Earth Day: La giornata della terra

Earth Day‘ celebrated every year by the United Nations since 1970, is April 22nd and aims to raise awareness and keep alive a fundamental value: environmental ethics.

The good news:

For the first time in years, smog is falling down in every corner of the planet, and this is thanks to the recession. De-growth, with the development slowdown, would seem to be the best cure for the environment.

In China, air pollution was 30% lower in the last quarter than in the previous 7 years. (Focus site)

In America, from New York to San Francisco, commuters forced to save money due to economic hardship rediscover less polluting public transport such as subways and trains.

The airlines in shortage of passengers leave several aircraft on the ground and cancel further purchase contracts with the aircraft manufacturers (Airbus and Boing).

In the Asian ports of Hong Kong, Seoul, and Singapore, hundreds of container ships have been stopped due to the collapse of world trade, thus reducing the smog of shipping.

In Europe 150 cities have joined the “Transition Town” movement by adopting a systematic strategic plan for reducing energy consumption; the consumption of electricity (produced by coal-fired power plants) is falling for the first time in decades.

Still, other good news: unsold SUVs accumulate in huge squares (a true technological totem of transport and social status symbol) deserted by consumers forced out of necessity to make more appropriate and rational choices in times of decline.

In short, all the causes of pollution are in retreat, hallelujah for this new Waterloo!

American environmental associations enthusiastically push a new ethic of living imposed on families by the crisis, beginning to change the myriad of daily habits that imposed increasing pressure on the ecosystem.

What is happening now in times of recession actually happened already 30 years ago at the time of the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet empire.

The economic crisis in all of Eastern Europe with the closure of many factories in Russia, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia (at the time single state ed), and satellite countries produced a 50% decrease in the level of smog above the Arctic Circle.

However, we must ask ourselves another question: is this improvement lasting for the environment?

Certainly not, as if the decrease in smog is only an effect of impoverishment, its effects will not be lasting.

The recession becomes counterproductive if the economic-political choices of the more advanced countries slow down investments in new technologies, which will be penalized by the “counter-shock” offer of the oil system which will have relatively low prices.

If the income statement is not positive, the companies producing alternative energy will cancel projects. Long-term financing involving the study and research of alternative energy sources will be reduced.

There remains great hope in the policy promises of incentives for renewable energy sources.

So if the recession is good for the environment, it CANNOT be the solution because it cannot do it alone.

Therefore, all the initiatives that encourage and keep alive environmental ethics are welcome – and in this regard, I propose the story of the late 1980s by Dr. Invernizzi.

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