Climate ChangeCovid-19greenland

Is Covid-19 Mother Nature’s Way of Warning Us to Stop Climate Change?

Covid-19 has shut down borders, air travel, cruise ships, restaurants, bars, traffic on the roads, people from the streets, closed factories and construction jobs, dramatically reducing the use of fossil fuels and global carbon emissions – not only saving lives, but allowing us to breath healthy clean air and see blue skies.

Is this Mother Nature’s way of telling us to Stop Climate Change?

In China, measures to contain Covid-19 in February caused a drop in carbon emissions of an estimated 25 percent. This is the equivalent to 200 million tons of carbon dioxide – more than half the annual emissions of Britain!

This drop is likely to have saved the lives of 4,000 children under the age of 5 and 73,000 adults over the age of 70 according to Marshall Burke, an assistant professor in Stanford University’s Earth System Science Department.

Global demand for oil is seeing its biggest contraction in history by more than 10 million barrels per day.

Carbon dioxide emissions are experiencing their largest fall since World War II as the pandemic brings global economies to a virtual standstill.

“I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 5 per cent or more drop in carbon dioxide emissions this year, something not seen since the end of the second world war,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth System Science Department at Stanford.

We must keep in mind that this drop is not due to any conscious structural change governments have made. It is due solely to Covid-19, forced upon us by Mother Nature.

Scientists have long warned that more  viruses will emerge due to the thawing permafrost, a subject I blogged about last July after visiting Greenland.

In 2005, NASA scientists successfully revived bacteria that had been frozen in an Alaskan pond for 32,000 years.

It is estimated that permafrost holds 1.5 trillion tonnes of carbon, three times the amount that human activity has generated since the Industrial Revolution.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that, even if we cap the world’s temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, 25 percent of the existing permafrost would still melt.

How we respond to the Covid-19 crisis will shape our response to the climate crisis we face. We have to make sure it is not short-lived and evaporates once the pandemic is over.

Hopefully, there will be a Freudian transference from coronavirus to climate virus – that the fear and urgency will shift from the health crisis to the climate crisis, becoming a catalyst for the much-needed climate action to comfort, restrain and relax Mother Nature – and save humanity.

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Illustration: Mark Caparosa

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