And the People Stayed HomeAnd the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
And in a year in which a deadly pandemic has had the globe in its grip and climate change helped spark a cascade of calamities from raging wildfires to a ferocious hurricane season, the focus of this year’s Earth Day couldn’t be more timely.
“At the heart of Earth Day’s 2021 theme, Restore Our Earth, is optimism, a critically needed sentiment in a world ravaged by both climate change and the pandemic,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of EarthDay.org. news.mit.edu/…
Twenty million people were out in the streets across the country on the first Earth Day April 22, 1970. This remains the largest civil turnout in history. Because of Covid-19, most events this year were held virtually. Climate change topped the roster of themes in the “Restore Our Earth” campaign, which focuses on innovation, ecosystem restoration, and green technologies. And discussions came to light about the connections between Covid-19 and the environment.
Last year, as Covid lockdowns led to a significant reduction of polluting GHGs, people in Punjab, India, took to Instagram and Twitter to post pictures of the Himalayas, visible to them for the first time in 30 years. For many, it was the first time they had ever seen the mountains. Fish were visible in the unpolluted canals in Venice. Air pollution, seen from satellites far above China disappeared.
An MIT Study revealed that many nations experienced a reduction in GHGs during 2020, a reduction which also precipitated international “economic shocks.” Although the economic impacts are not expected to have any long term impact on “long term emissions they may well have a significant indirect effect on the level of investment that nations are willing to commit to meet or beat their Paris emissions targets,” says MIT Joint Program Co-Director Emeritus John Reilly, the study’s lead author.
“Our projections of global economic activity with and without the pandemic show only a small impact of Covid-19 on emissions in 2030 and beyond,” says Reilly. (How will Covid-19 ultimately impact climate change?)
2020 marked the year with the steepest decline in energy use since the second World War, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) who predicts a sharp uptake in CO2 emissions post Covid. In fact, the increase in CO2 emissions is anticipated to be the second largest ever, although it will be slightly lower than 2019.
In a YaleEnvironmet 360 article Global CO2 Emissions Set to Surge in 2021 in Post-Covid Economic Rebound, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects CO2 emissions to increase by 1.5 billion tons this year.
But there is promising news. Covid has created a boilerplate, one which relies on “using science, real-time data, and a global community working towards a common goal of improved personal health.”
Recent research on changes in environmental health during the Covid-19 lock down, presented at the Goddard Space Flight Center, found “that the environment is quickly changing, and the timing of those changes seems to indicate that the pandemic may be a reason. Deforestation rates are changing in some places, air pollution is diminishing, water quality is improving, and snow is becoming more reflective in some areas since the pandemic began earlier this year.” (Bates, 2020, para. 1)
The pandemic is giving us new data and a new opportunity to use our current experiences to begin new approaches and behaviors that will help improve our world’s environmental health. www.wpi.edu/…
Some of this year’s Earth Day events continue through the weekend.
Biden is expected to unveil a new emissions reduction target for the Paris climate accord before or during the summit and pledge money to help less wealthy countries combat climate change.
Three days of climate action through Friday
Earth Day NASA (through Saturday)
To celebrate Earth Day 2021 (Thursday, April 22), NASA is hosting a virtual Earth Day event – from Wednesday, April 21, through Saturday, April 24 – focused on how to live more sustainably on our home planet, and exploring the connections between Earth’s atmosphere, water cycle, forests, fields, cities, ice caps, and climate. The program – called #ConnectedByEarth – will feature live presentations by NASA scientists, conversations with astronauts and scientists working in space, videos, interactive science content, a kid-friendly fun zone, a scavenger hunt, hundreds of downloadable resources, and more. Some content will also be available in Spanish.
Registration is free and open to the public. Register to participate here.
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