As part of our #BreatheCleanerAir week, we have been looking at where we are now and what’s next for a cleaner, greener recovery and sharing and positive stories that have emerged from there being fewer vehicles on the road during lockdown.
In this blog, Community Champion Dan reflects on the impact of this temporary period of respite on our local environment and the opportunities we now have to breathe cleaner air and build back a better future.
"Lockdown reflects the terrible crisis we humans are facing, and the suffering Covid 19 has brought cannot be underestimated. However, our inactivity during lockdown did give temporary, desperately-needed respite to a natural world which has been under relentless siege from human pollution and unsustainable exploitation.
This spring, I was able to sit quietly in green spaces and hear the buzzing of bees and the dawn chorus. I rather preferred that to the sounds of “business as usual”- the roar of planes, the background hum of traffic, police sirens, and tiles being sawed for house extensions.
Birds were able to nest largely unimpeded: one of my highlights this spring was seeing a family of great tits fledge in our garden.
It’s only when we stop polluting due to a catastrophic virus, that we realise just how contaminated our air usually is, and how delightful the spring breeze can be when it comes unsullied with car fumes. At times, to my nose anyway, Merton smelled like Devon this April!
Despite some green rhetoric, our society looks set to quickly return to the “business as usual” which is built on polluting and destroying what is left of our beautiful and essential natural support systems. In a bid to “get the economy going”, the Government is looking to “build, build, build” - more CO2-emitting, nature destroying infrastructure.
What we, and the rest of the natural world we are a part of, need urgently, is for the brief ceasefire we had with nature this spring to become a permanent peace. To do this, whilst also having an economy that affords us a living, we need a massive boost in green jobs, green infrastructure, green transport.
Impossible? Not realistic? Let’s remember that hundreds of billions were instantly found to bail out the banks in 2008. Countless billions more to prop up our economy during the Coronacrisis. What price saving nature, and therefore ourselves, before it’s too late? And what an opportunity for us to breathe clean air and hear the dawn chorus every spring."