Thursday, April 30, 2020

From the point of view of Earth

Stories and News No. 1198
 
Once upon a time there was earth, which luckily still is.
Think for a moment, afflicted and limited by the lockdown, of escaping from yourself more than your home.
Let's imagine that we are something else, something immensely larger and certainly more welcoming. I am referring to our planet, often underestimated and mistreated.
I try myself: a little acting method, I close my eyes and... bam! Here I am, speaking as the earth from now on.
First, I say it immediately to avoid misunderstandings and complaints: there is nothing personal in what I will say. I am your planet, but not only yours. Every now and then it doesn't hurt to remember that, even to myself.
Nonetheless, I am perfectly aware of the hard times that many are facing, with more or less tragic tones, mainly because of conditions before the spread of this virus.
Covid-19 has led to the death of more than 220,000 people to date and the tragic consequences for the standard of living and the survival of a huge number of families have yet to be fully calculated.
However, as suggested at the beginning of this story, I renew the invitation to everyone to put yourself in my shoes, mother earth.
Perhaps, wearing these, you also could not help

but look carefully at the fact that the brakes placed on economic activities of many types, all over the world, have led to cuts in carbon emissions that previously would have been unthinkable: the 18% in China between February and March; between 40% and 60% in recent weeks in Europe. Habits and behaviors once considered sacrosanct have been reversed: road traffic in the UK has decreased by 70%. Global air traffic has halved. In the meantime, a much needed spotlight has been thrown on man's troubled relationship with wildlife, with some experts arguing that degradation of the natural world and exploitation of other species are among the causes of the pandemic.
For my part, as planet earth within a page - or sacred natural temple protecting the fundamental conditions that allow life, I observe with inevitable interest a recent study, which declares that the improvement of the quality of the air over the past month of coronavirus lockdown has led to 11,000 fewer deaths in Europe. That the sharp drop in road traffic and industrial emissions has resulted in millions of days of absence from work, thousands less of children who develop asthma, thousands less of visits to the emergency room and premature births, according to the data of the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
I read with keen curiosity that, compared to the same period of last year, nitrogen dioxide levels decreased by 40% while the tiny particulates - known as PM2.5 - decreased by 10%; which means people can breathe more easily. These two forms of pollution, which weaken the heart and respiratory system, are together normally responsible for around 470,000 deaths in Europe every year.
Still in the guise of planet earth, I inevitably noted that limiting to Europe the greatest number of deaths avoided by pollution were detected in Germany (2,083), followed by the United Kingdom (1,752), your Italy (1,490), France (1,230) and Spain (1,083).
Furthermore, if the same calculation was made all over the world, the number of deaths from pollution avoided would be much higher because this study focuses on Europe within a month, rather than since the global pandemic that started from Wuhan six month ago. It is a fact that the two most populated and polluted nations in the world - China and India - have suffered some of the strongest falls in air pollution.
Obviously, like the main author of the analysis, Lauri Myllyvirta, I also think it is difficult to consider the positive sides at the moment, given that many people are dying. The restriction measures that have been taken are causing many economic and other difficulties, but this is an unprecedented experiment in understanding how to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.
That's why everyone, especially the people who work on air pollution, must pay attention to it, perhaps wondering: and if there was this type of air quality not because people are forced to stay at home but because they have managed to convert the human society to clean transport and energy?
Humanity is temporarily retreating during the lockdown, I repeat, but in these days wildlife has run a much lower risk of being hit by cars and trucks. I read that only in the United Kingdom Every year, around 100,000 hedgehogs, 30,000 deer, 50,000 badgers and 100,000 foxes die, as well as barn owls and many other species of birds and insects.
Many city councils have delayed cutting the grass at the roadside - one of the last remaining habitats for wild flowers - which should bring a riot of color to the countryside this summer and provide more pollen to the bees.
Coyotes, normally shy about traffic, were spotted on San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Deer graze near Washington homes a few miles from the White House. The boar is becoming bolder in Barcelona and Bergamo, in Italy. In Wales, peacocks crossed Bangor, goats strolled through Llandudno and sheep were spotted among the playgrounds in Monmouthshire.
Well... bam! I'm back in myself. As far as I can, it is obvious.
Forgive me if I seemed indelicate, it wasn't my intention. But I believe that the earth’s point of view of is useful to consider in every moment of our life, even the most difficult ones.
Because at the end of the day, willy-nilly, the interests of our planet coincide with ours.
So it was before, so it is now and so it will be as long as our species will live.
In a very few words, is it possible that the only way to slow down the destruction of our planet is the lockdown?


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