Did the corona virus just save the Earth?

by Rhea and Eric Harmsen

A recent picture taken of the atmosphere over Italy just showed a significant decrease in pollution over that country, correlated with its coronavirus lockdown. It even talked of fish and dolphins coming back into the canals of Venice when the boats and ferries stopped churning up the muddy waters. Country after country has locked down or decreased its industry and car use.

What is the impact of shutting down our society on climate change? Will it buy us time? Did it decrease CO2 output? Did it decrease the temperature or at least keep it from rising as quickly? Did we just succeed in doing what was on Greta’s fervent wish list? Did we just give the earth a breather so she can recover a little bit?

When we restart our economies up again, what can we keep from our current shutdown that would benefit the earth and the climate? Does working from home need to become the new normal so that we drastically reduce our automobile pollution? Do we actually need to congregate in order to do all of our jobs? Do we need to relocate our young adults to physical colleges in order to educate them? Do we need to air condition or heat hundreds of millions of square feet of offices? If Justin Trudeau can do his job as prime minister from home while minding three kids, can’t we?

Isn’t the lack of pollution we are seeing proof positive that fossil fuel energy needs to be changed to green sources? Is there anything we can do when industry starts up again to keep it from spewing venomous pollution into the air? And what about air travel? Can we not start to build electric planes? Or find some other form of green energy for planes?

This is an opportunity. This is a moment. We have so many questions. Climate scientists need to model this and to compare their past and present models. This is a big change but is this change even detectable in their models?  Does it put us on a new trajectory?   This scenario (massive decrease in CO2 output) is better than the best-case scenario that climate change accords could even dream of. And all countries are forced to participate whether they want to or not. With the coronavirus, governments are forced to react to the projections of infections and death by the medical scientists. They are slower, however, to react to the projections of the climate change scientists. Maybe we should be stressing the number of projected deaths from climate change instead of the number of degrees of temperature rise.

But the question is, where do we go from here? We have a few weeks or a few months to answer these questions before we start business as usual again. So, let’s get it right. Let’s honor all this suffering and death and find some answers.



About rheaharmsen

Rhea Harmsen is a scientist, novelist and author of Language of the Spirit, a volume of selected poems. She has also released three novels, The Harvest of Reason, Intermarry, and God Created Women. Harmsen was born in a family with a black father and a white mother at a time when interracial marriage was still illegal in some states. Her parents gave her a vision of world citizenship that informs her writing and her lifestyle and has caused her to reject traditional views of race and gender. Harmsen's article "Science in the Hands of Women: Present Barriers, Future Promise" appeared in World Order in 1998 and provides the foundation for the story line for her novel The Harvest of Reason. She co-published the Monroeville Race Unity Forum Bulletin and authored many poems on racial topics, crystallizing the "conversation on race" in the novel Intermarry. Her work with domestic violence survivors in Puerto Rico inspired the novel God Created Women. Harmsen holds a doctorate in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She currently resides in Puerto Rico. Upcomming projects are described in her web page at rheaharmsen.com
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3 Responses to Did the corona virus just save the Earth?

  1. Idalia Morales-Scimeca says:

    HOLA Rhea. HOLA Eric. This article is so timely. Yes, we do need to rethink how we go about our daily life and economic enterprises.

  2. Carolyn Reynolds says:

    Great commentary Rhea. Love it. Thanks.


  3. Ruth Dimmitt says:

    Thank you Rhea. Very well written of the positive possibilities of the future changes if we use our positive energy and spiritual awareness of what needs to be done. I hope to hear more from you that I might share with others.

    Ruth Dimmitt

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