Our Mother Earth in Lockdown Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) 2020
Earth Day 2020 Special Post – Changing Lives
It is 50 years since Earth Day was first celebrated. On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans took to the streets giving voice to an emerging environmental awareness. The planet was suffering, and measures had to be increased to protect it. And planning was done on the matter!
Since then, we have seen the creation of a multitude of organizations for the defense of the environment or agreements between different countries that have been more or less successful in preserving our Earth.
Fifty years have passed, and we are facing this significant date immersed in an unprecedented situation. In recent weeks we have stayed at home, and this has resulted in various animals having wandered everywhere. We have noticed an improvement in air quality in cities, and we have witnessed the most considerable reduction in CO2 emissions until date.
But is that enough to stop climate change? Is this crisis helping to return to the levels of 50 years ago? How were we in these aspects on the first day of Earth, and how are we now? Here are a few things about the environment that you should know.
CO2 level increase:
How has the CO2 concentration changed over the past 50 years? At that time, the highest values that the human being had ever registered were much less than today. Average CO2 concentrations in 1970 were somewhat higher than 325 parts per million, reaching a maximum of 328 in April.
But that record has been broken year after year. In 2019 the average was more than 411 parts per million, and this year it is on track to exceed that value. We’ve already broken the record for CO2 ever recorded since humans are on Earth. It was last April 9, when the concentrations measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory (Hawaii) approached 418 parts per million.
Is the effect of the COVID-19 crisis being felt? Our stoppage of activity has caused a reduction in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, which, predictably, will become the most significant annual drop in history. This is good news! Anyway, the weather is hardly going to notice this decline.
The time that CO2 remains in the atmosphere is very high (centuries, almost millennia), and this break will hardly be noticeable. It is time to continue striving to comply with the Paris Agreement.
How high has the temperature risen since 1970? We have to admit that this question is incorrect because every year it behaves differently. But there is an evident trend! To get an idea, let us make a record like that of NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States) that covers the last 140 years, the year 1970 ranks 59.
Since 1976, no year has been below the average of the last century and the previous five years are the warmest as the records show. The year 2016 is leading the ranking, and 2019 is in second place. Where will 2020 be? It is still early to assess what position will occupy this 2020, but for now, the small data that we are learning continue to confirm the trend in which we are immersed. Last March 2020 was the second warmest March since there are records.
Throughout these years, there have been various measures to prevent the loss of species. Some have been successful. We have seen species such as the grey wolf, the bald eagle, or the humpback whale emerge from the danger of extinction. But the reality is that biodiversity on our planet is facing high risks which are increasing day by day. There will be animals that we can only see in a photo in a few years. In fact, there are already so many animals that have gone extinct, and we can only read or hear about them.
In 2018 WWF published its report “Living Planet” indicating that vertebrate populations had decreased by 60% since 1970. A year later, in 2019, we learned about the Report of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Services Ecosystem (IPBES) that was not much more encouraging. It showed that one million of the eight million species that currently live on the planet are in danger of extinction.
A rate that has been accelerating in the last 40 years and whose responsibility is directly linked to our actions, such as changes in land use or climate change. And that’s not all. Alterations in biodiversity have consequences that can end up affecting our activities and our health. According to UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), every four months, a new infectious disease emerges in humans, and 75% of them come from animals. To make transmission more complicated, it is essential to protect biodiversity and the balance of ecosystems.
There are so many activities you can still do amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic. We understand that these are challenging times for mother Earth and us but every bit that we will do today will help us in some way or the other. This year, on earth day, there were no events, no protests. Taking it positively, we have listed a few ways in which you can celebrate Earth day at its best.
- Plant as many saplings in your garden or any area around your house.
- Feed stray animals in your locality
- Spend 15 minutes gardening
- Spread awareness about the importance of a healthy environment
In these ways, you can stay at home, stay safe. As well as, you can do your bit on Earth day.
The celebration of Earth Day this year is likely to be much more moderate compared to the 1970s when 20 million protesters and thousands of schools and communities participated in events annually. Or perhaps in other years interest in Earth Day has waned due to a changing political climate. Still, together we must all make efforts to enhance the value and importance of this day. We must see the value in making it known, since Earth Day is a reminder that, if we dedicate ourselves and if we pass laws, we write regulations and implement them, we can all achieve much more, and there is much we can do. Although we can physically, let us make the current situation serve as a wake-up call for everyone and, above all, so that we can take better measures to protect our planet; it is our highest common sense.
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