The impact of coronavirus on the environment – France 24

One of the things that has become very clear, in the last five years or so, is that we have a serious problem, not just with bees, but with insect life in general. We are seeing massive declines in insect populations, and they are extraordinarily important because they play a central role in pollination, that is necessary to maintain our food security.

Right now what we are seeing is simply the interference of human beings on biodiversity is being much reduced, we have got a lot less people around and we have got a lot less pollution around. What we are finding all over the world, is that wildlife is now moving in to the cities much more. So people are having a much better experience of it, because the cities are quieter. People are hearing bird sing in the middle of Paris, and in the middle of London, in a way they have not done for decades. So it is making people more aware of nature. But the longer term impact is that we are getting a very brutal lesson in how ignoring nature can rebound and disrupt our lives very dramatically.

I think that we have had three shocks. We have had a shock to our health, and if governments carry on the way they are, then we should be through that shock by the end of this year. We have had a shock to our economies, and that is going to take us quite a lot longer to get over. But much more importantly there has been a psychological shock. All eight billion of us on this planet have experienced the impact of this virus on our lives. There has never been any previous occasion when literally everyone on the planet has had the same experience at the same time. I think the psychological impact of that, as we move past the health and the economic impacts, it will make us evaluate a lot more how we are responding to these threats that are on the horizon, and aren’t immediately in front of us. I think that is going sensitize the public much more to the need to pay attention to what is happening to nature; to biodiversity, to the climate, and to pollution, in order that we don’t find that there are more disruptive surprises out there.

There are some excerpts of a interview I did for France 24 about the impact of coronavirus on the environment.