So many conventions, protocols, and agreements have been made and signed to control pollution globally for last few decades. Globe continued to suffer from air, water and soil pollution due to rapid urbanization and population growth. This resulted in climate change and loss of biodiversity putting valuable species on the IUCN red list. We act so selfishly to fulfill our needs that we often forget the harm we are causing to our planet. This selfish act of us towards the ecosystem for economic growth is well explained by James Lovelock in his book, “The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning”. He said,
“Humanity is Earth’s infection.”
This statement is justified by the recent Coronavirus pandemic with drastically increasing death tolls and paralyzing economy of hundreds of millions of people around the globe putting countries on lockdown. The Coronavirus lockdowns improved the quality of air as well as water bodies. A decrease of 25% carbon dioxide emissions has been noticed only in four weeks of shutdown in China due to reduction in industrial operations by 15-40%; meanwhile, a reduction of coal consumption by 36% was reported by Myllyvirta’s Analysis. Water in Venice also reflected positive changes and returning of bird species to previously polluted Grand Canal. Efforts for a clear blue sky were also made by China for the Olympics and APEC summit in 2008 and 2014 respectively. This was followed by shutting down all the factories and traffic in selected cities for only three days. The air quality index showed a positive shift. But to improve the quality of the environment we should be more responsible irrespective of populism.
Gaia hypothesisThis was proposed by chemist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn margulis in 1970. They proposed this earth as a self-regulating complex system to maintain the conditions for life. Earth is a living entity responds to changes the same way as we do. Earth’s response is not revenge but healing. The way earth is responding right now is also a reaction to our actions. Coronavirus outbreak was not something created and spread on its own but we provided conditions.
This globe has a self-regulating system even species interacting in ecosystems are managed. Let me explain this with an example. There was a honeybee hive in the wall of a house, bees were attacked by wasps and then started the rain exposing the larvae to the birds. Honeybee eating wasps were then eaten by birds thus balancing the ecosystem naturally. The same happens when anthropogenic activities interfere with natural ecosystems. This outbreak starting from China resulted in global spread thus putting many countries on complete lockdown and affecting international travel, destroying the economy but cleaning the environment and its compartments. We had agreements, conferences, and conventions where countries fought upon carbon credits and other climate actions but a natural pandemic restricted the activities and destructive operations which resulted in positive changes in the environment. Due to the complexity of anthropogenic operations, the loss is much bigger. This outbreak has put so many things on stake. Now is the time to use resources sustainably without compromising our future.
by: Ayesha Mushtaq