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South Africa amongst ’52 Places for a Changed World’ by New York Times

South Africa amongst ’52 Places for a Changed World’ by New York Times

How I wish the world would respond to the devastating realities of global warming and conservation issues as it did, and continues to do, over the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Cape {town} Etc’s Robyn Simpson.

When humans locked down, the planet levelled up. In just a short time without us, Earth showed evidence of healing.

What cost people lives and livelihoods — life as we once new it — is characterised as one of the largest disruptions in the modern era of global observing networks, pervasive sensing and large-scale tracking of human mobility and behaviour.

For people, the pandemic has largely resulted in economic and humanitarian disaster. But for Earth, the drastic and sudden halt of human activity offered a unique window for scientists, researchers and the world to examine the planet’s ability to heal.

Some obvious and immediate effects are reflected in the worldwide reports of reduced traffic congestion, clearer skies, cleaner waterways and the emergence of wildlife into human settlements.

With a lull in traffic and fishermen, dolphins returned to the Bosphorus in Istanbul, wild boars were spotted roaming the streets of Haifa in Israel, and a cougar was spotted in Santiago in Chile, to name a few homecomings.

In the global south, the effects were less clear-cut. Rhino poaching declined in Tanzania due to supply chain disruptions and restrictions on boarder movement, but bushmeat hunting, illegal firewood collection and incursions into protected areas increased in India, Nepal and Kenya. This is because of a loss of tourist income which forced local communities to find alternative ways of caring for their families.

In addition to anecdotal reports, effects are being detected in a variety of long-term physical observations. These range from improved air quality to reduced seismic noise and socioeconomic indicators.


How I wish the world would respond to the devastating realities of global warming and conservation issues as it did, and continues to do, over the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Cape {town} Etc's Robyn Simpson.
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