The Happening is a 2008 apocalyptic film directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Mark Wahlberg. People in New York City suddenly begin dying by mass suicide. Later it is revealed plantlife has developed a defense mechanism against humans. Trees are releasing an airborne toxin which stimulates neurotransmitters and causes humans to kill themselves. Plants are targeting only large groups of people. The message of the movie is clear — we are doing too much damage to the planet, therefore the planet decided to reduce our numbers to a more sustainable level.
The coronavirus outbreak in 2020 is surreal. Streets are empty, shelves in supermarkets are empty and there is no traffic on motorways. Flights are canceled. Life has stopped. It feels like we are in an apocalyptic film. But it is not a movie, it is reality. People are afraid and social distancing and quarantine are recommended.
Since usual life is on hold, scientists started to notice improvements in nature around us. Especially in China and Italy. Both countries are epicenters of coronavirus outbreak. Both countries applied full quarantine.
After the virus first appeared in Wuhan, the Chinese government decided to lockdown 11 million people. Quarantine was later extended to 60 million people in province Hubei. Quarantine meant halt of industrial operation and no air, water or road traffic.
Satellite images are showing air in China improved in a span of only 1 month. Animation bellow, using data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, shows the nitrogen dioxide concentrations from 20 December 2019 until 16 March 2020. The drop in concentrations in late-January is visible, coinciding with the nationwide quarantine, and from the beginning of March, the nitrogen dioxide levels have begun to increase.
In Venice, as a side effect of the lockdown of Italy in response to coronavirus, the usually-murky canals are looking crystal clear.
In an attempt to reduce the spread of the disease, Italy’s Prime Minister announced the closing of schools, restaurants, bars, museums and other venues across Italy. Quality of air improved over Northern Italy improved significantly
The animation shows the fluctuation of nitrogen dioxide concentrations across Europe from 1 January 2020 until 11 March 2020, using a 10-day moving average. These data are thanks to the Tropomi instrument onboard the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite which maps a multitude of air pollutants around the globe.
In Polish cities, where social distancing is in place, deer were seen walking down the main streets.
We will defeat the coronavirus outbreak. After we win, it would be great for each of us to do what one of the citizens of Venice in Italy said:
“How beautiful it would it be, after the emergency and once we all returned safely, we remember the beauty we’ve seen reappear around the city these days. It would be nice for people to start thinking about so many things and we all become more responsible and respectful to nature and our fellow people.”
As for the governments, the post-virus world will be a fresh start. Hopefully, our politicians will consider words by Jacqueline Klopp, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University in New York City:
“As we move to restart these economies, we need to use this moment to think about what we value. Do we want to go back to the status quo, or do we want to tackle these big structural problems and restructure our economy and reduce emissions and pollution?”
Planet Earth will survive without us. With no humans, Earth will get clean very fast and reclaim what was taken away from her. We can experience that with our own eyes right now and also measure it scientifically. Reducing pollution is the only way forward to save the Earth. After all, we want Earth to be home also to our children.
We behave as Planet Earth is ours. But we are just renting it. If we don’t start behaving better towards our planet, we will be thrown out. J.R.R Tolkien wrote in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:
“I wish it need not happened in my time,” said Frodo.”So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us”
We can’t choose in what times we are born and what happens to us. But we can choose what decisions we will take. Decisions and actions to face any circumstances are in our control. Start now. Start small. Decide you want to save the planet for our children and grandchildren.
“Small decisions made many times by many people will have a major impact on the future of our planed”
Find some of the actions listed below. The list should give you good guidance on how to save Earth. Use proposals listed or create your own action list which will help make our planet safe and clean.
1. Walk instead of driving
2. Turn the tap off when brushing
3. Take a shower instead of bathing
4. Have a vegetarian day
5. Recycle glass
6. Turn your computer off overnight
7. Plant a tree
8. Buy local products
9. Turn off lights when you’re not in the room
10. Work from home
11. Don’t use plastic carrier bags
12. Don’t use straws
14. Use rechargeable batteries
15. Compost your waste
16. Read a book instead of streaming a movie
17. Share your stuff, if you can
18. Donate your old clothes
19. Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables
20. Carpool to work
21. Use public transport
Do you agree or disagree? What do you think? Did I miss anything that should be essential when it comes to actions everyone can take to save the planet?
This post was previously published on Greener Together and is republished here with permission from the author.
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Photo credit: Peter Preskar