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Under Lockdown, Rivers Ran Clean and Nature Thrived. Now What?

If there was any lingering doubt that humans are having a major negative impact on the natural world, the COVID-19 pandemic has put them all to rest. During the lockdowns, we saw nature bounce back and thrive, with rivers running clear, pollution levels dropping, and wildlife becoming more active.

Now that we are beginning to resume business as usual, what should we make of this temporary change? Is it the wakeup call we needed to respect nature and take better care of it? Where do we go from here?

Was Lockdown Nature’s Way of Taking a Breather from Humans? 

We’ve pushed the resources on our planet to the brink. We’re always seeking out more and more, with little regard for what our consumption will mean for the planet in the future. We see the power of nature in devastating storms and other natural disasters, but we don’t often see the quiet disappearance of animal and plant species that spells even greater danger.

As we’ve pushed nature, it’s pushed back. Climate change has been creating new weather events and deadly viruses have been making the jump from animals to humans. Could this latest pandemic be nature’s way of taking a break from our endless consumption and destruction?

While it’s possible that COVID-19 could be one of the balancing aspects of nature, we also have to think about what it means for the future. It is essential that we take care of other species and protect the environment. Besides losing these precious elements of our world, we’ll also likely open ourselves up to even more pandemics, famine, and more.

How to Remain Respectful of Nature Post-Lockdown

Lockdowns are easing in many areas, despite the growth of the virus in the United States and many other countries. As we begin to move about the world again more freely, it’s important to not only protect yourself from COVID-19 but to have new respect and appreciation for nature.

Right now, outside is the safest place to be besides your own home. Don’t exploit that gift by damaging habitats and green spaces. It’s crucial to follow guidelines for protecting nature while you enjoy it so that we don’t lose even more of our planet’s brilliant biodiversity and comfortable climate.

It’s up to each person to be a good steward. Appreciate nature and think about how your actions affect the ecosystems around you. Teach your children to respect and care for nature. Be a responsible pet owner and pick up after your dog or keep your cat indoors. We all have to take a role in respecting nature post-lockdown.

Implement an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle 

If you haven’t gotten on the sustainability bandwagon yet, now is the time. We still have to deal with issues like industrial carbon footprints, but each person can also help by making small lifestyle adjustments and living a more eco-friendly life.

You can start with little actions. Reduce your food waste and cut down on your energy consumption. Eat less meat. Compost and recycle. Use eco-friendly cleaning products and fewer disposable items. Try repairing items instead of throwing them away!

If you can go a little bigger, consider switching to renewable energy or getting more energy-efficient appliances and electronics. Skip flying and driving whenever possible. Buy local when you can to cut down on energy used to transport food. You don’t have to change everything in your life, but these little eco-friendly actions add up.

Don’t Stay Quiet. Tell Your Family & Friends Too

Not everyone will recognize the importance of preserving the natural world around us on their own. It’s important to spread the word within your network of family and friends to help build awareness and get more people on board with living more sustainably and respecting nature.

But remember, no one likes being told what to do. You’ll never get your friends and family to go green if you lecture them. Instead, try selling people on the personal benefits of going green, like saving money and improving your health.

It’s scary to think about how much we’ve harmed our planet. But it’s important to not let that guilt and fear take over and prevent you from taking action. We all need to work together so that nature can continue to breathe, long after COVID-19 is just a memory.

Ryan Ayers's picture

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 17, 2020 9:40 pm GMT

I think just as impressive as how quickly we saw natural environments thrive like they hadn't in years upon lockdown was how fast it was able to go back to relative 'normal' after that. It shows that doing the environmental thing for the health of the benefit is a long-term transition, not any sort of ripping of a band-aid. Much like you have to eat healthy and exercise consistently to stay healthy rather than crash diet to get that beach body, we need to treat the environment with the same sustained respect and care. 

Do you think we'll be able to use the lessons learned from the lockdown to make sustained action moving forward more actionable and politically viable? 

Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on Sep 26, 2020 5:07 pm GMT

It's encouraging that our eco-systems rebounded the way they did—they are obviously more resiliant than many believed. That being said, I think it would be a mistake to sacrifice human wellbeing for the sake of the enviorment. People are reeling right now from the economic destruction wrought by COVID-19 and getting them back on their feet has to the number priority right now. If the two go hand in hand, great—but if not, too bad. 

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