Amid a pandemic that is disrupting our world in ways we never imagined possible a few months ago, it is important to focus on any positives. One of the silver-linings of this industry-stopping crisis is that, while most of the world remains under stay-at-home orders, the planet is getting to take a quick breath. Today the sky is a perfect blue, devoid of the usual white contrails of passing planes and the birds are singing loudly outside the window.
The sudden and dramatic stopping of the majority of industrial activity has resulted in an equally dramatic reduction in pollution levels all over the world. With most of us working from home and many large industries shuttered, the highways are empty of cars, the skies are brighter, and the air quality has improved. This phenomenon is producing incredibly clear skies above cities like Beijing, Mumbai, LA, and Paris. In Italy, one of the hardest-hit nations in this pandemic, the lack of tourists means the gondola-filled canals of Venice are cleaner than they have been in living memory. Locals have also spotted rarely seen fish inhabiting the canals again.
We do not kid ourselves that this pandemic is somehow fixing the climate crisis, but it is at least giving the planet a small break from the impact of the intense human industry we have built up over the last hundred years. Equally important, it is offering us a chance to gain a new perspective on the importance of our health and that of our planet. One surprising upshot of life under stay-at-home orders is that we are all noticing nature again. People are making the most of any chance to be outside in wide-open spaces where we can walk while keeping a safe social distance. We hear the birds singing more clearly now without the noise of traffic. We have slowed down and started noticing the world around us. The air smells fresher, and the skies are brighter. In the midst of this disaster, we look outside, and we finally see our world.
It is almost as if our planet has been patiently waiting for us to notice it, and this crisis is allowing us the time to stop and smell the roses. We are noticing more of the things that really matter, our health and safety, and those of our loved ones. As we look around our communities, we feel a new care for the health of those living in our towns and cities, and we concern ourselves with our health as a nation and a race.
When this crisis is finally over, we hope that we will remember the days when the skies were bluer, the bird songs louder, and we took the time to notice the blossoms on the trees. As we rebuild from this economic and social shock, it is our chance to reimagine a healthier world and a future where economic decisions are made by also considering the impact on our health and that of our planet.
This virus has given us a shared sense of humanity in facing a common threat. We believe this new-found solidarity can also give us a new perspective on our world’s problems and challenges and how we can work to solve them; together. May we emerge from this crisis with this renewed sense of humanity intact. And, may we move forward with a common goal to protect the future health and well-being of our planet and all who dwell on it.
You may say I’ a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.– John Lennon