The Covid-19 pandemic has already caused more than 90,000 deaths worldwide (lemonde.fr). Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN, announced on Wednesday April 1 that the Earth was going through its “worst world crisis since the UN was founded” in 1945. But what have we noticed?
If humans are experiencing a serious health crisis, our planet Earth is doing rather better. Planes grounded, events canceled, travel banned, factories shut down: if the coronavirus has led the world into an economic crisis since that of 2008, it has resulted in a drop in greenhouse gas emissions. Some silver lining we often say.
A health crisis, a moment of sigh for the environment
In February 2020, gas emissions in China, one of the most polluted countries in the world, fell by 25% compared to the same period in 2019 according to the Energy and Clean Air Research Center. All over the world, people are breathing better because of reduced air pollution. In Benin, the ban on public transport has greatly reduced the emission of exhaust gases by small buses circulating in large cities commonly called "Tokpa-Tokpa" which largely pollute the atmosphere of Cotonou and its surroundings. . A finding also made in many large cities around the world where confinement is the golden rule to prevent the spread of the virus.
For researcher Joeri Rogelj, who contributes to the work of the IPCC, we must not claim victory too quickly: the ecological improvement will be short-lived. “The emission reductions linked to the coronavirus are not structural. They will disappear as soon as the transport of goods and people is restored after the epidemic, ”he predicts.
Many countries are already in the process of reviving their economy. State central banks cut rates to stimulate the economy; it reminds us of the 2008 financial crisis.
Wouldn't the coronavirus crisis after all be an ecological crisis?
In the case of the new Sars-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, it would seem that it was the pangolin that allowed the mutation of the latter and made its transmission to humans easy, explained the Ecologist of the health Serge Morand, Research Director at the CNRS in France, one of the countries heavily affected by the coronavirus. According to him, the responsibility of man in this crisis lies in the destruction of biodiversity, which increases the risks of epidemics. In Africa especially, many people live mainly on products from the forest and this favors their contact with domestic animals and humans. The fact that viruses that so far remained in bats in Asia are reaching humans is new and directly linked to their loss of habitat. This brings them closer to pets.
Since the 1960s, epidemics have been more common in humans than ever before, and the interconnection between countries is only growing, these epidemics are quickly becoming pandemics. The loss of biodiversity, the industrialization of agriculture and the surge in the transport of goods and people are consequences of globalization that favor the spread of epidemics.
To avoid this health and even ecological crisis in the future, biodiversity must be preserved. Governments must enact laws prohibiting the consumption of wild animals not only to protect these animals but also to protect humans from possible further contamination. In addition, there is an urgent need to improve forest governance and fight against wildlife crime, with the aim of protecting the living space of wildlife. Preserving biodiversity requires identifying, quantifying and managing natural heritage and ecosystem services.