Mother Nature’s respite
These truly are unprecedented times we find ourselves living in at the moment. It is proving increasingly difficult to find any positives at a time when so many people are tragically losing their lives and the general population remains so isolated and detached from loved ones all over the world. In between self-isolating (whilst at the same time very, fortunately, being able to conduct my day to day job remotely) and worrying about the health of my wife and two children, my 90-year-old grandmother and so many other people, I find myself looking for something, anything, to raise spirits and to give my sons something a little more positive to focus their attention on.
In doing so, I have come across several articles online which speak about the break our planet is getting at this most unnerving of times in our history. The world in which we live was bruised and battered and in desperate need of respite. However, with all of us living such busy, hectic lives, we could not hear the cries for help or in many cases, we chose to ignore them, as to stop and take note of our buckling planet would be to step off of the hamster wheel that keeps the economy ticking over.
I am sure we have all looked up at the sky in recent weeks and noticed how calm and quiet it has been without a steady flow of airplanes streaking across it, or how quiet the roads have been with barely any cars passing our front doors as would normally be the case. Arising from this disaster, we have been given time, time with our families, time off of that hamster wheel and time to reflect on what the hustle and bustle of our normal lives do to the world in which we live.
I recently saw a picture of the sky above Beijing in China which was, so the narrative accompanying it said, the clearest and bluest it had been for many years. I have seen similar images of the clear, blue sky over the usually smog-laden skyline of Los Angeles. The canals of Venice have been the calmest and clearest they have ever been too. In short, the daily grind that we so naturally and neglectfully had gone about for so many years until last month creates incredibly dangerous levels of pollution which causes extensive damage to our cities and if there is any semblance of a positive we can extract from these terrible times it is that, in this moment, our cities are getting a much-needed and well-deserved break.
Manufacturers shutting down factories, vehicles being kept off the road, planes remaining on terra firma and boats being kept off of the water are all giving the planet a chance to stop and breathe and in some cases, to temporarily rehabilitate. The New York Post recently reported that levels of nitrogen dioxide and nitrous oxide over some of the hardest-hit countries such as China, Spain, and Italy and where social distancing and isolation have been in place now for several weeks, have reduced significantly as human pollution temporarily abates.
Whilst our main concern at this time is of course to see an end to this pandemic, the huge shame is that when this virus finally passes and we are all able to return to our normal lives again, so the abuse of our planet will recommence. There is evidence that in 2009, after the last major recession, pollution levels spiked to an even higher level than normal as people and businesses tried desperately to make up for lost time, manufacturing and traveling at even higher levels.
So will we learn anything from this terrible experience? Will we take note of the clear skies, clear waters and fresher air and yearn for more to the extent that it makes us change our way of living? It is highly unlikely, but for the time being, the brief respite will continue for Mother Nature.
Wishing you all good health at this time.
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