MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD: In the past weeks we have actually read about some positive environmental outcomes resulting from the COVID-19 quarantine. Media have reported on the presence of animal species in unusual places, mostly urban settings. A black bear has been sighted in the city where I live, only thirty miles from Washington, DC.
This is but an example of what is happening elsewhere. Bears, jackals, wild boars, cougars, Oh My!
I have also seen birds in my backyard that I have not seen for years. They appear to be rejoicing from the absence of people and vehicles. Aquatic life has returned to the Venice Canals.
Videp by Marco Capovilla / Venezia Pulita
More importantly, the level of carbon dioxide and other climate-change gases has been measured at a lower concentration in the atmosphere. This means that we at least will get a temporary time extension of damages that are predicted from climate change.
— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) March 4, 2020
Humans systematic destruction of the environment
With the advent of the industrial revolution and the adaptation of fossil fuels to run industries, commerce, our homes and transportation, large amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases have been released. These gases were also released by wildfires, volcanoes, and other processes, in geological times.
Carbon dioxide is a stable gas that will escape into the upper zones of the atmosphere. As the sun heats the earth and is reflected, carbon dioxide and other gases regulate the temperature of the planet. As the concentration of these gases increases, more and more heat is prevented from escaping. This is a simplistic model of the phenomenon; other natural systems influence the effects.
Weather, the concentration of particles in the air, volcanic eruptions, and desertification are but a few systems that influence the effects of global warming. Some of these systems may temporarily reduce or increase the effect and they are in turn affected by global warming.
The complexity of natural systems and especially those controlling global warming makes them difficult to grasp and predict. This has led to a very robust movement against the dire predictions of climate change. Deniers claim that it is not real and some even claim that it is a hoax perpetrated by an environmental extremist.
Others admit that it may be real, but that we will find a way to solve it without having to change our fossil fuel addiction. There are even some that claim that humans are not in charge and that only God will decide the outcome,
So, what are some of these dire consequences that “radical environmentalists” want us to believe?
The melting of large iced surfaces and water expansion that will raise ocean levels and flood many urban areas. In fact, documentation from around the world shows;
- Extreme weather episodes;
- Loss of animal species;
- Increase of contagious diseases as vectors migrate to previously colder zones;
- Disruptions in our farming practices and production.
- Energy and the environment: An inseparable pair
We have seen instances of all these recently. These are only direct consequences. Secondary ones like wars and famine caused by the primary ones are predictable.
How can we continue our positive environmental policies post COVID-19 quarantine
Unless governments act, the media reports accurately, and citizens curtail their fossil fuel addiction, we are in for a lot of pain. However, the common citizen can reduce his “carbon footprint”. This translates into producing less carbon in our common lives.
How can we curtail our environmental carbon footprint?
- Walk or ride a bike instead of driving. Ride in a carpool or public transportation instead of driving. Use an electrical or hybrid car if you must drive;
- Re-purpose, reuse, and recycle. Stay away for single-use plastics;
- Reduce your consumption of meat. It takes ten pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat;
- Insulate your home and if possible, install solar panels;
- Chose to get your electricity from renewable sources;
- Look at this resource for many more suggestions.
- COVID-19 has changed so much of daily life.
Now is the perfect time to adopt new habits that continue to help the environment as life goes back to normal.
Right! No one is perfect. Try those above that fit your way of life, maybe with a small sacrifice.