The way the Earth is today is our pop quiz, or an eye opening moment. At the height of a global crisis, we’ve noticed some ways in which our surrounding environment has changed: waters in the canals of Venice ran clear, we’ve seen falling carbon emissions around the world, there has been an enormous scaling back of effluent discharged into our waterways, noise levels decreased and evidently wildlife had been seen returning into areas where they had otherwise been scarce1. Of course in noting this, I am not discounting the fact that millions of lives were lost in the wake of this terrible pandemic.
I’m always a little weary when it comes to Earth Day; it is the time when we appreciate the Earth for all her bounty and natural resources that support us. But we haven’t exactly been nurturing Mother Earth in the way that we should- I say this as a general blanket statement because I do know that there is plenty of good. It’s almost as when a small handful of students didn’t complete their homework assignment and as a result, the entire class gets a pop quiz.
Are these environmental changes temporary? Most likely, because transport leads to such a high percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, the transportation sector accounted for 29% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States alone2. As industrial practices resume to meet the demand for items such as oil and steel, we can assume there will be an exponential increase of carbon emissions3. This is something we already know since restrictions have eased as vaccines are rolling out, and we are moving forward.
But how can we take this opportunity to create a new normal? Can we do better than we had before? These are questions I continue to ask myself, but I do believe we can do our part to mitigate some of anthropogenic issues.
My thought sense is that we shouldn’t celebrate our Earth on April 22nd each year, but we can do our best to show our appreciation as a lifestyle choice. Here are some of the ways we’ve done our part:
- Arora, S., Bhaukhandi, K. D., & Mishra, P. K. (2020). Coronavirus lockdown helped the environment to bounce back. Science of the Total Environment, 742, 1–10. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S004896972034095X#ab0010.
- Environmental Protection Agency. (2021, April 14). Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions#transportation.
- Henriques, M. (2020, March 27). Will Covid-19 have a lasting impact on the environment? BBC Future. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200326-covid-19-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-the-environment.