Lockdowns Are CO2 Breathers Not Erasers

By Ben Hamill - April 09 2020
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Lockdowns Are CO2 Breathers Not Erasers

Earth’s atmosphere is a CO2 bank and we’ve been making deposits to that bank for decades on end. To think that failing to make a deposit for a couple of months in a row is going to completely deplete the funds just doesn’t make any sense. And yet, this is very much the variety of logic that we seem to want to apply now that countries around the globe have been in a state of lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. But scientists are quick to point out that there’s a big difference between CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations of CO2. And so, it makes no sense thinking that the fact that we’ve been forced to hit pause on global emissions by a deadly virus is a slither of a silver lining as far as climate change is concerned.

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Empty Toronto streets, a wide open space devoid of people where New York’s central square once used to be and little to no movement in Milan, Italy, once one of the world’s most important fashion capitals, are just some of the sights that lead us to believe that a precariously negative situation must necessarily also have a wholly unintended; if intention were in fact even part of the bigger picture; positive impact.

Too Little, Too Late

According to Deke Arndt, who is chief of climate monitoring at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, global warming is basically here to stay. And it’s all because of the lag. The warming that we’re witnessing now, says Arndt, is even in present circumstances, still trying to play catch-up with the levels of greenhouse gasses already present in our atmosphere.

It’s sad but it’s true that even though we’ve managed to give mother earth an unintentional breather, it won’t make much of a difference to the bigger picture. A short-term departure from “the trend”, says Arndt, won’t reverse what’s already full-steam on track and what will continue to remain full-steam ahead on track for many more years to come.

He Who Has Ears To Hear

Its furthermore important to keep in mind that the current trend won’t last forever. Once lockdowns are lifted, we’re pretty much picking up where we left off. In fact, it’s reasonable to expect that industries around the world will be open for business on the double in an effort to make up for lost time and lost money. And so, we’ll probably be even worse off in the long run.

We’re simply not the best of stewards, if we can even in fact be stewards called. But at least we’ve been forced to sit in the corner and think about what we’ve done. The only real question is whether we’re going to listen, or whether we’ll be made to face an even more severe punishment in the future.

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