Skip to main content
BusinessCoronavirusenvironment

Global Reboot

By May 30th, 2020No Comments

On September  12 710 photos were taken by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli every second to create this time-lapse of the Earth (From Italy to Russia) as seen from the Space Station.

Is there a possibility of a global environmental reboot once normality returns?


by Blue Fletcher/30th-May-2020

The current lockdown has revealed a devastating financial crash and huge social implications, also showing that as a global community we can respond rapidly and forcefully to manage crisis. Although different countries have responded with various methods, what has been clear from this pandemic is that much of the world’s population have demonstrated their ability to transform their lives significantly more or less overnight. This implies our capability to transform our deteriorating environment. During global recovery, it will be tempting to only consider the short term implications, when in fact, long term considerations are thought to be most crucial to both our financial and environmental recovery.

Sir Michael Marmot, (Professor of epidemiology and public health at UCL and chair of the WHO’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health) said: “What the COVID crisis exposes is that we can do things differently. We must not go back to the status quo, we cannot do that.”

However, COVID-19 has suggested a much broader trend – an increase in global catastrophes. If we continue to maintain our current economic and environmental model when overcoming this pandemic, it is predicted that future emergencies will ultimately exceed the governments capacity to persevere. In 1972 a similar warning was introduced in the report ‘The Limits To Growth’ by The Club Of Rome. (The Club Of Rome is an organisation developed to address crises facing humanity and the planet.) The lead author, Donella Meadows warned that humanities future is not to be defined by a single emergency, but by many separate but related crises, originating from our failure to maintain the environment. Highlighting how as a global community, we have exuded greediness, consuming the planets’ resources much faster than their restoration process allows.

Global losses from natural disasters over the past decade amounted to $3tn.

Mark Carney, then Bank of England governor, warned in 2015: “Once climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late. If by 2030 we have not cut greenhouse gas emissions by half globally, we will not be able to avoid devastating tipping points that would shatter the global economy and pose existential human threats.The costs of inaction are staggering — $600tn by the end of the century.

Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency argues that “we should not allow today’s crisis to compromise the clean energy transition”. Governments should scrap $400bn in fossil fuel subsidies and back energy efficiency, as well as clean energy and infrastructure.

Stéphane Hallegatte, the World Bank’s lead economist on climate change, points to other potential investments, such as restoration of degraded lands, sanitation and sustainable transport infrastructure. We can create millions of jobs in the short term, spur innovation, support economic diversification, and cut both carbon and air pollution, improving public health.

https://www.ft.com/content/9e832c8a-8961-11ea-a109-483c62d17528

 

Following these trends and predictions, I have investigated examples of how globally, we have worked together as a community to positively impact our environment.

The Ozone Layer

It was recently recorded that the Antarctic hole in the Ozone Layer has reduced significantly in size, making it the smallest it’s been since it was first discovered. The rare success of this environmental development was found in a study published by Nature.

The Ozone layer is a protective shield sitting roughly 30 miles away from the Earth’s surface. Without this, it would prove impossible for almost anything to survive on earth as it blocks the suns ultraviolet rays. The rapid Ozone depletion was mostly caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons, these are gasses formerly found in aerosol spray cans and refrigerants.

It was in 1987 that the Monreal Protocol was introduced, an international treaty to regulate the production and consumption of nearly 100 man-made chemicals that aid the depletion of the ozone layer. With thanks to this agreement, it is now predicted that the ozone layer over the northern hemisphere and mid-latitudes should heal completely by the 2030s. However, the southern hemisphere and polar regions are much more problematic, therefore making it likely that the recovery process will last till 2060.

The recovery of the ozone layer has been a radical achievement, something that seems so unattainable and distant is now potentially within our grips, this supports the idea that humanity can make drastic changes in desperate times.

NASA images show the ozone hole above Antarctica in 2000 (left) and 2018 (right). Source: The Independent

Predictions show the ozone layer fully restored by 2065. Source: Rush Hour Daily

Marine Life

A new picture has been painted for the future of our oceans, from Nature’s new major scientific report. The researchers involved argue that its possible to fully restore our marine life within three decades, with hopes of Humpback Wales in Australia and Green turtles in Japan. The plan of action involves implementing quality protection of large swathes of ocean, introduce sustainable fishing and maintain pollution controls.

Another triumph for our oceans is the development of ‘heat resistant’ coral. The Great Barrier Reef is not only regarded to be one of the most beautiful and fascinating parts of the world, but also of vital importance to marine life-cycles. In the past five years, The Great Barrier Reef has suffered three mass coral bleaching events.  Due to a rise in sea temperature, the warmer environment usually kills the coral, leaving behind a white skeleton. In the most recent bleaching tragedy, around 60% of The Great Barrier Reef was affected, spanning more than 2,000 kilometres.

Working against this harsh process, a team of researches (from CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and The University of Melbourne) have successfully increased the corals heat tolerance. Assisting the corals to adapt to warmer waters, helping them thrive in unfamiliar conditions.

“Our novel approach strengthens the heat resistance of coral by manipulating its microalgae, which is a key factor in the coral’s heat tolerance,” Dr. Buerger said.

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Coral bleaching comparison. Source: GreenPeace USA

A nursery of heat resistant corals transplanted in The Great Barrier Reef. Source: PHYS.org

The aftermath of a severe coral bleaching event in 2016. Source: Bloomsbury

Activism

In recent years, light has been shed on big name brands and their irresponsible uses of the world’s resources. This has lit a fire in an immense amount of people, with one person, in particular, championing the sustainable movement; Greta Thunberg. I’m sure by now, all of us are aware of her youthful perspective of our environmental crisis, her influential thoughts and devotion to this movement have earnt her the title ‘Time Person of the Year for 2019’ by Time Magazine. One of the many positive impacts shes made is her solo climate protest in which she started in 2018, she has since been joined by tens of thousands of students from all over the world standing in solidarity. It was last September when the biggest global strike took place, engaging over 4 million people – the biggest strike that ever taken place for a sustainable future.

Thunberg’s ability to convey feelings and arguments so passionately to people two or three times her age is admirable. Her emotional speech at the United Nations (in September 2019) shocked many, “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”. Her honesty and boisterousness is empowering and refreshing, especially considering her young age. Within the same month, Thunberg attended US Congresswhere she ignited her campaign, demanding that her scientific reasonings were to be read. However, Thunberge went the extra mile, submitting a landmark IPCC climate report that highlighted the rapid rise of global heating. These are just two examples of her many speeches, that she uses to invoke a global change.

As this article focuses on a global reboot, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the progress already made for the environmental campaign. A huge amount of our global community has taken steps in the right direction by starting conversations and voicing their opinions on this huge issue. It’s important to have these discussions and enlight each other, whether its about new sustainable products or innovative scientific advancements.

 

Once again this displays the resilience and power held by scientists and activists all around the world, trying to develop and discuss new innovative strategies to recover what we have destroyed. Many hope that this pandemic steers our priorities and motives towards a more sustainable future, ultimately considering the impact we have on our environment.

Greta Thunberg hosting the Bristol climate strike, with over 20,000 attendees. Source: Somerset Live

IPCC Climate Report presented by Thunberg at US Congress. Source: IPCC

Leave a Reply