Day 2 of isolation – time to ponder our way of living

So far for me isolation at home is easy. I have very good company, and I have spent all days this week working from home anyway, so yesterday was much the same.

I’m enjoying working from home, but after a busy start to the week as clients were busy setting themselves up to work from home and rushing to get payrolls done before closing offices, it was noticeably quieter yesterday. I have other work I can do, but I don’t know if it will last four weeks.

Some messages from NZ First MPs.

A reversal:

Guardian environment editor – Coronavirus: ‘Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief

Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis, according to the UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen.

Andersen said humanity was placing too many pressures on the natural world with damaging consequences, and warned that failing to take care of the planet meant not taking care of ourselves.

Leading scientists also said the Covid-19 outbreak was a “clear warning shot”, given that far more deadly diseases existed in wildlife, and that today’s civilisation was “playing with fire”. They said it was almost always human behaviour that caused diseases to spill over into humans.

To prevent further outbreaks, the experts said, both global heating and the destruction of the natural world for farming, mining and housing have to end, as both drive wildlife into contact with people.

I’ve heard others make links between the virus and climate change and the environment and I think it is dubious at best.

Sure if the human population was a tenth what it is and no one travelled apart from walking then viruses and other contagious diseases would spread less quickly and less far, but I don’t think modern humans are any more responsible for naural mutations than past civilisations.

Aaron Bernstein, at the Harvard School of Public Health in the US, said the destruction of natural places drives wildlife to live close to people and that climate change was also forcing animals to move: “That creates an opportunity for pathogens to get into new hosts.”

“We’ve had Sars, Mers, Covid-19, HIV. We need to see what nature is trying to tell us here. We need to recognise that we’re playing with fire,” he said.

“The separation of health and environmental policy is a ​dangerous delusion. Our health entirely depends on the climate and the other organisms we share the planet with.”

Maybe, but 7.8 billion people need somewhere to live and need food to survive.

The Covid-19 crisis may provide an opportunity for change, but Cunningham is not convinced it will be taken: “I thought things would have changed after Sars, which was a massive wake up call – the biggest economic impact of any emerging disease to that date,” he said.

What sort of change? Reversing population growth?

Here from Newsroom: Covid-19 may be just what climate change needs

Big jolts wake us up and force us to act today. Gina Williams looks at how the Covid-19 pandemic might give us the chance to redesign our society to combat climate change.

Things like no cars, no meat, no international travel, no business or commercialism?

Right now use of cars is limited of course, but they help us keep in our bubbles going to supermarkets to get food. If everyone had to walk to a local dairy for provisions it would be much harder to lock down the virus.

Nature has always had ways of checking and limiting and reducing species of plants and animals that grow too prolifically.

Should we just let Covid-19 to knock the population  back? That would be getting back to nature, letting nature take it’s course.

There’s been a bit of idealist opportunism alongside the rapid sweep of Covid-19. Now is not a good time to make maajor knee jerk changes. We are in survival mode. lets get through the next year and then see what we should be doing differently.


But maybe with most of us confined to our homes with a lot less to do this could be a good time to contemplate the situation we and our society become, and to consider better ways of living.

There already seems to have been renewed interest in growing more food at home and cooking and baking from raw ingredients rather than relying on fast food and packets.

We will also have to work harder on relationships. Many of us will be spending a lot more time with a few people close to us for longer than usual.

There could be an opportunity for online nutrition advice and relationship counselling – but perhaps we should be working things out for ourselves more rather than relying on paid for quick fixes that often don’t work for long or at all.

 

“Ten biggest threats to nature in the city”

An Auckland University study, using experts from New Zealand, Australia and the UK, and has identified “the ten biggest future threats to nature in the city” .

Some of these so-called threats may be a surprise.

Top 10 threats to nature in the city

A new study, led by researchers in the University of Auckland’s School of Biological Sciences, brought together experts from Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand to identify current trends and new technologies that pose the biggest threat to urban ecosystems.

The list includes advances in technology aimed at lessening human impact on the environment.

“We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater – some of these new technologies bring a range of environmental benefits,” lead author Dr Margaret Stanley says.

“But clever solutions are going to be needed to mitigate threats to urban biodiversity if we are to maintain our connection with nature as we become increasingly urbanised.”

There is growing evidence that the natural world is a benefit to human health and wellbeing, particularly if more and more of us are going to be living in cities in the future, the study authors say.

Top 10 Potential threats

  1. Health demands on greenspace: As more people are encouraged to use green urban spaces for exercise, these spaces can become highly maintained for people rather than wildlife; with more tracks, artificial lighting and fewer plants.
  2. Digital replacement of nature: There is a risk that nature in cities could be replaced with digital equivalents of nature, such as images and sound recordings. This gives people some of the benefits of nature, but without the maintenance and messy side of nature, however it could lead to city dwellers undervaluing nature in their immediate environment.
  3. Scattered cremains (material resulting from cremation): There has been a growing trend for cremation as space for burial of human remains is at a premium. However, in some cities land for interring cremains has become very expensive and scattering cremains has become more culturally acceptable. Because of high levels of phosphate and calcium in cremains, there is a risk of polluting urban ecosystems and waterways.
  4. Spread of disease by urban cats: Globally, there are now more than 600 million pet cats, and the increase in pet cat ownership is resulting in the disease toxoplasma spilling over into wildlife populations, in urban areas as well as to species in more remote locations, such as the endangered Hector’s dolphin.
  5. Switch to LED lights: Cities across the globe are switching their lighting technology to LED lights. However, the whiter spectrum of LED lights overlaps with the visual systems of wildlife and can disrupt their physiology and behaviour.
  6. Solar cities: Many cities are implementing city-wide solar panel installation programmes. However, solar panels can disrupt the behaviour and reproduction of animals that are attracted to the polarised light they produce.
  7. Nanotechnology: Nanoparticles (e.g. graphene) are now an increasing but invisible part of cities, found in everything from smartphones to clothing. However, there has been almost no research on the effects of these particles on animals, plants and entire ecosystems.
  8. Self-healing concrete: This is a new concrete product infused with specialised bacteria is about to be commercialised. If use of this product becomes widespread, it could spell the end for the often unique biodiversity that currently manages to thrive in cracked concrete all around cities.
  9. Energy efficient homes: Many countries are implementing large-scale retrofitting of buildings to make them more energy efficient. However, this effectively seals the building off from the outside, resulting in loss of breeding sites for wildlife such as bats and nesting birds.
  10. Drones: The recent popularity of using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) in cities is likely to result in issues for wildlife, such as nesting birds, which are particularly sensitive to stress and repeated aerial disturbance.

The study is published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.