Coronavirus Environmental Effects Q&A
April 24, 2020
As we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day this week, a lot of thought-provoking questions and topics have been circulating. We couldn't think of anyone better to help make sense of the current and future state of our planet, than Environmental Consultant, Gunnar Oberhoesel.
Thank you Gunnar for the refreshing take on where our planet is heading and for reminding us that change takes time, so we might as well enjoy the journey!
In the last two years people around the world have used social media to shed a light on to the tragic life after plastic - with a great success. We have become aware that plastic is destroying us and our natural world.
The current increase in sales of protection gear is understandably driven by our growing cautiousness. I am not against the use of masks and gloves, but we have to understand that those items are single-use. Once contaminated, they become non-recyclable. All too often we then find them carelessly discarded next to our sidewalks.
While I think this increase is a temporary phenomena, it is more worrisome that the plastic industry has taken advantage of the crisis. We've seen a spread of misinformation about plastic and even urges for states to rollback plastic bans.
From a long term perspective the days of plastic are numbered and we'll see a further decrease in the following years. Plastic will become less attractive the more alternatives are available. A new age of consumerism has begun where people are willing to spend extra money for more sustainable solutions.
It is proven that deforestation and the loss of wildlife increases the risk of infectious diseases like the Coronavirus. Along with our excessive use of plastic and fossil fuels, it is clear that we will face a dim future if we continue with “business as usual”.
In the next years we will experience a lack of funds and rising unemployment. It will however become increasingly evident that protecting nature, investing in renewable energy and promoting sustainability is a safe bet in the future.
Take one of the strongest economies in Latin America. Despite its small size, Costa Rica is internationally recognised for its focus on eco-tourism and protection of biodiversity. It is set to become the first plastic-free and carbon-free country by 2021.
The World Economic Forum mentioned that a dollar spend on nature restoration, can lead to 9 dollars of economic benefits in return.
The example of Costa Rica shows that it there is indeed an economic return on protecting wildlife and investing in sustainability.
Being under lockdown fuels our desire to be outdoors. Connecting with nature is evidently good for body and soul. There is also a clear indication that people who spend more time outside, are more willing to protect nature.
I think this is a thought worth considering: Everyone can contribute to a greener future and positive environmental effects.
We can take this chaotic situation to redesign our economic and social systems. To focus on planetary health and lead more heated discussions on universal basic income, a circular and zero growth economy.
Today many organisations, non-profits and campaigns like ‘Fridays for Future’ take their stance online. Often with great success.
I do believe that we will see a further increase in online, worldwide collaboration. It is our best chance to reach millions of people and share our world view with them
I personally feel good about keeping a healthy and mostly vegetarian diet. In recent years I also switched from plastic to reusable containers and generally buy less. My rule of thumb: Instead of buying a pair of jeans instantly, I think about my purchase for a full week. After that I am sure if I actually need it.
This works great for me, but I am also aware that I am lacking in other parts. I fly a lot between Europe and Africa. This is not ideal and I do compensate CO2, but to me it is most important that everyone starts doing something. Every bit of effort counts.
It makes us feel positive and other people might acknowledge our change in behaviour. This will automatically lead us to expand our green journey to other areas.
Change takes time, so we might as well enjoy the journey