The Positives of Negatives

For many of us, life has become a battle of semi- bareable existence in a seemingly unending game of chess none of us knew was coming or know quite how to play.

We're scared shitless of everything & anyone. The invisible mind fuck that's sadly all too often making itself visible in the extreme in those unfortunate enough to contract it and is impacting on us all in ways we never had time to imagine.

The big C. Covid-19 is about as disruptive force as anyone South of 90 will have ever experienced and it's pretty easy to fall into a wide reaching chasm of despair and angst.

Life is now measured in two metre forcefields and the length of a boxset.

We're afraid to come into a contact of less than 2 metres with someone who isn’t in our household, and as a result, are having to re-imagine our everyday lives and reinvent the rules.

And this is for good reason; people are dying. Social distancing is helping to reduce infection rates, and these are steps that we are no longer taking for ourselves, but for the health of others.

As a consequence, we are seeing vast developments in the health of the planet due to humans re-evaluating their daily lives and well, generally causing less damage than we otherwise would be.

Surely that's a reason to smile right?!

These changes to the everyday have been those that, as a company who is environmentally and socially minded, we have been wanting to see. There have been dramatic reductions in air pollution, improvement in ecological standards for wildlife and a more human-focussed mentality towards the working week.

One of the main environmental benefits that we have seen is a decrease in both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. We are living in a world where there is an expectation that carbon emissions will increase year on year; the last time that carbon emissions fell was during the economic crisis of 2007 - 2010. Yet in the past two months, we have seen a dramatic decrease worldwide.

In China, emissions were down by 18% between early February and mid-March whilst Europe has forecast to see a reduction of around 390 million tonnes.

Oil is undoubtedly the biggest source carbon emissions that contribute hugely to global warming. Its markets have been heavily affected by the virus; the price of oil has fallen almost two- thirds since last year due to fewer drivers being on the roads, and less planes in the air.

Climate scientist Michael Mann is expecting this impact to be seen across the year, rather than just a spike during this short time period and, if this level of restriction continues, a potential drop of several per cent in global carbon emissions. Even taking a ‘worst case scenario’ approach, it seems that the future of the environment can still look bright. Glen Peters of the Centre for International Climate an Environment Research has predicted that 2020 may still see a drop in global emissions of 0.3%; whilst this might seem like a tiny number, any change is a stall in an upward trajectory.

Global air pollution has taken a thankful hit; when we are faced with a virus that attacks the respiratory system, clean air has become increasingly important for overall health. This decrease in air pollution is partially due to manufacturers being forced to shut down factories with aims of social distancing in mind, and additionally to do with shrinking supply chains in their industries causing less global product travel. We have also seen how a reduction in air flight has caused a direct decrease in atmospheric Nitrous Oxide. These changes have been noticed across Europe, particularly Northern Italy, from when the lockdown began.

The spread of COVID-19 has been linked to human encroachment on biodiversity which has increased the spill over of disease from animals to humans. This realisation has caused countries to rethink their approach to the trade in exotic wild animals. This historically under-regulated industry has come under scrutiny with lawmakers in China and Vietnam

The rapid retreat of humans from the streets has provided the natural world an opportunity to make steps towards reclamation. We have seen a dramatic decrease in roadkill due to there being less vehicles on the road, and people only travelling if they HAVE to. This could save the lives of many species in the UK alone and gives animal lives the chance to follow their natural course.

The re-organisation of council expenditure, channelling into our incredible health services, has had an impact on rural roadside maintenance. Rather than a frustration, this can be seen as a positive for the natural world as verges are able to grow long and wildflowers have the opportunity to flourish, providing pollen for insects such as the endangered bee.

Whether these changes are expected to be continued post Corona lockdown, we do not know but, we can hope that the dramatic changes that we are experiencing, and acting on, could show the world how it can mobilise to act on climate change. As humans, we have shown an incredible capacity to change our

ways to help save lives in the face of COVID19; this shows how much potential we can have to majorly influence the steps that we make on climate issues.

We also have the opportunity to consider changes within the commonplace work life. The changing landscape of working from home could dramatically decrease the requirements of offices and decrease the number of people having to travel regularly into work, being able to have a direct impact on fuel consumption. Yet changes cannot be implemented over night; a few months is unlikely to provide a drastic change. It might be that an extended period of this different way of living is necessary to completely change the mindset of a population; could this period actually change consumption practices in the long run?

What this pandemic has demonstrated, are the consequences of not acting on scientific guidance soon enough; indicating how the political delay has had a direct impact on human life. There are parallels here to our ignorance of climate change; how it has been easy, to this point, for the government to ignore the statistics that are staring them straight in the face. This horrific virus has been affecting many people; breaking up families and causing pain and sadness. But we can always find potential for light in such dark times; we need to look forward and to learn from the impact on human life of not acting quickly enough and think ‘What can we change next?’

words by Alice Harrison