Happy Earth Day 2020

22 April 2020

Happy Earth Day!

Earth day celebrates its 50th anniversary today 22nd April! This global organisation mobilises climate action, and with millions of supporters and over 75,000 partnerships in place thank goodness it exists!

Given the global pandemic which we are all experiencing today is particularly poignant. As cited in Oliver Milman's piece for the Guardian today 'pandemic side effects offer a glimpse of an alternative future on earth day' the impacts of reduced pollution and the positive effects on the planet cannot be refuted.

Also covered in the Guardian is the potential connection of high air pollution with spikes in Covid 19 mortality rates across the planet.

These visual representations of air pollution before and after lock down in China and Northern Italy are stark reminders of the pollution generated by human activity.

scotscape tropospheric no2 density china
scotscape tropospheric no2 density italy

Urban Greening

When some normality returns, which will be gradual, it will be fascinating to see comparative imagery as human activity increases. The planet faces a conundrum, how can we do better to hold onto some of the benefits to air pollution, biodiversity and ecosystems that lock down has created? Given that the proportion of the world's population that inhabits cities is said to rise to 70% by 2030 the need to both build green cities and retrofit what we have remains crucial.

In terms of urban greening the opportunity to do more to improve our cities is demonstrated here, an aerial image of the Orchard Lisle Living Wall for Team London Bridge. Its a beauty, full of smart horticulture to improve biodiversity and air quality. How much more could be done? Multiple wall facades and roofs demonstrate the opportunity - green roofs, trellis systems and ivy panels could all be used here in addition to the high aesthetic of the living wall - no single product offers a cure all to creating resilient cities.

urban greening scotscape aerial view

In 2019 Dusty Gedge and Gary Grant collated the Living Roofs and Walls report in 2019 supported by the Mayor of London.

The report, which was conducted in association with the European Federation of Green Roofs and Walls (EFB), measures the success of the Living Roofs and Walls Policy that was included in the London Plan in 2008. It also shows the tremendous progress in the provision of green roofs and walls in London over the last 10 years and how the policy has encouraged uptake in the absence of any financial incentives or mandatory requirement. London overall is making good progress especially in terms of green roofs.

Will there be a surge of urban greening post COVID 19? Will the collective appreciation of nature which has been so prominent on social media since lock down bring the resolve to protect the environment? Will we endeavour to incorporate nature where cities have flattened it? We say a resounding yes!

Thank you Earth Day.

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