Unraveling Our Fragile Future
2020, the year of symmetry, prospects and plans has taken a very sombre turn. From lockdowns to social distancing and self-isolation - the world as we know it has changed. Unpredicted and unprecedented, our lives are on hold as we wait for the future to unfold. Living through a pandemic that will make the history books, we continue along our path of ambiguousness, unsure of what the following months will bring.
The pandemic has shaken us all, making us appreciate the smallest of luxuries. What was once an effortless ordeal of going to see friends or doing the daily shopping, is no longer effortless, with spontaneity being something of the past. However, what is amazing to consider, is how the world comes together in times of crisis, how a divided nation can instantly unite in times of sadness and uncertainty, and the resilience of the human race to try to adapt and continue with the whole world put on pause.
Meanwhile, as our freedom is cut short, the environment around us is given a chance it’s never had; a momental pause from human behaviour. We are living through what seems to be the world’s largest experiment which has seen vast tragedy for humanity, we are also witnessing moments of beauty in an environmental sense. Just one example; the murky canals of Venice have rejuvenated with fish being seen in clear blue water, an unexpected sight in an abused city so desperate for a fresh start. Air pollution has dropped in urban locations globally as a result of people being confined to lockdown, with visual images depicting the decreased density of nitrous oxide. NASA has even reported a reduction of 10-20% in nitrous dioxide levels across central and eastern China, which is estimated to equate to 200 million tonnes of CO2. These statistics stand remarkable considering the timeframe of the recovery of change. The world’s largest lockdown is happening in India, with 1.3 billion people on standby. In New Delhi nitrogen dioxide dropped by 71% in the space of a week, an astounding statistic considering the time frame. The skies have now turned blue, and people are seeing India independent from smog and yellow haze.
Going back to the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, we lived amongst scenes of an apocalyptic nature. Something was brewing and many would say they felt we were headed for calamity in the form of our Climate Crisis. From the fires to the floods, to the destruction of natural habitats and near extinction of precious animals, we knew something was coming. The world was only a pandemic away from waking us all up to the reality of our indefinite vulnerability. We think we are invincible with our economies and tech giants, but if the world can be ground to a stop from meat consumption, then this invincibility is nothing but fiction.
Throughout every event, lessons must be learnt. Our planet needs to rejuvenate, whilst improving ourselves we are destroying the very thing we need to live. Without our planet there is no ‘us’. The coronavirus presents a much-needed re-evaluation of human behaviour to not only protect our environment but to protect the most vulnerable within it. The environment tires of our constant abuse and exploitation. Like us, it needs a break. The current pandemic is something unfathomable and devastating to so many, and so from it we need to ensure that a positive can be derived from the series of events unfolding before of us.
In four months, we have become a more united world, fusing to fight a common enemy; the virus itself. In this period of reflection, we can see causal links globally of our behaviour and environmental strains. The WHO has stated that around 7 million people die a year as a result of air pollution which is a towering number we fathom to imagine. We are fighting a virus, when we ourselves seem to be one in many senses. We live in a beautiful world, and so to maintain its beauty we need to find a harmonious way to live, allowing the natural world to flourish with us.
By Scarlett Buckley