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Nature strikes back

Apr 22,2020 - Last updated at Apr 22,2020

In commemoration of Earth Day, celebrated annually around the world on April 22, it can may be said that COVID-19 is nature`s biosphere (surface air, water and living matter) way of striking back at us due to our anthropocentric behaviour to meet our wants, rather than needs, that exhausted the environment through emitting excessive greenhouse gases (GHGs) of anthropogenic nature around the globe. To add insult to injury, we have also practiced systemic deforestation, excessive mining, overfishing and used harmful chemicals, and other inventions that harm nature. So, how is COVID-19 striking back?

The strict measures the world had committed itself to, such as solitary confinement, distancing and other types of lockdowns, have assisted in reducing fossil-fuel consumption for transportation, industry, tourism… etc. Also, extravagant consumption of power at offices and public buildings for cooling and heating and excessive demand on electricity has been reduced dramatically. This will probably be reflected as a slight reduction in the concentration of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere very soon, as well as reductions in other GHGs, such as CH4, N2O, SF6 and chlorofluorocarbons if the measures persist long enough.

Air freight that has also been reduced to limited flights will reduce pollutants in the upper level of the atmosphere, which was becoming a serious environmental issues in the past few decades, where GHGs are trapped above the clouds with less filtration systems and no metabolism to absorb or breakdown the molecular compounds. Some of these trapped gases need hundreds of years to break down, thus bequeathing environmental hazards for generations to come.

As demand on fossil fuels is diminishing, so would the expected demand on expanding farms at the cost of destroying rain forests and natural habitats. Yet, the predicted halt of further increase in GHGs concentrations or possibly a slight reduction might give the dying global costal reefs, half of which has died due to global warming, a chance to flourish again, thus giving more stamina to marine life. The increasing acidity of the sea waters might also stop, or possibly reverse to allow more planktonic organisms to multiply in numbers, thus consuming more CO2 from the air and releasing more oxygen into the atmosphere.

The one million dollar question that remains is: How long would this lockdown persist and how substantial it's positive impact on the environment would be, and can it endure?

May be some answers will yield the fact that very little impact is expected. However, we ought to ask ourselves: if the health of the existing citizens of the world is so important for governments worldwide to the extent that they sacrifice the economy for their health, then what about future generations who will be subjected to unforeseen circumstances due to global warming in the coming decades, ranging from pandemics to drinking water shortages to famine! Is it not time to take climate change seriously, at least for the sake of the young generations of today and those of the future until the end of century, when the mean rise in temperature might exceed 4oC?

All the changes in climate and its consequences that we experience today is a response to only 1-1.2oC change in mean temperature of the atmosphere above the levels that persisted two centuries old, so just imagine the consequences of predicted escalation by the world`s most prominent centers of research, including the IPCC, from 1oC to 4oC, or possibly more. Can we, therefore, consider the coronavirus hitting back at us a blessing from an environmentalist perspective?

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