Today we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. A day to celebrate efforts made throughout the world to protect the environment and avoid catastrophes like 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill that created a wave of protest which ultimately lead to the creation of this day.
With the current situation, we’ve seen pollution levels decrease, but also seen some government using this as an opportunity to relax environmental regulations. Why is that? They argue we must recover lost time and produce more, at the cost of the environment and even human lives. Human lives? It might seem far-fetched but Marshall Burke, Earth System Professor, used data from the US government to measure the levels of PM2.5 in China, considered the biggest cause of death from air pollution. He estimates that with the lower levels of pollutions forced by the quarantine approximately 77,000 lives were saved. This proves how environmental causes can save lives. But it’s not on in China where we’ve seen decreasing levels of pollution.
But are we going to see major shift in how we perceive environmental causes and energy consumption?
In this period, energy consumption has been greatly reduced. The U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that electricity demand for the commercial sector has dropped 4.7% and as factories shut down the industrial sector will reduce their consumption by 4.2%. Now it’s a great time to think about efficiency.
Companies can react in two ways. Relax their internal environmental policies or see this as an opportunity to change their perspective on energy consumption and pollution. This change of perspective can be applied into different strategies. From the obvious like decreasing the number of business flights for meetings or a more widespread home-office policies. But there are more refined options, like monitoring your energy consumption and applying AI and machine learning processes to analyze energy consumption to optimize it.
We have an opportunity to keep the momentum going. It’s not only animals coming back to the cities and it’s not only a clearer sky. It’s healthier lives, and the possibility to maintain a more efficient world and transform how we relate to energy and pollution from now on.