With the health of the environment and the health of our population on everyone’s mind today, it is time to consider how the world might look in the future, and what choices we can make to work towards a better future.
Many global practices are becoming more important and relevant as we navigate our way into the future with mindfulness not before seen in our global community.
Late March, an annual global movement, Earth Hour, engaged more than 180 countries and territories as a catalyst for positive environmental impact by harnessing the power of the people to make a choice. Instigated by the WWF as a symbolic one-hour ‘lights-out’ event in 2007 Sydney, Australia, Earth Hour is an initiative to encourage individuals, businesses and governments around the world to take accountability for their ecological footprint and engage in dialogue and resource exchange that provides real solutions to our environmental challenges.
In Bali, Indonesia, NYEPI is an annual ‘lights out’ ceremony where the island shuts down for 24 hours with no lights, no internet, no movement outside of the house, just total silence. Although this is a Balinese Hindu religious holiday to welcome the Balinese new year, all residents of Bali enjoy the noticeably clearer skies due to a reduction in vehicular activity and emissions just for one day.
In 2020, due to the Coronavirus impact, NYEPI was extended by a further 24 hours.
Earth Day is on 22 April each year, and 2020 marks it’s 50th anniversary. Earth Day was a unified response to an environment in crisis — oil spills, smog, rivers so polluted they caught fire.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population at the time — took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet.
The first Earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event. In 2016, the United Nations chose Earth Day as the day when the historic Paris Agreement on climate change was signed into force.
To participate in Earth Day, awareness and mindfulness are key – make choices to reduce your emissions, lower your carbon footprint and spend the day paying attention to how you live your life.
Global restrictions on travel, commerce and traditional lifestyle due to the current CoVid-19 Pandemic have been challenging and not without negative effects on families, businesses and communities. When faced with these challenges, it is important to see the (green) light at the end of the tunnel, or the (regenerating) trees through the forest!
Showing the change in air quality over China between January and February 2020.
Some facts to show just how much impact has been made in the past 2 months of forced emission reduction, movement restriction through lockdown and travel minimization:
Dolphins have been seen in Venice, swimming in the clearest waters in the area in over 60 years
CO2 emissions in Italy and Spain have dropped by as much as 20%
In March, 25% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions are reported through parts of Asia
A hole in the Ozone layer is repairing at a faster rate than previously seen
The Himalayan Mountain range can be seen for the first time from neighboring provinces
The unprecedented decline in pollution in leading toxic air hubs including Los Angeles, Bangkok, Beijing, Paris, Phoenix, Shanghai, São Paulo, and Bogotá has resulted in clearer skies and waterways
Showing the change in pollution over Wuhan, China between January 2019 and February 2020.
In a stunning example, in Delhi, air quality index (AQI) levels are usually a severe 200 on a good day (anything above 25 is deemed unsafe by the World Health Organization). During peak pollution periods last year, they soared well into a life-threatening 900 and sometimes off the measurable scale. But as Delhi’s 11m registered cars were taken off the roads and factories and construction were ground to a halt, AQI levels have regularly fallen below 20. The skies are suddenly a rare, piercing blue. Even the birdsong seems louder.
Tomorrow Is In Your Hands
As we look forward to when the world returns to a new normal in the coming months and years, this positive change will be negated quickly as industry re-starts and speeds up production to make up the gaps from months of hibernations. Polluting energy sources will make a comeback due to the lower cost of harmful energy sources.
Structural changes are needed to continue to see a positive impact. While celebrating this positive impact on our environment seems wrong in a time of suffering, as a global community, the time has never been better to make the changes only a consumer can make, and that is to support eco-aware, green, considerate habits.
MUTE International is a global e-bike and scooter membership collective that provide an alternative to petrol vehicles for urban transport. MUTE Garage Shanghai has over 3,000 e-bikes on the roads in China, with a waiting list of over 500. MUTE Garage Bali has just launched a new fleet of electric scooters, or e-bikes, that has been enthusiastically welcomed by a responsible community of both ex-pat and local Bali residents who love the reduction of noise, the zero-emissions, no petrol spend, and the fact that they can choose to walk towards a greener future.
As Global Earth Day approaches on 22 April, please take the time to think about your choices and know that YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.