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COVID-19 shutdowns will give wildlife only short-term relief from climate change

COVID-19 shutdowns will give wildlife only short-term relief from climate change

There had to be a silver lining to the nearly universal lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the small benefits has been a temporarily lighter human footprint in many ecosystems.

Wildlife sightings are increasing, air quality is improving and carbon emissions are dropping. While these glimmers of positivity cannot come close to eclipsing the tragic human cost of the coronavirus, many are now asking what the pandemic will mean for wildlife around the globe.

Global carbon dioxide emissions for 2020 are expected to fall by up to eight percent due to shutdowns, although the resumption of global activity could increase emissions and offset some of these gains. While this is a significant reduction in our expected emissions, it's far from enough to turn the tide on climate change's impacts on biodiversity.

Climate change can't be stopped by COVID-19. This past April and May were both tied for the warmest on record, and if this trend continues then June will be the 426th month in a row where global average temperatures are above the 20th-century average. This serves as a strong reminder that even if we stop all carbon emissions today, we will still be fighting to reduce emissions and sequester carbon for a long time. The stakes are dangerously high.
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