The ecological effects of the coronavirus-driven global economic slowdown seem weirdly hopeful, as smog decreases over major cities and reports of resurgent animal life inspire positive social-media messages.
Whether these changes are lasting, meaningful — or even real — is another question altogether.
Amidst the hype and hope, the ultimate intersectional issue — the world’s water crisis — has implications for coronavirus prevention and climate change alike.
Sort of good for climate change
Is the novel coronavirus helping in the fight against global warming? Maybe not, say some climate scientists.
While the slowdown in transportation and industrial production is cleaning up the skies and reducing greenhouse gases over metropolitan regions such as New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, this is likely to be offset by greater energy production.
“Electricity has not gone away, the internet is still going strong, and power generation is a third of the carbon emissions,” says Gavin Schmidt, who directs the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA.
And as economies start back up again in the coming months and years, it’ll be back to business as usual in the smog capitals of the world.
Source: Vice News
Fake news about animals
You may have seen posts about swans and dolphins swimming in the waters of Venetian canals that are running clear following the coronavirus-driven shutdown of the Italian economy.
Too bad it’s all bogus.
The swans have always swum in those canals, it seems, and the dolphins were filmed in a port on Sardinia far from fabled Venice.
Elsewhere, however, there are real effects on animal populations resulting from the viral health and economic crisis.
In Thailand, monkeys that thrived on food handed out by tourists are growing hungry and quarrelsome. In Japan, deer from Nara Park are wandering nearby city streets in search of the rice crackers that park visitors used to feed them.
In both places, tour buses have all stopped showing up, and so have the tourists.
Sources: National Geographic, New York Times
Why the water crisis makes everything else worse
In a bitter complement to the viral pandemic is the world’s water crisis.
Billions of people worldwide — at least half the global population — do not have access to safe or sufficient water to live healthy lives. This includes access to drinking water — and also clean water to wash hands with, in order to stem the coronavirus tide.
In fact, up to 90 percent of the world’s wastewater — produced in factories, farms and homes — is untreated.
In addition to the dire effects this has on human life, it also contributes between 3 and 7 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gases — even more than the airline industry.
More effective treatment of carbon-emitting sewage would not only reduce emissions, it could also be a source for clean energy, in the form of the natural gas methane.
Source: The Guardian