We have been awestruck, dumbfounded and terrified by the way a “simple” virus has been attacking the humans, which first broke out in Wuhan, a city in Hubei province of China, around December 2019
Saying it “simple” because we never pondered we would be needing protection from a virus in such a huge scale. We were worried about things much bigger, like the nuclear weapons and the stock market falls, but never in our wildest dream did we think a virus could do much massive harm to humanity. In the last four months, the virus has spread to more than 180 countries and territories, and have taken over 70,000 lives.
Still, I would say that “The virus has helped Earth with clean air and water, among other benefits”.Being indoors has made us all realize just how great and the great outdoors are. And perhaps this Earth Day, how we should be a little kinder to our home planet Earth. Here’s how you staying at home during the coronavirus is making our planet heal:
- carbon output could fall by more than 5% this year – the first run since a 1.4% reduction after the 2008 financial crisis.
- Not only is the air cleaner, it’s quieter and calmed too. The lack of public transport, people on the road and rush hour commute means that our ears aren’t getting better, we are just hearing a lot more than before. From the rustling of leaves to the chirping of birds, decibel levels have amazingly dropped. Decibel readings at a busy intersection were 90 before pandemic but recently measured at just 68.
- The water quality has improved itself as well. In Venice, famous for its canals, waterways are benefiting from the lessening of usual boat traffic brought on by thousands of visitors. In India, to pictures of a cleaner River Ganga, as well as Varanasi, have appeared.
- From the otters in Singapore to the goats in Wales and deer in Japan to the orcas in North America, while we may have lockdown restrictions, wildlife has been using this lack of human spreading to venture out of their own territories safely.
Now if we look forward to the world we see a better place. But excluding the pandemic effect how has nature improved itself? Let’s take a look!
As scoring temperatures continue to break records across Europe, unpredicted wildfires break out in the Arctic, and polar sea ice cover drops—again—to an all-time low, never before has the climate crisis been so palpable, for so many people.
The increasing intensity and frequency of climate extremes impacts life on earth in huge number. Ocean and terrestrial ecosystems, which we all depend on, are equally damaged, as is our planet’s capacity to sustain our growing needs.
But just as climate extremes exacerbate land degradation processes across the globe, “Sustainable land management can contribute to reducing the negative impacts of multiple stressors, including climate change, on ecosystems and humanities”. Several solutions can be used to provide some relief in the short, medium and long term.
Agriculture, forestry, and other land use account for 24% of greenhouse gas emissions, as per the Panel’s 2014 Fifth Assessment Report. Agroforestry, reforestation, and afforestation programs, especially in tropical regions, can go a long way towards reducing land degradation and act as carbon sinks, thereby both mitigating and helping ecosystems cope with a changing climate. These nature-based solutions, which feature a holistic approach to land use by leveraging the existing resources nature has in stock, allowing us to make use of the planet’s intrinsic restorative capacity.
Similarly, a warmer climate is associated with higher greenhouse gas emissions through permafrost thawing and deforestation, among others, so protecting and reserving peatlands and other vulnerable carbon sinks is critical to slowing the release of greenhouse gases from these natural sources. The more we wait, the more severe the risks.
Current levels of global warming are magnified by increased water scarcity, soil erosion, vegetation loss, wildfire damage, permafrost thawing, coastal degradation and crop yield declines, says the report.
As governments take note and communities, international organizations, and agribusiness act to implement society-wide transformation to rapidly shift to sustainable food production and land use, we, as individuals also need to do our part.
With a staggering 25 to 30% of food produced being lost or wasted, better post-harvest practices, storage, transportation and consumer education are needed to address food waste.
There are other ways individuals can do their part: through everyday choices, we can contribute to reduce our extra use of water, switch to a more sustainable diet based on plants and reduce our consumption of non-reusable, toxic products, such as single-use plastics that are choking and polluting the planet’s ecosystems and circle.
There will be no silver bullet to solve this man-made tragedy, but there is hope in that, by acting fast and at all levels of society, we will be able to get back at least part of the unfolding disaster.
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