There are a lot of articles and posts around at the moment saying things like “The Earth is healing”, “Nature is recovering”, and “Corona Causes Drop in Global CO2”. Whilst some of the stories are factually correct, others are false and exaggerated (see the return of dolphins in Venice for example) and many are quick to jump on and celebrate the effects of a global pandemic.
Indeed Extinction Rebellion, or if you believe XR, someone claiming to be them, put up posters saying “Corona is the Cure. Humans are the virus”. Extinction Rebellion blamed this on white supremacists who took over an old account. I’m not sure how true that is as before the account was pulled it was active and there was no previous sign (or current sign) of white supremacy so it looks a lot more like a panicked response from a disorganised comms team looking to distance themselves from a terrible idea. Regardless, people are celebrating Corona which strikes me as pretty distasteful at the very least and outright dangerous in some cases.
I’m well aware there is a reduction in CO2 as people aren’t able to travel or go anywhere and that this has reduced smog and air pollution. It has not been responsible for animals repopulating vast areas, Australia recovering after bushfires or many of the other claims, sometimes things just happen. It has caused widespread suffering, death, fear, job loss and a general crippling of society as we know it. It has caused Trump to lift all pollution sanctions in the US meaning you essentially can’t do anything illegal in terms of pollution. It will also result in a lot of production and incineration of plastics from medical wear (essential) and other effects that haven’t even been thought of yet. The cost of this perceived climate benefit is far too high to warrant any sort of celebration. Indeed, one climate research said that there was “no other way that is more expensive to save CO2” than what we are doing right now.
If the idea behind climate change prevention is to save lives globally and make things better then how can we celebrate a massive pandemic that is taking lives globally and making things worse? Why not just call for a cull on humans while we are at?. This sort of view has coined the term “Eco-facism” which is not a not nice term and one that is being thrown around a lot between “environmentalists” and “others” thus creating more of a divide in some groups. It is a fact that environmental activism is the least successful form of activism, achieving less than any other sector. As I’ve said previously I am not a big fan of activism but those who are must appreciate that celebrating pandemics and throwing the word fascist at each other is not helpful in being taken seriously as a credible movement.
Yes it was heartening it see collaboration and people pulling together and yes it would be great if we could do the same for climate change. It would be great to see the climate crisis on the news and treated as a crisis but maybe now is not the time to raise that argument?
There may be a temporary drop in emissions but they will rise again. We may have to cancel the COP26 Climate Conference in the meantime, the US will likely put their environmental policies back in place eventually but they will no doubt be even more reduced, the fossil fuel economy will not go away nor will all the other industries like fast fashion and cheap flights. Indeed the oil price has dropped and many renewable projects are being scrapped so there is likely to be a rebound of more oil being used in the short term. This is a temporary drop due to a crisis, not a fix or a remedy and not something that will cause long term reductions in itself.
Calling corona a cure, a benefit or even an opportunity is unwise and seems to show a distinct lack of tact and an even greater lack of understanding on what is happening.
There is no way to dress this up, this is not a good thing.