Could our planet be in a much healthier place in a year’s time?
by Mike Stentiford
IF we are allowed just one shimmer of a green light emanating from this calamitous global lockdown then please let it be a critical reappraisal of our dubious behaviour towards the natural order.
Encouragingly, modest signs of initial positivity are being addressed in parts of China where desperately needed repairs to its injured population and crippled economy are apparently under way.
One can only hope that the same zest for human recovery focuses on the country’s appalling record on animal welfare.
Wuhan, the verified birthplace of coronavirus, is well known in China for its wild-animal markets where the A to Z of the animal kingdom are kept in unbelievably wretched conditions.
Although expectations of any radical changes to the bizarre eating habits of the Chinese populace are likely to be an ask too far, one can nevertheless hope that shockwaves from a pandemic of such global magnitude will result in a long-overdue ‘culinary’ reappraisal.
WHENEVER the term ‘climate change’ appears, the Arctic’s ice sheets generally hold centre stage.
But, because neither ice, snow or zero temperatures intrude as a topic of general conversation, they tend to be deleted as part of our priority thinking.
Latest revelations from Greenland, however, state that in only the past three months, enough ice has been lost to raise the average global sea level by a little over one millimetre.
Despite this seeming an abysmally insignificant measurement, Greenland’s ice sheet has diminished by an astonishing three-and-a-half trillion tonnes since 2003.
The ice sheet is purported to be seven times larger than the British Isles and, as this gigantic storage tank of frozen water starts to thaw, worldwide sea levels are forecast to rise by up to seven metres.
PROVING that it is not only the Arctic that is gaining worldwide ‘climatic status’, the Casey Research Station in Antarctica has recorded a temperature of 48.6 degrees Fahrenheit – its first official heat wave.
Heat waves in Antarctica are a rarity and to ‘qualify’, they need to be recorded over three consecutive days.
By sheer irony, another king-sized Antarctic ice sheet known as the Denman Glacier is also in full melt-mode and rapidly retreating from its present position above the world’s deepest-known canyon.
What sense can be made from all of this mayhem is beyond human comprehension.
WHILE wildlife takes every advantage of unexpectedly deserted towns, cities and rural landscapes, a critical number of ready-to-go environmental projects are now on temporary hold.
Normally at this time of early season, countless UK wildlife charities, assisted by an army of volunteers, are gearing up for major fact-finding monitoring missions.
For obvious reasons, nature’s informative ‘facts and figures show 2020’ is having to enforce its very own version of social distancing.
Although the current lockdown will force many suchlike eco-projects ‘into the long grass’, wildlife itself is doubtless jubilant at the thought of such welcome and unexpected privacy.
MIGHT the planet find itself in a far better state of repair in 12 months’ time? It’s a question preying on the minds of countless scientific thinkers.
During the present global lockdown, it is easy to understand why oceans are regaining a remarkable standard of good health, the air is dispensing with pollution and the natural environment is gently slipping into acutely essential recovery mode.
Nevertheless, the word is that the moment heavy industry and the world’s economy sees the first signs of rebirth, then business will be back to where business needs to be – but in a much faster and far more aggressive manner.
While this is both crucial and fully understandable, serious minds wonder if the desperately anticipated environmental restoration strategy will be able to continue without essential sustainable support?
I HEAR that the UK authorities are not over-pleased with 15 ‘twitchers’ who flouted the laws on social distancing by group-gathering in Cheltenham for a sneaky look-see at a migrant bird known as a ring ouzel.
While understanding the eco-frustrations clearly being felt at this frantic time of migratory activity, such an act of folly gives bird-watching an undeservedly bad name.
It is startlingly evident that, while playing the cruellest of diverse tricks on much of the world’s populace, this grossly unfair pandemic is awarding a brief but welcome measure of respite to a deeply ravaged natural environment.
Due entirely to a mass withdrawal of environmentally bad practice, tangible signs of recovery are already in evidence.
Who knows, with the final exit of Covid-19, maybe we can find a way in which collective responsibility for the world and its natural environment becomes far more determined and decidedly more widespread.
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