WORLD EARTH DAY
And the one positive of coronovirus
This week, we’re taking a step away from the horrors of coronavirus headlines to feel a little bit positive about the bigger picture.
Wednesday April 22nd marked the 50th anniversary of World Earth Day, a global event that unites millions to highlight the huge challenges facing our planet. And for once, there are signs of hope for our environment.
As humanity presses pause on daily life, the social restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, have given nature an unprecedented opportunity to breathe out.
“This isn’t the way we would’ve wanted things to happen, God no,” said Gina McCarthy, former head of the US Environmental Protection Agency in the Obama administration. “This is just a disaster that pointed out the underlying challenges we face.”
As flights are grounded, consumers and car drivers stay home and factories stand silent, we are seeing cleaner air, clearer water, and bolder wildlife return to built-up areas. So, take a moment to reflect on 10 stories that made us happy this month:
- The waters of Venice are now clear, offering locals clear views of shoals of small fish, crabs and colourful plant-life in the Lagoon for the first time in decades. Venetians say they feel “nature has returned and is taking back possession of the city”.
- Lions lounge on roads normally frequented by safari-goers in South Africa and bears and coyotes wander around empty accommodation in Yosemite national park in California.
- In Barcelona, boars have been spotted snuffling and trotting along the city’s normally busy, traffic filled avenues.
- In Santiago, Chile a wild puma was captured after venturing down into the deserted capital from nearby surrounding hills. “This is the habitat they once had and that we’ve taken away from them” said Marcelo Giagnoni, Director of a Santiago based agricultural and livestock service.
- In North America, Orcas have grown bold, encouraged to explore by humans’ momentary lack of presence, with locals spotting the majestic creatures closer to shore.
- Citizens in Northern India are seeing the view of the Himalayan mountain range for the first time in their lives, due to the drop in air pollution. Residents of Jalandhar in northern Punjab have shared pictures of the mountains from rooftops and empty streets, amazed by the view which has been hidden by pollution for 30 years.
- London and European cities including Paris, Madrid and Milan have all seen a dramatic reduction in average levels of nitrogen dioxide from March 14-25, compared with the same period last year, according to new satellite images.
- There has been a significant reduction in greenhouse gases worldwide. In China, Carbon Brief reported that carbon emissions fell by around 25% over a four-week period at the beginning of this year as authorities closed factories and people were instructed to stay home. In the European Union, declining power demands and a decrease in manufacturing could cause emissions to fall by nearly 400 m metric tonnes this year, (Source; preliminary forecast reported in National Geographic).
- A drop in air pollution was first observed by NASA in China’s Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak began in December. “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” Fei Liu, of NASA’s Goddard space flight
- It’s thought that wild flowers could bloom in their greatest number for years throughout the UK this Summer according to research released by conservation charity Plantlife. Trevor Dines, Plantlife’s Botanical Specialist said this has the potential: “to benefit wild plants and the bees, butterflies, birds, bats and bugs that depend on them for survival.”
Across the world, the lockdowns may just be showing us how quickly the natural world around us can adapt and thrive in our absence when given some space, but conservationists warn that returning the world to its pre-pandemic settings will quickly wipe out any environmental benefits of the shutdown.
A Wake Up Call:
“It’s a serious wake-up call,” said Thomas Lovejoy, an ecologist who coined the term “biological diversity”.
Michael Gerrard, an environmental law expert at Columbia University said: “This has been the lost message on climate, that it’s a human problem, not a planetary problem”.
Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme said this month; “We are intimately interconnected with nature, whether we like it or not. If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves. And as we hurtle towards a population of 10 billion people on this planet, we need to go into this future armed with nature as our strongest ally”.
How people react after the pandemic will help define the crises racking the environment and the message on World Earth Day is that we must seize this window of opportunity and we must not lose momentum.
Anton Lazarus of the European Environmental Bureau says: “The corona crisis cannot be allowed to slow down action to tackle climate and ecological crises.”
After this immediate health crisis the world will face a choice. Emissions could come roaring back – as they did post the 2008 global financial crisis – if nations lean heavily on old, dirty energy sources. We need to work with nature more than ever, and see that for life on Earth to flourish we need to work with our environment.
Richard Deverell, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew said today: “Looking ahead, there are opportunities emerging from this pandemic… We must cease being the enemy of nature, and instead become its friend.”
At WM Spirits we feel that it’s important we all do our bit.
As a business, we are concerned by the threats posed by Climate Change and believe we have a responsibility to be sustainable, which is why we try to ensure all our packaging is 100% recyclable and we are working towards becoming carbon neutral.
In 2020 we launch a Save The Bees clothing range, made of 100% organic cotton, including caps, t-shirts, hoodies, and jumpers. Learn more about the ethically sourced materials we used to make our Save the Bees apparel here: Earth Positive. A percentage of all sales will go to The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust, an organisation based in Cornwall.
We hope you’ll join us to celebrate World Earth Day and help us support this British charity in doing their bit to save our bees.
Find out exactly where your money is going, with more information about this conservation project available here: The Fowey Project.
Celebrate World Earth Day every day of the year. Drink sustainably. Drink PURE.
Try PURE for yourself.