Wayland High School Green Team

Covid19: A Silver Lining for the Climate? It’s Only Temporary

Sashwat Das writes about that CO2 emissions have dropped since the Covid-19 lockdown. Unfortunately, he explains, these improvements, while giving us a glimpse of how life could be, are only temporary.

At a time when the assault of negativity and fear from the media is the focus of our lives, it’s good to look at the silver linings of the situation. Cooped up in our houses today only hearing about the deaths and alarming circumstances around the world makes it hard to be positive, but reading the occasional article about the bright side makes me have a more positive outlook on the future. So, here’s that little speck of brightness that will hopefully brighten someone’s day, and incite hope where helplessness is overwhelming while also rallying people to action in a confusing time.

In past years, climate change and taking action upon it has been at the forefront of our minds. With the recent Covid- 19 outbreak, this has sadly been pushed to the back, but there is good news. This outbreak, although wreaking havoc on modern society, has been one of the best short term solutions to slow down climate change. Besides that, times like these bring out the best in people. Restaurants all over the country are preparing meals for those without food, completely on a volunteering basis. Moving back to the environment there has been some indisputable good news all over the world. The animals are taking back their rightfully owned land. In an article by CNBC, Thailand and Japan, now devoid of tourists, have mobs of monkeys and deers roaming the streets, finally able to live freely without fear of endangerment by us humans. Venice’s famously dirty canals are now clear with sediment settling without boat traffic. This has led to more sightings of the famous Venice dolphins and swans reclaiming their waterways. In other water news, Blue Whales, climate change fighting superheroes, have seen a stark increase in population. Blue whales dispose of many tons of carbon per year in the ocean, and them being an endangered species has put many in panic mode, but due to lack of pollution, the already increasing population is likely to skyrocket even more. Sightings have increased to 55 this year a 5500% increase from four decades ago.

Moving above sea level, we have seen a very blunt but very welcome decrease in carbon emission levels all over the world. With much of the globe now on lockdown, transportation has been limited, with a fraction of flights and millions of fewer cars on the road we have seen an amazing decrease in carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. New York's carbon monoxide emissions have dropped around 50 percent and carbon dioxide, around seven percent. There was also a significant drop in methane gas. Countries like China and India being at the top of the list in emissions have been put in lockdown helping the cause. China has reported a 25% decrease in emissions over the course of this pandemic, and India is likely to follow with their 1.3 billion person country being put on lockdown. Amazing things have happened all over the world to give us a silver lining to a bleak situation, but even to this, there is a downside that should be taken as a call to action.

With just a couple months of reform, we have seen amazing results, but sadly these will not continue past the pandemic; they are short term. With the economic collapse in many countries, many are calling to pull out money from green reform. The International Energy Agency, or IEA, has warned that this pandemic will slow global investments in clean energy and environmental conservation. This means less green energy and more fossil fuel. Countries have put economic interest at the forefront of their minds, a very logical decision, but it should not come at the price of environmental injustice. Countries should use this set back as a time to work on their countries GNH, gross national happiness. This not only includes economic factors but also environmental educational and overall living standards. Countries have panicked because of the outbreak and going back to their old 20th-century selves. The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic urged the EU to abandon the green law which focused on carbon neutrality so they could spend more money on the economy. Governments drive over 70 percent for global energy investments, without which the clean energy sector could completely disappear. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has already announced as of March, 26th they will relax enforcement of environmental regulations and fines indefinitely, due to the Covid- 19 outbreak. Airlines taking a big hit have asked Trump for government subsidies to help them stay afloat. Requests for millions of dollars have been entertained by the government money which comes from the average taxpayer. These same airlines are expected to quadruple emissions by 2050. It is not an economic over environmental world; instead, it should be quite the opposite or at least a world where they can grow together. Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University and chair of the Global Carbon Project, said companies are likely to delay or cancel climate-friendly projects.

The virus has shown us how much good a little reform can do; so now, it is our job to continue that reform. Doing so would be harder than ever, but right now it is more necessary than ever. Not only have we been able to see the resilience of nature through these hard times, but we’ve also come closer to nature and been able to see what is really valuable to us. Not these big companies, billionaires, or politicians, but mother earth and our homes. They are dying and we need to fight for them.


Cited Sources: CNBC

Carbon

WSPN

New York Data