For the last few days, I have been woken unfailingly at 5am by birds cheeping and chirping outside my window. It is a bit early, but I try my best to find it charming. Our bird feeder empties faster than we can fill it. Admittedly, I have seen a couple of fat pigeons at it.
The sky actually looks bluer, but maybe my eyes are just going funny. I live in London, so this influx of nature is a rare phenomenon.
With millions of people in the UK working remotely, there is considerably less travel going on. My new favourite nerdy webpage is the Citymapper Mobility Index, which displays, for a whole host of cities globally, the percentage of movement relative to their norms. London is currently sitting at 10%. I certainly don’t miss standing crammed between armpits on the Central line.
The various lockdowns across the globe have caused a remarkable drop in air pollution levels. Residents in the northern Indian state of Punjab have reported being able to see the Himalayas for the first time in decades. Sadly, though, reports of dolphins in the Venice canals have been deemed false by the National Geographic.
This week, experts have said that a link is plausible between high nitrogen oxide levels and increased risk of coronavirus deaths. The climate crisis is quietly revealing itself as a public health emergency too.
It’s quite striking how drastically all things environmental have dropped off the news agenda, but the climate crisis is still a crisis. A huge one.
When we restart the economy, it will be all too tempting to do things as fast as possible, which would mean using oil and a whole load of plastic. Fighting climate change must not be viewed as inimical to growth; businesses and governments need to integrate climate goals into their strategic planning. Take South Korea, for example, which is embracing a ‘green new deal’ for its coronavirus recovery.
In the midst of this crisis is our opportunity to prevent another one.
So, on the pollution-free dawn of this fiftieth Earth Day, perhaps we can commit to a green recovery for all, despite the challenges ahead. Today is the time to decide not to go back to a climate-damaging normal.