Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir
Did you ever think that Mother Earth must be using this Pandemic to take revenge on humanity for trashing the environment? The decimation of the Amazon rainforest, slash and burn farming, and the use of fossil fuels warms the earth, and hydraulic fracking triggers earthquakes. Mother Earth strikes back when her vital organs suffer. It turns out that April 22 is Earth Day, so I thought it is an appropriate time to consider ways in which our “Covid-converted” environment might prevail.
In this issue, you’ll see how the COVID-19 crisis is giving the earth a breather enabling us to improve our environment by recycling our electronic devices, increase investment in renewable energy, and plan more sustainable practices as we face the climate crisis.
COVID-19 Crisis Spurs Triple-digit Growth for Refurbishing Companies
The impact of the devices we use is usually unseen and unquestioned. Unfortunately, producing a few hundred million smartphones, tablets, and other devices and appliances can have a nasty environmental impact. For example, over 6,300,000 tons of E-waste was produced in 2018 by the US.
Back Market encourages customers to send in their old devices so they can be refurbished and resold into the e-commerce secondhand market. … For people who are unsure whether refurbished products are reliable, Back Market permits customers to send in old devices, exchange them for newer versions and pay the difference. … “We don’t release the gross merchandise volume, but it’s a three-digit growth rate,” Hug de Larauze told TechCrunch.
Good News: While the COVID-19 crisis has hurt many small businesses and startups, recycling companies are growing. Growth is partly due to increased demand for laptops, printers, and other devices needed for those working at home.
Oil Companies Are Collapsing, but Wind and Solar Energy Keep Growing
You might expect that in the current COVID-19 environment of falling gas and oil prices, that investment in renewable energy like wind and solar would be hurting.
Of course, the economic slowdown caused by the fight against the coronavirus is taking a toll on parts of the renewable energy industry just as it is on the rest of the economy. Businesses that until recently were adding workers are laying people off and putting off investments. Among the hardest hit are smaller companies that sell solar panels for rooftops. Their orders have dropped steeply as customers put off installations to avoid possible contact with the virus.
Good News: The expected drop in funding renewable energy is NOT happening! Renewable energy sources will account for nearly 21 percent of the electricity that the US uses this year, up from 10 percent in 2010. Industry analysts expect the renewable business to continue growing in 2020 as oil, gas, and coal companies struggle financially or even go bankrupt.
Conservation Center Assesses the Impact of COVID-19 on the Environment
There is no doubt that the Pandemic is giving the earth a breather. Air quality is improving, and there is less noise pollution affecting people and wildlife. Unfortunately, some sustainable practices are being put on hold, such as discouraging the reuse of shopping bags for fear of transferring coronavirus.
COVID-19 poses a major threat to human health during this pandemic. However, effects on the natural environment are less black and white. … the consequences of the pandemic, such as the shutdown of businesses, presents a unique opportunity to plan for other climate related changes to everyday life.
Good News: We have an opportunity as a result of the economic shutdown to alter some of our bad habits and renew our efforts to live a more sustainable life.
We can choose to move forward and create more sustainable and resilient communities and prepare for the shock that might come from a climate changed world.
I guess you could say there is a small silver lining to the Pandemic. This is not to minimize the suffering as we mourn the loss of life and struggle financially. Even when we have a treatment and a vaccine for COVID-19, our life may never fully return to the life we knew, but that may be a good thing.
We may have a new respect for the fragility of ourselves and our planet. I’m optimistic that we will realize that all of us don’t have to commute to our downtown office, will have overhauled our antiquated healthcare system, improved our social safety net, and will be far better prepared for the next environmental challenge.
Stay home and stay safe!
Dr. Rod Murray
P.S. Organizations like Environment America are also working to ensure that when the Pandemic resolves, US policies and practices will provide a cleaner, safer, and better world.
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