EARTH: I NEED A BREAK
April 8, 2020, 5:35 pm
Firstly, and to get it strictly out of the way, no this piece is not meant to seek the silver lining in the circumstances enforced by the novel coronavirus, nor is it meant to be celebrating the positive impacts of the byproducts of this global pandemic. There is no upside to situations that put human’s livelihoods at risk. However, this piece states mere facts, shedding light, at phenomena accompanying the global slowdown prescribed by COVID-19. It is almost as if our planet earth was calling out timeout. However, more importantly, to trigger thoughts on the world we want post-corona.
Nowadays, have you felt the air just a bit cleaner? Heard the birds just a bit louder? Yes, it could partially be because you are probably on lockdown. But that’s not all. From crystal clear waters in the canals of Venice to dramatic falls in pollution levels in major cities, the coronavirus pandemic has had a number of positive effects on the environment. According to Nasa, Earth’s ozone layer appears to be recovering. Apparently, there has been 25% reduction in emissions globally in the month of February. According to the European Space Agency, China experiences 40% reduction in pollution, estimated to have saved the lives of approximately 77 thousand lives in the country. Climate scientists have gone as far as run simulations on state of climate in 2030, if the emissions status quo remain. Yes, we would be able to achieve the Paris Agreement target, possibly avoiding disastrous climate change implications.
The current status quo is intolerable, unacceptable, and reflecting on human history, we are bound to bounce back, strong, together. That being said, it is critical for humanity to be aware of the way forward, post-corona. Strictly for the effort of thought provocation intended by this piece, I will attempt to paint the picture with analogy of a fasting Muslim. Let us name him “Ahmed”, representing the population of the world, who has been fasting for a month, and has lost some extra weight. The choice of the world on which scenario to follow, will determine the faith of generations to come.
After a month, Ahmed’s cravings are through the roof, and is static to go back to his daily routines and luxuries. In fact, he feels the need to compensate, so he works harder, orders more than he can eat, shops more, and travels further. In just a few weeks after the month, Ahmed has gained back all the weight he lost, and some more, jeopardizing his health once again. It has only been few days since China has eased its lockdown regulations, and Forbes has already noted “Massive Uptake in Activity”. The same is expected across the globe. Resulting in global emissions, not only bouncing back, but probably reaching new unseen highs. As likely as this is, the consequences of such a scenario would be far worse than hosting a traditional iftar midst a viral pandemic.
Scenario 2: (obviously recommended!)
After a month, Ahmed is fully aware that the weight he has lost was unhealthy, and how he has a better understanding to the struggles of the poor. Fasting has made him see the flaws in all his previous ways. Ahmed decides that he is going to moderately improve the quality of the food he eats, donate more to those in need, and be an overall more conscious consumer. Given the scale of financial market losses the world is seeing, companies come out determined to build a far more resilient economy. The result could be a dramatic new stage in global capitalism, in which supply chains are brought closer to home. Ushering in a new category of conscious consumers, namely “prosumers”. Everyone is aware of the impact they had on the planet, and are willing to give up unfulfilling luxuries. Emission reductions during this pandemic stay down, and future generations, maybe, just maybe, have a chance!