As of the end of 2020, there’s clear water in the Venice canals, blue skies over Delhi and wild animals are roaming boldly in locked-down cities all over the world.
The oil industry and airlines are smaller than ever, and carbon emissions have fallen fast. The global pandemic appears to have some positive environmental outcomes.
Of course, there have also been untold tonnes of food wasted in broken supply chains as well as a small spike in worldwide temperature due to less mass in our atmosphere to cool it. This is to say nothing of the fact that the lifestyle changes that brought about the drop in carbon emissions are, thankfully, not going to be permanent.
Historically speaking, when emissions drop fast, during difficult economic times, the recovery leads to skyrocketing emissions that wipe out any gains made. Now, is it possible for this to be different in 2021? Of course it is.
Perhaps this is why the global theme for Earth Day 2021 is Restore Our Earth.
Restore Our Earth is meant to reinforce nature based solutions to environmental problems rather than the notion that mitigation or adaptation are the only way to address climate change. It focuses on natural processes and emerging green technologies that can restore the world’s ecosystems.
Traditionally, Earth Day is a time of gathering to take action. Communities all over the world, including Stouffville, plan initiatives to take on the challenge of the year’s theme. Of course this year, Earth Day’s 51st, will be different.
Many York Region virtual activities are in addition to the global online initiatives that are being hosted by the Earth Day Network and will culminate in a digital world climate summit on April 22.
The Restore Our Earth theme also ties directly to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 very likely originated in wildlife, spreading from human-to-wildlife interactions. Climate change, deforestation and other habitat destruction only increase humans’ contact with wildlife.
“Scientists are sounding the alarm that unless we take better care of the planet, we risk more viruses ravaging our communities,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network.
So, as ever, Earth Day 2021 is an important opportunity to, not just save the environment, but to restore it.”
And everyone doing their bit is what Earth Day is ultimately all about, even in a pandemic.