Green Visions: "some bright spots against a background of overall decline"

Apr 8, 2020

Kaveri Ganapathy Ahuja posted a tweet that went viral: “Here's an unexpected side effect of the pandemic,” her tweet reads. “The water flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever. The fish are visible, the swans returned.” She was unaware that the swans were already regulars in Burano before the coronavirus tore across Italy.
Credit Kaveri Ganapathy Ahuja/Twitter

We might be forgiven for looking a little harder than usual to find something to be happy about these days.

So posts on social media claiming that "the earth is healing" in various ways lift our spirits, even if there really aren't dolphins in the canals of Venice.

The bad news?  This morning's Earth Wise radio episode agrees that pollution has decreased drastically with the reduction in traffic, but opines that:

While this sudden decline in air pollution over U.S. cities has some near-term health benefits, those benefits are likely to be fairly minor in the big picture.  When the coronavirus outbreak subsides and people are allowed to leave their homes and go back to their normal lives, air pollution will most certainly rebound to previous levels.  In any event, studies have shown that long-term exposure to air pollution has a larger impact on public health than any transient events.

But there is a little good news. Dr. John Pastor is a UMD Professor Emeritus in Biology, and his sister was recently in Venice.  Yes, the canals are much cleaner these days. And another bit of good news is that there are things we can do, right here in our own little corner of the world.

John mentioned several organizations here in the Northland doing important work to improve our environment, and we've added the links below:

The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota

The W.J. McCabe Chapter of the Izaak Walton League

Ducks, Unlimited (there are regional offices in Bismarck, ND and Ann Arbor, MI)

Wild Ones, Arrowhead Chapter