The Climate Is Recovering, But Is It Only Temporary?
By Divya Kaliappan, Year 10 Journalist Leader
With over half of humanity under lockdown, it’s hard to imagine that anything good has come from quarantine, but the environmental changes throughout the world have all been beneficial towards the climate crisis.
It wasn’t long ago that we were told there was only a mere twelve years to save the planet before the damage became irreversible. However, due to the pandemic, the environmental changes have been seen from space and even felt from us as fresher air has once again surfaced. As planes stopped flying, factories closed down and roads became deserted, the pollution levels over all cities and countries have significantly dropped with visible results on only the first week of lockdown. Since then, many countries including France, Italy, China and the UK have been experiencing significant drops in nitrogen and carbon dioxide levels. Major cities in Europe including Paris, Milan and Madrid have seen a fifty percent drop in nitrogen levels according to scientists from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. The overall human carbon footprint on the earth has considerably lightened. In the UK, air traffic has halved in comparison to last year and road traffic has fallen by 70%. The earth is seeing minimal human motion, reminding us of a time where cars and mobile phones were an idea in the realm of science fiction. Many ecologists are taking this time to reflect and consider how similar life now will be to life with no fossil fuels.
However, this is most definitely not a full stop to the climate change crisis, as in order to keep our earth safe and habitable for future generations to come, we cannot only rely on the short term effect but also on the decisions made by the higher officials and the government.
There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration and one of them is the usage of fossil fuels. It is estimated we will exhaust our fossil fuels by 2060, meaning all things powered by fossil fuels will have to be remade to adapt to the new conditions. An example of this can be seen with the pressing demand on electric cars. It is highly recommended to buy an electric car as cars powered by petrol have a higher car tax. The world economy is slowly trying to adjust for the inevitable.
Another advantage the environment has faces during lockdown is the preservation of wildlife and biodiversity. With empty motorways, the roadkill count is significantly low in comparison to last year and the year before which annually takes the lives of around 50,000 badgers and 100,000 hedgehogs. Many councils have held back the cutting of grass on the roadside to preserve habitats of flowers and plants which provide more pollen for bees. Many species have been detected roaming the streets of cities once again, such as coyotes in San Francisco, deer in washington and wild boar in Barcelona.
The pandemic has brought to light what was pushed away into the corner. The urgent climate crisis has finally got the complete recognition that it desperately needed if we want a habitable earth. UN leaders, activists and scientists are demanding a public debate to cleanse the earth and focus on greener jobs, sustainable companies and natural infrastructure.
As the pandemic has gifted us focus and time to figure out a next step, it really does depend on whether or not it wins the political battle, as the only thing that will make a difference is if the higher decisions are turned from debate into law.