The Covid-19 pandemic initially helped combat climate change in America due to the lack of human activity in major metropolitans, where things like pollution are common. Now, climate scientists are warning that the climate crisis has worsened exponentially within the past decade, and this year was no different.
In November of 2019, an article co-signed by over 11,000 scientists was published in a journal that declared a global climate emergency. This Tuesday, the same journal released an update in which they claimed a few improvements have been made to our environment thanks to the pandemic, but ultimately much more systemic work needs to be done if we want to see a real change in our planet’s health.
“A major lesson from COVID-19 is that even colossally decreased transportation and consumption are not nearly enough and that, instead, transformational system changes are required, and they must rise above politics.”
“Given the impacts we are seeing at roughly 1.25 degrees Celsius (°C) warming, combined with the many reinforcing feedback loops and potential tipping points, massive-scale climate action is urgently needed,” the article reads.
Ecology professor William Ripple and forest ecosystem researcher Christopher Wold were some of the lead authors on the article update, and they cited catastrophic flooding, wildfires, and record-breaking heat waves that have been impacting America.
The data published shows a Covid-related dip in air travel led to a decrease in the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, however, record levels of methane and carbon dioxide were still recorded in the atmosphere, which has increased acidification in the Earth’s oceans, and led to the melting of major ice sheets.
“Global gross domestic product dropped by 3.6% in 2020 but is projected to rebound to an all-time high,” Ripple said in a statement.
“Likely because of the pandemic, fossil fuel consumption has gone down since 2019, as have carbon dioxide emissions and airline travel levels. All of these are expected to significantly rise with the opening of the economy.
The article update sent a very similar message as its original, calling on the government for an elimination of fossil fuels, air pollutants, a switch to mostly plant-based diets, a more sustainable economy, and a means of stabilizing the human population.
“As long as humanity’s pressure on the Earth system continues, attempted remedies will only redistribute the pressure. But by halting the unsustainable exploitation of natural habitats, we can reduce zoonotic disease transmission risks, protect carbon stocks and conserve biodiversity, all at the same time,” Wolf said.
“We need to quickly change how we’re doing things, and new climate policies should be part of COVID-19 recovery plans wherever possible. It’s time for us to join together as a global community with a shared sense of cooperation, urgency and equity.”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.