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The Week mag touts impact of coronavirus as a ‘win for the environment’ – ‘A significant reduction of…carbon footprints’

Coronavirus is an environmental wake-up call

By Madhvi Ramani – The Week

At the moment, the biggest threats to the delicate balance that makes this planet habitable are human-caused climate change and the destruction of biodiversity. Scientists agree that if individuals, businesses, and governments don’t take significant action within the next decade to curb emissions, the damage will be catastrophic. Already, the effects to the natural world are massive and deadly, including infectious disease transmission patterns. But where scientists and popular movements have thus far failed to convince the world to act, it seems that Mother Earth may have succeeded, with the never-before-seen COVID-19 virus.

The novel coronavirus is estimated to have curbed carbon dioxide emissions in China by a quarter. More than 80,000 people in one of the world’s biggest industrial polluters have been infected, causing refineries and factories to shut down, and slowing construction activities. This temporary reduction is by no means insignificant. As The New York Times reported, the three-week decline equals about 150 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — roughly the amount that New York produces in an entire year…

It’s not just air travel. People are canceling cruise trips after 3,711 passengers and crew members were quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess off the coast of Japan due to the virus. Another win for the environment, since people on a seven-day cruise produce roughly the same carbon footprint as they would during 18 days on land, not to mention the damage that ships wreak on fragile ocean ecosystems. Even getting into a car and going to a restaurant, shopping mall, or concert poses a risk of infection, which means that many people are choosing to stay at home and consuming less, resulting in a significant reduction of their carbon footprints. This year started with much discussion about sustainable travel and many public figures pledging not to fly, such as Australian Yael Stone. In the end, though, nothing is more sustainable than not to traveling at all.

The deaths of thousands of people worldwide should also serve as a lasting reminder of the precious fragility of life…Only in the face of suffering and death are we forced to view the bigger, longer-term perspective — and this is what is needed in order to react appropriately to climate change…

The current epidemic shows us that we are completely unprepared to deal with future outbreaks of diseases that will occur as a result of climate change. Not only will climate change increase the number of diseases passed from animals to humans due to changing boundaries of habitats and decreased biodiversity, but the melting ice and permafrost are releasing long dormant bacteria and viruses, like anthrax.

The novel coronavirus has sent alarm bells ringing throughout the world. It’s time for us to wake up, listen to the primordial Earth goddess Gaia, and act.