An article on the environment by Isabel Camara.
Isabel Camara is a student at New Rochelle High School who is interested in environmental science, specifically sustainability, and all things nature-related.
Unbeknownst to surrounding populations, both the Autumn months and isolation policies have induced the inauguration of harmonious melodies—crackling eggshells—beneath the Brazilian coastline’s surface. Unbeknownst to Hawksbill sea turtles, a contagious pandemic has left millions inside—restricted from any potential encroachment. A dip appears in the sand. Expanding, grains of sand descend, caving in towards the hatchlings. A crater simply exhibiting the horizon, yet granting the squirming marine creatures a pathway to their forever home: the Atlantic. Emerging from the sand, miniature heads and fins struggle their delicate bodies out of their nests. Finally liberated, a rush of instinct washes over one to swiftly trek towards the ocean waves. Another two follow, advancing with the dragging of their flippers across the warm, promising sand. Over ninety brothers and sisters soon follow the march. The coastline is extensively decorated with a patchwork of the Hawksbills bodies—an unprecedented event for the endangered species.
If you had read the news in the early spring months of 2020, it is likely you came across the highly publicized images of Northern Italy’s reduction of air pollution or the Great Himalayas exposed to the clearing skies. As human civilization is adhering to stay-at-home orders from officials due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Earth has irrefutably had a colossal weight lifted from its shoulders. Greenhouse gas emissions have dived since the pandemic, according to the Global Carbon Project emissions lowered at a peak of 26% on average internationally. Improved air quality yielded a newfound visibility of dolphins in Italian canals and the slowing process of ocean acidification—it is undeniable the devastating pandemic has given wildlife and our oceans breaths of fresh air free from human interference, a much needed pause. Although valuable for stalling the release of emissions, the way the coronavirus pandemic began and has been combated against proves even more significant to the fight towards a permanently restored natural world. The agitation of an already imbalanced relationship between humans and nature ignited the global disease, as pressure on the wildlife in an unsanitary wet market facilitated an unnatural transaction between humans and bats. The way world leaders and their populations united against the spread of the pandemic—utilizing governmental policies and effective changes to our normal lives—demonstrates that drastic action can be done to global crises that are taken seriously. If recognized as mankind’s wake-up call and essentially the instruction manual for modern civilization, the coronavirus can prove to be the revivification of productive and ambitious actions to combat climate change.
The oceans are not irreversibly disrupted yet. Renewal and rebirth are possible if humans recognize a changing climate is as dire and devastating a situation as a pandemic. A demarcation exists between the two, however. As a pandemic is immediately active in its destructive course, a changing climate presents a gradual process, getting overwhelmingly overlooked for this reason. Oceans are both fragile and resilient; they have both persisted and succumbed to the adverse effects of rising temperatures. But rebuilding the blue infrastructure is possible with immediate action—and this must be acknowledged. The global pause as a consequence of COVID-19 must be reflected on the environmental crisis: improvements are possible—and are happening before our eyes—but this can only be perpetuated by effective and collective human efforts. Plans and policies must be deliberately crafted with the notion humans can coexist with nature. Protecting what is on the Earth with extensive efforts backed by science and conscience would ensure this. Putting an end to exploitation and disturbances to the vulnerable natural world pivots on perseverance, policy, and payment and, most importantly, a united vision for a clean planet.
Achieving a sustainable future requires civil action: you. If communities are committed to making changes both on an individual and local scale, there, undeniably, is hope. Reducing the usage of single-use plastics, purchasing sustainably sourced fish and products that are safe for aquatic life, and participating in beach clean-ups are three simple efforts that can be made by any ordinary individual. Utilize reusable items, lessen consumption of animal products, condemn throwaway culture—the oceans will thank you. Our oceans are not only visually pleasing with their beautiful biodiversity and blue waters that seemingly extend to infinity beyond the power of our human limit but present humans with a massive carbon sink potential that can absorb global warming induced heat and a key renewable energy resource, among other irresistibly beneficent factors to the human race. By voting on a local and national scale for politicians who partner themselves in the ecological crisis, civilians actively make a difference. Policies like the Global Ocean Treaty and the Paris Agreement must be signed by governments to conserve marine life and curb greenhouse gas emissions, and laws like the Endangered Species Act must continue to be enforced, added to, and adaptive to the complex changes of the changing climate. It is through policies that eco-conscience regulations can be enforced, habitats can be protected, and restoration and technological projects can be worked towards and funded. Destructive fishing practices and excessive nutrient inputs into our oceans can no longer be condoned. Ambitious funds must be channeled towards technologies and practices that are non-polluting and non-damaging. Developing safer materials while simultaneously investing in a circular economy for existing plastics, providing incentives for those to recycle on a global scale would be instrumental in protecting our extraordinary seas.
As current recovery actions continue to be propagated, creative solutions are sought after, and scientific and political advances are committed towards a sustainable future, a balance between the natural world and human civilization is promised. Although currently presented with the hope of a better tomorrow, action must be taken seriously and swiftly, as according to the Nature Journal a “substantial recovery (that is, 50-90%) of many components of marine life” is possible by the year 2050 if such efforts examined above are met. But, truly, recent occurrences have shown such efforts are capable of being met. Treating the changing climate like a pandemic might sound silly, but, to the core, both are man-made human crises as a result of imbalances and unstable treatment with the natural world.
Just as the Hawksbill sea turtles swivel their delicate bodies across the heat of a powdery sand beneath towards a promising future in the Atlantic, conquering unchartered territory—so, too, must the human race trek with them, ceaselessly overcoming the forceful currents ahead with ambition and assurance for a cleaner tomorrow.