It was eerie. The silence deafening. While out walking my dog in the morning, the stillness around me made me stop and take notice – no cars on the roads, no planes overhead, few to no pedestrians on the city streets in my neighborhood.
The promise of spring, rebirth, a resurrected life was just around the corner and the unbelievable had happened. COVID-19, unknown only a few months earlier, had crossed continents grounding human activity in my city and nation to a halt.
In the silence, I listened to the sweet, pure voice of birdsong and wondered how would this drastic change in human behaviour impact the climate and our global environment?
Now almost a year later, the answer seems both simple and complex. As the pandemic migrated across the planet, nations went into lockdown mode to try to stop the spread of the virus. Scientists noted marked reduction in air pollution – 25% reduction in carbon emissions – with the interruption of both travel and industry beginning in Wuhan, China. This country produced approximately 200 million fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide than reported in 2019 in the same period. (Industries that contribute the most to pollution are cement, steel, agriculture and aviation). Blue skies were visible again in Wuhan. As pandemic lockdowns continued into more regions across the planet, more air pollution reduction images appeared. For example, the Himalaya mountain range in northern India was visible from Jalandhar for the first time in decades. In Canada, the steepest curve toward clean air happened throughout the nation in March 2020 when lockdowns started, and the US/Canada border was closed. Mother Earth could breathe better. However, lockdown mode is not a viable option to address environmental pollution and climate change. We the people need to work and make a living. So how do we live healthy sustainable lives?
Perhaps the lesson we can take from this pandemic is that human behaviour can radically change with necessity. We need to move to sustainable, green technologies to allow the earth and environment to heal. What can we do as individuals to support required change? Perhaps each person can commit to one behaviour change: reduction in the use of plastic, consider walking, cycling or public transportation overdriving the car, shop locally. And ask our politicians to commit to funding green energy technologies.
Jeremiah 2:7 – I brought you into a plentiful land, to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.
Prayer: Loving and Gracious God, your creation is wondrous and beautiful. As we move toward Easter, I pray that we can be born anew in right relationship with your creation and find sustainable environmental solutions for the future of our children and grandchildren. Amen.
Submitted by Valerie Hobson,
WICC Board Member and MarCom Team Chair