particularly useful in seeing the effects of this:
- The Guardian produced a very good comparative piece showing the effects of lower air pollution around the world compared to this time in 2019. It specifically looks at China, Italy, South Korea and the UK.
- The Guardian also produced a detailed analysis of the drop in air pollution in the UK. It looks at PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide and ozone levels around the bigger towns and cities in the UK.
- The Independent have reported that the coronavirus is expected to contribute solely to the biggest drop in carbon dioxide emissions for over 70 years. It expects emissions to drop by 5%!!
While decreases in air pollution are welcome, it is expected they will return to normal levels over time. This should be worrying to a lot of people. Early reports are suggesting that the higher death toll in Italy is related to years of higher air pollution. Air pollution levels are already reported to be rebounding in China, who have started to return to normal life. Without a change to cleaner energy production we will find ourselves in the same position we were in before as countries look to restart their economies.
2. Clearer and Cleaner Waters
Another result of travel restrictions has been that rivers, oceans and other bodies of water have had a chance to recover slightly and where they once looked to be dirty, they now run clear. The following stories show this impact around the world:
- The most popular story of this kind was reported in the canals of Venice where due to the lack of boats, sediment has settled showing crystal clear water for the first time that people can remember.
- In India the Ganges river has also become clearer and cleaner as reported by the BBC.
3. Animals Have Returned
Animals have also benefited from human social distancing measures and with places less populated, have made the most of empty streets, cities and towns:
- In Barcelona, boars have left the mountainside and have taken to the streets as shown in this video:
Coronavirus in Catalonia — Boars descend from the mountains to the very center of Barcelona, after several days of people being locked at homepic.twitter.com/6IRFzl2cKz— Alfons López Tena (@alfonslopeztena) March 19, 2020
- In Wales, goats descended on a small town and effectively took over as reported by the BBC. They spent their time there eating plants and flowers from people’s gardens.
- In Thailand, monkeys have taken over roads and streets and are fighting for food as the decrease in tourism has impacted how they get food:
Unfortunately, it has not all be good news for animals in light of the coronavirus pandemic. For instances, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo has been tested positive for COVID-19. While another zoo in Berlin has admitted it may have to feed animals to each other to survive.
What Next for the Environment and Coronavirus?
The true relationship between the environment and coronavirus needs to be explored further. However, it presents an opportunity to create a greener future. It is a chance we may not get again. Green energy could help economies recover with a $1 trillion boost but more importantly, a switch to green methods would see nature and humankind as equals that can be enjoyed by everyone, every animal and every environment. There may not ever be a better opportunity to save the planet from the devastating impacts of climate change.
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