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New research finds Earth’s ‘vital signs’ worsened during pandemic

By , in Technology , at July 29, 2021 Tags: ,


The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people all around the world live their lives.

They move around less. They work from home more. When they do venture out, their faces are hidden behind masks.

Entire cities have been locked down as coronavirus evolved into new, more highly transmissible strains.

You could be forgiven for thinking the lack of movement would have a positive impact on Earth’s “vital signs” – the indicators scientists use to measure human impact on the environment. But you would be wrong.

New research, published on Wednesday in the scientific journal BioScience, shows the world is still heading in the wrong direction.

The research is a continuation of work carried out in 2019 that foretold of “untold suffering” and declared a climate emergency. It was signed by more than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries.

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The researchers from the University of Exeter, University of Grenoble Alps, Oregon State University, the Woodwell Climate Research Centre, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Sydney said climate-related disasters have surged since 2019. Think flooding in South America and Southeast Asia, wildfires in Australia and in the United States and cyclones in Africa and the Pacific.

The vital signs that are impacting that trend include a sharp rise in the number of ruminant livestock which is a significant contributor to methane gas levels in the atmosphere.

“For the first time, world ruminant livestock numbers soared past 4 billion, which represents much more mass than all humans and wild mammals combined,” they wrote.

“Future declines in meat consumption and production will probably not happen until there is a general shift to plant-based diets or increases in the use of meat analogs.”

They found the pandemic had no positive change on our rainforests.

“The Brazilian Amazon annual forest loss rate increased in 2019 and 2020, reaching a 12-year high of 1.11 million hectares destroyed,” they wrote.

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