• Sun. Dec 10th, 2023

Corona standstill as a chance for the climate?


Apr 6, 2023

"I held out the russel and thought it smelled like my childhood", tells a pensioner on her walk through eltmann. The spring air seems fresher, the water in the ebelsbacher river clearer. And above it all, the sky shines in sea blue – without chemical trails or clouds of exhaust fumes.

Does the quarantine make us more sensitive to life outside our four walls, or are the smells right?? Does the humanitarian corona crisis also have a positive effect on forests and rivers in the hab mountains?

Standstill ensures fewer emissions

The fact is, covid-19 has achieved what climate policy has been working on for years: forcing exhaust gas sinners into the garage. Thanks to the home office, commuting is now limited to the commute between the bed and the desk. Travel, whether for business or pleasure, is generally discouraged by the federal government. Last year, germans flew to the sea over the holidays; this year, nurnberg airport is shutting down during the easter vacations. Broken orders and short-time work are forcing the industry to cut back on production.

"Naturally, there is less travel at the moment. Even in our region", explains ulrich mergner, forestry manager in ebrach. Its area of effect also includes large parts of the steigerwald in the habberge mountains. There are currently no definite figures on how much carbon dioxide will be saved as a result of the exit restrictions. "It was first necessary to estimate how much less car traffic there would be. Then they needed data on the reduced production of manufacturing and industry", according to mergner.

In lower franconia, there are three measuring stations located on busy roads in wurzburg and schweinfurt. Compared to 2019, there has hardly been any change in the pollution levels there so far. Spot measurements are not strong enough to draw firm conclusions about air quality in the habberge district.

China provides the proof

That the perception of air and water improvement is not a humbug is shown by a look at china: satellite images of the eruption city of wuhan show that the shutdown of the chinese economy has been able to reduce pollution so drastically that the effects are visible from space.

Nitrogen dioxide ( ) is a harmful gas that vehicles and industrial plants emit into the air. The enforced break lets nature breathe – in the truest sense of the word. At least in the short term, because china is starting to ramp up its factories again.

The climate crisis is visible

"The environmental successes that are currently noticeable elsewhere cannot be determined, let alone measured, in this way in our country. We are far too dependent on the ‘rough weather’ for that to happen. Here only a drastic reduction of the traffic can help us", the forestry manager explains.

The warming of the earth, on the other hand, has long been "clearly visible in the local forests", mergner continues.

In the past two years, he has noticed "massive thinning of the crowns and the first signs of dieback in the beech tree species. The spruce suffers from a lack of water and bark kafern." In 2019 alone, there will be 20 "wustentage" given, that is, days when the thermometer has climbed to over 40 degrees, reports mergner.

The mountains also benefit

Two months of economic standstill cannot heal the damage of years of pollution. And yet wolfgang aull, lecturer on sustainability and the environment, also observes small signs of recovery in nature: "the water in the main is much clearer." There was also "less littering" at the wayside, that is, carelessly discarded gauze.

The eschenauer’s observations are purely objective, and yet people seem to treat nature with more care. It is, after all, the only place to escape to in order to escape the camp fever in one’s own four walls for a short time. It is uncertain whether the exit restriction will be extended after easter; what is certain is that the recovery phase of nature will thus have an expiration date.

In the habfurt district office, a merciless race against time and the virus is taking place

Long term help for bees

The bee has become a symbol of climate change. But here, too, long-term measures are needed to help the furry insects. A short-term economic standstill is of no use, explains beekeeper katja dittmann. Less pesticide use, no monoculture and unmown meadows instead of concreted industrial land – that alone can save the bees.

The ebelsbacher starts her educational work with the youngest children in kindergarten. There she explains how important the little animals are for the human food chain. "Every third bite we take is due to the bee", according to their website.

Dittmann’s protected insects are awakening from hibernation these days. From a temperature of 15 degrees the pollen collectors swarm out into surrounding gardens and fields.

Dittmann sees the current economic freeze less as an opportunity, and more as a danger: "my fear is that after the shutdown, there will be more ramp-ups. That companies need to step on the gas more", to make up for the lost revenue.

Learning from corona for the climate

"Corona is slowing down the greenhouse effect, but corona is also slowing down the fight against the climate threat", says oliver kunkel, initiator of the climate movement "we are shaping our homeland in the county.

He believes that politicians could learn from this crisis for the next one. Global solutions, rapid action and international solidarity are central to dealing with corvid-19 as well as fighting climate change towards climate transformation.

Scientific forecasts must also be taken seriously with regard to the climate crisis. Corona battle leads the way: "ruling" for weeks now the robert koch institute’s assessments the country and politics follows. Scientists are not politicians, but their analyses have so far prevented germany from becoming a second italy.

Time will tell whether the interest of citizens in the climate debate will actually wane. But dittmann also believes that the climate crisis must be dealt with as quickly as in times of corona, because "nature is cleaning itself up, whether through wildfires or corona."

Finally out in the green again

A spark of hope remains. There probably wouldn’t have been so many enthusiastic joggers currently sprinting up to the zeiler kappele if there hadn’t been a pandemic. The restriction on exits has awakened the joy of a long walk in the fresh air in many people. "The tranquility of nature", aull also perceives this as positive in all the chaos.

Dagmar schnos, who works in the deanery habberge in the family pastoral care, writes on facebook: "the corona crisis lets me hear better. I can hear the silence in my street again, the birds on my walk and the friendly grub of the people (mostly from the other side of the street). (…) involuntarily my ears get a break and at the same time i take much better care of myself. Quietly, the gratitude for life rises up and I listen."


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