I read with some amusement today about the crisis being faced by oil futures traders as they grappled with the fact that if they didn’t dump their shares soon, a whole lot of oil was going to show up on their door. Thus the reason for May delivery futures dropping to -$37 a barrel. “Good thing those weren’t pork bellies” I thought laughingly to myself, but even as I was chuckling, another thought was crossing my mind…
What was really going on here? Well, the global transportation industry had pretty much ground to a halt, that’s what. It would appear that our most prominent use for oil is to power our own transportation industry! When the vehicles stopped running, the oil prices tanked.
And look at the difference a few months have made. People are posting shots from India that show the Himalayas in the background again. I never even knew they were close; my time in Noida was spent in ignorance of this. In fact, they are quite majestic:
This is only a small part of what’s going on too. Scientists are saying that the Earth is not “ringing” as much from the collective sounds of our daily lives any more and that their instruments can now detect much fainter seismic activity. As a species with 8 billion members, we are now a major force on this planet.
In three short months, the Earth has begun to improve. Animals are moving into unused venues and the air quality is improving. Scientists at Columbia University recently detected a 10% localized drop in atmospheric CO2.
It remains to be seen what the overall impact to climate change will be (so far NASA satellites haven’t detected a global change in atmospheric CO2), but the point is well made here: reductions in transportation based fossil fuel use have impact far beyond a stock trader’s dread of approaching oil tankers.
So while we sit here in COVID inspired isolation, perhaps now is the time to consider what we will advocate for when we come out of it. How can we accelerate the transformation of our transportation industry to electric and hydrogen power sources? How do we transform other industrial processes away from hydrocarbon fuel dependence? Lately, electric arc furnaces have made their appearance in heavy industry. This is a good sign.
Perhaps now is the time to think about how we can shape our planet’s future. Our species is not insignificant; the Earth’s reduced “ringing” proves this. There is a way we can personally help to not only avoid the impact of climate change but also make our world a more beautiful place to live in. We are doing it now, albeit with some difficulty and self sacrifice. When we come out of this, if we can just focus on promoting those leaders who share a concern for climate change impact and then try to include increasingly affordable climate friendly options into our buying decisions, then we can have a significant impact. If we can resist the increasing noise on social media propagated by those who don’t want to see change then we can solve this. Look around yourself. Does the blue sky seem just a bit more vivid to you now? Are there a few more stars in the sky that perhaps you hadn’t noticed before?
We are at a once in a lifetime crossroads thanks to SARS-CoV-2 and our future will be different because of it. Why not use the opportunity to save our climate too?
Indeed, why not? In upcoming installments I’ll share some of the gems that I’ve recently uncovered on my own journey towards a more sustainable future.