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Earth Day during COVID-19; Is there a silver lining?

Written by Lynsey Hand

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Posted on April 22 2020

You may have seen the posts; 'Dolphins and Swans returning to a crystal clear Venice canal for the first time in years'!  Cities such as 'Los Angeles and Beijing reporting the cleanest air for decades'!.

So is there a positive environmental silver lining to this seemingly endless period of anxiety-ridden social distancing? 

Well, yes and no. 

The Dolphins? Those were actually filmed in Sardinia - hundreds of miles away from Venice, in a resort town which runs regular dolphin-watching tours.

The Swans? Pretty much always there, which the writer of the post, a resident of New Delhi, India, was not aware of. 

The 'crystal clear canal waters'?  Same water as always; the canal usually has tourist boats , churning up the silt in the bottom of the canal. In the absence of the boats, the silt has settled at the bottom of the canal, and hey presto,  'crystal clear' water (with the silt still there, just settled at the bottom).

So what about the 'cleaner air' claim?

This DOES appear to be true (yay)!  There is both anecdotal, and NASA supported evidence of air pollution levels being historically low for  in many of the world's great cities. 

Note the incredible footage below, shot by our lovely friend Susan (Instagram @susangkoger) as she flew back into LA last week (after a 4 week quarantine in the Philippines where she was on vacation, when COVID-19 struck the US big time).

As someone who 'used' to make this flight on a regular basis, I can absolutely concur with Susan's observations...you can NEVER see the city so clearly as she saw it..it usually has a layer of brownish yellow funk hanging over it.

We're even hearing from many news sources that LA has, at present, the cleanest air of any city on the planet, which is pretty amazing, if a little exaggerated.

Similar improvements in air quality have been reported where Social Distancing measures have been in place for some weeks, such as in New York, Rome and Paris. 

The downside? It's temporary. 

Scientists agree that once we get back to 'normal', so will the levels of pollution. This has already been seen in re-opened Chinese cities.

 But here is my own 'silver lining' observation.

The first week of my own self-isolation experience, I panicked. I automatically assumed that this was going to basically be Armageddon...that sooner rather than later, we would all be forced into looting, cannibalism, and installing bidets. 

I also thought our small, beloved business had zero chance of survival. 

Thankfully, we have plenty of food, crime has not increased, and, despite much irrational stock-piling by some, I have been able to procure more than enough toilet paper.

For the most part, I have found those at the grocery store during my weekly shop, kind and courteous - dare I say friendly  - and very respectful of all government guidelines. 

I find myself being comfortable with lots of new phrases;  'at this difficult time', 'whilst maintaining a safe social-distance', 'new normal', 'due to the current unprecedented circumstances', and I no longer sign off emails with 'Best Regards', but instead, 'stay safe'. 

I may be wrong, but this crisis seems to be bringing out our kinder selves; the side to us that cares about our neighbors, genuinely misses our friends, and can't wait to see our families again.  

I have never seen so many random acts of kindness in my neighborhood before; so many 'help yourself' bowls of produce outside peoples houses, so many 'we're all in this together' messages. 

And I now think that, due to the incredible support and words of encouragement from our amazing fans and customers (that's you), and the determination and sheer awesome-ness of the ladies who work for us,  I actually think Miss L Fire will survive. 

I also feel that when we do return to a 'new normal', I will want to travel less, work from home more, stress out less when we miss a target, stop beating myself up when I get something wrong, and moreover, be happy with less, so that I may spend more time with those I love. 

I accept that the pollution levels in my beloved Cities of London and Los Angeles will go back up again....but maybe, if , like me, more people will be looking to slow down just a little, whilst things won't be perfect, maybe they will be just that bit better than before. 

So on Earth Day, 2020 , this is my 'Silver Lining'. What's yours? Let us know in the comments section below.

Further reading:-

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/03/25/fact-check-coronavirus-crisis-benefiting-environment/2908300001/

 

www.earthday.org

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/blogs/earthmatters/2020/03/05/how-the-coronavirus-is-and-is-not-affecting-the-environment/ 

 

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/earthdayathome-with-nasa/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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