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Silver Lining to the Covid-19 Crisis? 
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Post Silver Lining to the Covid-19 Crisis?
Early in the worldwide shutdown due to the spread of covid-19, I saw two photos of Delhi, India that floored me. One showed the city before economic activity was greatly scaled back--a smogged-in city--and the other of the city days later--blue sky visible. When was the last time blue sky had been seen in Delhi? Many people have remarked on the environmental benefit of the virus crisis. In many sectors, energy use and therefore pollution is down, in some, way down, like the airline industry.

Carbon emissions declined by an estimated 17% across the world in April. Just how significant is that? It's certainly highly significant for the economy, and almost entirely negative (Wal Mart and Home Depot are doing great). Do we at least get a reprieve from the increase in annual carbon emissions? Yes, it appears we will, perhaps around 5% by the end of 2020. By my reckoning, that would be only the second time we've seen an annual decrease, and while that represents a lot of carbon not sent into the atmosphere, it's not the -8% the UN says is needed year after year to avoid the worst effects of climate change. And once the economy gets rolling again, there is little reason to think the decrease will continue. So, tremendous pain, little gain, is the takeaway from this pandemic. Any silver lining is microscopically thin.

As the article below says, behavior changes are less significant in reducing carbon output than might be expected. Broad "structural change" in energy use is mandatory. Although the topic isn't addressed in the article, this is also where advocates of climate engineering or geoengineering come in to say we need to face the facts: we can't have the advanced economy we cherish unless we lower the planet's thermostat. We might not know exactly how best to do that, but we can probably succeed through trial and error.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate- ... rc404=true



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ant, geo
Wed May 20, 2020 7:27 am
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Post Re: Silver Lining to the Covid-19 Crisis?
I've heard lately there's been a boom in bicycle sales, so people are getting out and riding more. And because there are fewer cars on the road, bicyclists have less traffic to deal with (and cleaner air too!). It would be nice to see this trend continue. Americans would get more exercise and live healthier lifestyles.

The stock market and economic growth are too often seen as the sole criteria of human prosperity. I'm inclined to think we spend far too much time buying stuff and rushing around (driving usually), doing this and that. Of course, if you live in poverty, you really have no choice in the matter. You work to put food on the table and a roof over your head. But there are also a lot of people who have plenty and, yet, they still run around like crazy. If you have children, you're expected to get them into competitive sports and drive them to games, sometimes in towns that are several hours away. We forget to stop and smell the roses, as it were. If we were invaded by aliens, our government would probably respond by issuing stimulus checks. So if there's a silver lining, I think maybe it gives us a chance to slow down a little and realize there's more to life than acquiring stuff.


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ant, DWill
Wed May 20, 2020 10:14 am
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Post Re: Silver Lining to the Covid-19 Crisis?
Yes, I agree this is a potential silver lining to all this.

Employers should also think of keeping in place teleworking. People that can work from home should just stay home. That would keep all the related traffic and dirty emissions in check more.

Some tech companies (like Twitter) have announced they are now permanently allowing their employees to work from home.
This also might lead to people picking up and leaving congested cities for more affordable rural areas, which in turn might lead to lower costs of living in cities. I know I am strongly considering leaving Los Angeles. Cities are hotspots just waiting to happen.



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DWill, geo
Wed May 20, 2020 10:26 am
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Post Re: Silver Lining to the Covid-19 Crisis?
I'm with both you and geo on how the enforced inactivity can teach us how to improve our lives in certain ways, and increase efficiency, if we don't revert to the way things were. Zoom meetings probably reinforce the lesson that most meetings don't need to involve people converging on a location. We have Zoom Unitarian church meetings now, and though I think that technology is clearly deficient in regard to the whole purpose of religion, why not continue to have one meeting a month via Zoom and cut the congregation's carbon footprint? I've been pretty addicted to the NCAA basketball tournaments (men's and women's). But you know what? I didn't miss them at all, easily finding things to fill in the time. How much CO2 was kept from the atmosphere by the cancellation of all that travel? It must be an enormous amount. The cancellation means lost livelihoods in the end, though, so that's the really tough part. I don't need to worry about losing my job because I don't have one.

The article wasn't about immediate improvements we can realize in our lives, of course. I believe that climate change is a huge threat to general well-being, and that our economic activity has driven most of the rise in temperature. It's discouraging to see the demonstration of what would need to happen for us to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas output--essentially, an economic depression. That's under the current energy regime, which is still overwhelmingly carbon-based. More walking and cycling are great, but sadly they're going to make only a tiny dent in our overall emissions. Even the tournament cancellations didn't make that much of a difference by themselves, so huge is our fossil fuel consumption. Robert Tulip has been saying this for years, and that's why he sees geoengineering as the only effective solution.



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Sun May 24, 2020 7:23 am
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