One of the things I have found the most comforting during this uncertain time is seeing the effects that this new reality is having on our planet and its wildlife. It seems while we humans have been sent to our rooms to think about what we’ve done the earth and its other occupants have been left out to play. Here are five hopeful stories because even though I get no joy out of this terrible situation, these do bring a smile to my face. Please feel free to share some others with me if you have them. I think it’s the perfect way to celebrate 5o years of earth day.
Number 1: There has been a huge decline in air pollution across China, Europe and the US, with carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels heading for a record breaking 5% annual drop. Due to less planes in the air and cars on the road the air is exponentially cleaner. In China alone the initial lockdown drove pollution levels down by 25%.
Number 2: Wildlife is returning to places where it hasn’t been seen for a long time. Many people have noticed a lot more birds visiting their gardens and providing a much needed soundtrack to such a strange and challenging time. Many towns and villages have delayed cutting grass on roadside verges in order to encourage the growth of wildflowers. This will provide a lot more pollen for bees during the summer. Coyotes, who would normally be nowhere to be seen at this time of year have been spotted on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco due to the fact that cars have now grinded to a halt. Deer have been seen grazing just a few miles from the White House. Thailand has also had the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches left empty of tourists and lions are lazily relaxing in the middle of the road in safari parks in South Africa totally undisturbed by passing cars.
Number 3: Penguins at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Chicago are experiencing a new found freedom. For the first time they are allowed to roam around the facility because there are no daily visitors. Due to the lack of tourists it is the penguins who are now getting the daily tour around admiring the beluga whales and dolphins on the other side of the glass. If you need a pick me up please look up these videos, they are heart warming to say the least.
Number 4: Venice canals are clearer than ever, the normally polluted waters are now crystal clear due to the lack of visitors and boat traffic.
Number 5: Yosemite National Park has seen a rise in black bears frequenting the park. They are now coming out of hibernation and have been seen rambling around looking far more comfortable in their surroundings. Mountain coyotes, who are also native to the area have also made an appearance in the last few weeks. They have been seen out in the daytime and appear happier and less afraid.
Of course these changes won’t and can’t last forever. We have to restart our flailing economies again soon. There is also an argument to be made that without the debris left behind by humans some animals are struggling to find food and some are suffering due to the closure of conservation areas. I like the rest of you, am looking forward to returning to my normal life free from this confinement. However it would be a real shame if we didn’t learn something from this terrible time. What a waste it will have been if we don’t take at least some of the lessons we’ve learned into the future with us. As Greta Thunberg quoted lately every day is earth day.
We can no longer say that these changes in behaviour won’t make any difference because we have seen in just a few short weeks that they do. We have seen how willing Mother Nature is to heal herself with just a little help from us. We don’t have to take such drastic measures as this pandemic has imposed on us of course, that’s not at all realistic but some habits can change. If this virus has thought us anything it’s that it’s a team effort. We are all in this together. Happy Earth Day!