Marking Earth Day During a Pandemic

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is taking place in a world transformed by the coronavirus pandemic. This April 22, empty highways and shuttered factories around the globe have led to better air quality, cleaner water, and emergent wildlife — a temporary recovery that offers a glimpse at the possibility of a cleaner future. Environmental experts say the global standstill has provided an object lesson in the power of collective action in the face of a large-scale, invisible threat — as well as the dangers of a delayed response.

To mark this Earth Day, dive into these reads about the pandemic’s effect on the environment and what lessons this moment might hold for the fight against climate change. For resources and ways to take action, visit EarthDay.org.

The Pandemic Is Turning the Natural World Upside Down

Marina Koren • The Atlantic

Widespread social-distancing measures have produced some jarring effects across land, air, and sea.

How Is the Coronavirus Pandemic Affecting Climate Change?

Matt Simon • Wired

Sure, emissions have fallen. But a closer look at how the global crisis is influencing the environment reveals some surprising dynamics.

What the Coronavirus Curve Teaches Us About Climate Change

Howard Kunreuther and Paul Slovic • Politico Magazine

Humans don’t easily grasp the concept of exponential growth, but it’s exactly why coronavirus has gotten so hard to manage—and why climate change could too.

The Pandemic Is Giving Animals a Temporary New World

Russell Jacobs • Slate

Our disappearance will affect food webs and reproduction—and then we will come back.

COVID-19 Could Help Solve Climate Riddles

Adam Levy • Scientific American

Pollution declines from pandemic shutdowns may aid in answering long-standing questions about how aerosols influence climate.

Our Environmental Practices Make Pandemics Like the Coronavirus More Likely

Sigal Samuel • Vox

The story we tell about pandemics casts us as victims of nature. It’s the other way around.

What a Coronavirus-Like Response to the Climate Crisis Would Look Like

Sammy Roth • Los Angeles Times

Society has moved far more aggressively to address the coronavirus than it has the climate crisis. But some experts wonder if the unprecedented global mobilization to slow the pandemic might help pave the way for more dramatic climate action. We asked eight scientists, activists and other experts what a coronavirus-like response to climate change would look like.

What the Coronavirus Means for Climate Change

Meehan Crist • The New York Times

Lockdowns and distancing won’t save the world from warming. But amid this crisis, we have a chance to build a better future.

Climate Crisis: In Coronavirus Lockdown, Nature Bounces Back – but for How Long?

Jonathan Watts • The Guardian

While carbon emissions fall as human activity decreases, in the end it will be about the politics.