Earth Day in an epidemic: What will happen to the Earth when humans slow down?

By Danyang Yuan

    At the beginning of this year, the Australian bushfire that burned for more than four months was finally extinguished. Nearly 6 million hectares of woodland were burned, and nearly 500 million animals were buried in flames. In front of nature, human beings are vulnerable. Fortunately, however, after the blazing fire, Australia’s burnt plants began to grow again.

    For millions of years, humans seem to have been looking for a way to live in harmony with the earth. Destruction, governance, protection — can we only meet the creatures on earth in this way?

    This pandemic has undoubtedly brought pain and bruising for human beings. Every unprepared farewell is a long and painful affair for the individual involved in it. However, for nature, some good things are happening in light of these dark times.

    On the streets of Adelaide, Australia, there is a kangaroo jumping freely on the streets of the city center. In Italy, a jellyfish was found in a canal in Venice. Due to the reduction in the flow of ships, the water became clearer and more transparent, and it was easier to observe marine life even in the city center. Llandudno, a small town in North Wales, England, adopted blockade measures and the empty streets were occupied by flocks of wild goats. And wild coyotes hang out on the San Francisco beach.

The World Meteorological Organization said that due to the pandemic, global carbon dioxide emissions fell by 6% this year, but this is not enough to suppress global warming.

    In 2018, Eastern cougars were officially declared extinct. In 2019, the last Achatinella Apexfulva died. In 2020, the Yangtze fauna declared extinction. The reality is cruel. Those species that had escaped countless changes over millions of years have become extinct because of human activities. And these things are happening around us.  

Although COVID-19 does improve our living environment in the short term, when the pandemic ends and human life returns to normal, we will use some chemical fuels and emit car exhaust, causing air pollution. It is important to realize the effect the day-to-day life we once took for granted impacts the environment. 

As Bruce Vaughn, the climatologist of the University of Colorado Boulder, said: “It’s a great time to take stock of how our daily lives and our actions really do impact the environment we live in. We’re all in this together. We all share the same nest. And I think that’s one thing this pandemic may be showing us is that our actions do impact one another.”

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