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‘Tip of the iceberg’: Is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?

by John Vidal, The Guardian


Highlights:

As humans continue to encroach on wildland for development, the exposure to more zoonotic diseases increases, which could cause more pandemics: 

  • As more people log, mine, and develop roads and towns in tropic forests and other important wildlife habitats, humans increase their chances of contracting diseases and unknown viruses
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that three-quarters of new or emerging diseases that infect humans originate in animals
  • Zoonotic diseases that have infected humans in the past include ebola, SARS, MERS, rabies, lyme, and the plague
  • In 2008 researchers identified 335 diseases that emerged within the last 50 years and around 60% came from animals
  • Diseases are likely to spring up in both natural and urban environments as densely packed cities have bats and rodent populations that can carry viruses
  • “Wet markets” around the world selling wild animals and bushmeat along with produce have mass potential to be large hosts of various pathogens and zoonotic diseases 

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that we ignore the science at our own peril and early action saves lives.  To avert dire consequences in-state and to inspire greater climate action worldwide, California must accelerate its climate leadership and policy timelines now.


Read More: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/18/tip-of-the-iceberg-is-our-destruction-of-nature-responsible-for-covid-19-aoe

Traffic and pollution plummet as U.S. cities shut down for Coronavirus


Highlights:

Major cities across the United States are experiencing decreases in traffic and, subsequently, decreases in air pollution due to self-isolation mandates in various areas.

  • Nitrogen dioxide emissions have dropped dramatically and traffic jams have virtually stopped in Los Angeles. Traffic was reportedly moving 71 percent faster than usual during the typical rush hour time frame
  • The Bay Area ordered 6.7 million residents to shelter in place which has cut traffic on the Bay Bridge roughly 40% compared with two weeks ago
  • Similar results were seen in the Seattle area, where downtown morning traffic declined by 40% and traffic on weekends has plummeted as well
  • In New York City, residents are less dependent on car travel than in other metro areas, but vehicle traffic has still seen a steep drop-off as office buildings, schools and restaurants have closed
  • Researchers at Columbia University have seen emissions of carbon monoxide over New York City decline more than 50 percent below typical levels over the past week
  • While the decrease in emissions is good news for the climate, it’s likely temporary and there are better ways to reduce emissions that don’t overload the health care system and cause unemployment

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign includes solutions in clean mobility that will reduce emissions over the long term. Endorse our Climate-Safe California platform here.


Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/03/22/climate/coronavirus-usa-traffic.html?

How changes brought on by coronavirus could help tackle climate change

by Glen Peters, The Conversation


Highlights:

  • Carbon emissions are dropping due to reduced energy consumption, but previous financial crises and events have led to lower emissions only temporarily. At best, a financial crisis delays emissions growth a few years. 
  • So far forecasts still indicate the global economy will grow in 2020. For example, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) downgraded estimates of global growth in 2020 from 3% (made in November 2019) to 2.4% (made in March 2020). The International Monetary Fund has indicated similar declines, with an update due next month.
  • Under the worst-case OECD forecast, the global economy in 2020 could grow as little as 1.5%. All else equal, this would lead to a 1.2% decline in carbon dioxide emissions in 2020.
  • While air travel accounts for 2.6% of global emissions, fears of becoming sick due to air travel may discourage people from flying for months or even years if the virus persists. 
  • The quick widespread adoption of working-from-home to avoid exposure could be longer lasting than the pandemic itself, leading to long-term emissions reductions
  • There is an opportunity to invest government stimulus money in lasting structural changes for reduced emissions after economic growth returns

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that we ignore the science at our own peril and early action saves lives. Fortunately, California is demonstrating how leadership and working across political boundaries can make a difference– on the coronavirus as well as climate change. The latest science demands bold and swift climate solutions to avoid runaway climate chaos. We must accelerate climate policy timelines now to achieve urgently required emissions reductions, carbon-sequestering ecosystems, and resilient communities by 2030. Endorse and support our Climate-Safe California campaign today for accelerated climate action in-state that will also catalyze efforts globally. Together we will secure a vibrant, healthy and climate-safe future for all. Learn more>>


Read More: https://theconversation.com/how-changes-brought-on-by-coronavirus-could-help-tackle-climate-change-133509

Why the coronavirus outbreak is terrible news for climate change

by James Temple, MIT Technology Review


Highlights

  • First and foremost, the whole point of addressing global warming is to avoid widespread suffering and death, so climate activists should keep this lens
  • Greenhouse gas emissions rebound is likely after the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19), as history tells us for several reasons:
    • If capital markets lock up, it’s going to become very difficult for companies to secure the financing cleantech projects
    • Global oil prices have taken a historic plunge, and cheap gas could make electric vehicles, already more expensive, a harder sell for consumers.
    • China, where the outbreak started, produces a huge share of the world’s solar panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and grid storage projects. Now Chinese companies are having supply issues as well as declines in production and shipments.
    • Threatened clampdowns on trade with China may further disrupt these clean-energy supply chain and distribution networks
    • More immediate health and financial concerns may divert public attention away from climate change. 
  • However, coronavirus could catalyze some climate action:
    • A sustained drop in oil prices could make longer-term investments in clean energy more attractive for major energy players
    • Some nations may respond to an economic crisis with stimulus efforts that pump money into clean energy and climate adaption
    • Coronavirus could bring about long-lasting shifts in carbon-intensive behaviors, if people remain fearful of flying and cruise ships, or come to prefer remote working and virtual gatherings.
    • Our rapid responses in the face of an acute danger show that we can make the sorts of dramatic societal changes demanded by the climate change

The Climate Center’s vision for hope for a vibrant, healthy, and equitable future for all can be realized with our rapid decarbonization campaign that translates the urgent need for bold action and the groundswell of public support into actual speed and scale greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.


Read more: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615338/coronavirus-emissions-climate-change/