Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Guardian: Could the Covid Lockdown have Helped Save Us from Climate Change?

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to The Guardian, the Covid lockdown brought “heart warming” images of sheep grazing in a deserted children’s playground, and gave us a glimpse of what might be possible under a future Climate lockdown.

Could Covid lockdown have helped save the planet?

Slowdown of human activity was too short to reverse years of destruction, but we saw a glimpse of post-fossil fuel world

Jonathan Watts@jonathanwatts
Tue 29 Dec 2020 18.00 AEDT

When lockdown began, climate scientists were horrified at the unfolding tragedy, but also intrigued to observe what they called an “inadvertent experiment” on a global scale. To what extent, they asked, would the Earth system respond to the steepest slowdown in human activity since the second world war?

Environmental activists put the question more succinctly: how much would it help to save the planet?

The respite was too short to reverse decades of destruction, but it did provide a glimpse of what the world might feel like without fossil fuels and with more space for nature.

Wildlife did not have time to reclaim lost territory but it had scope for exploration. Alongside apocalyptic images of deserted roads, the internet briefly buzzed with heartwarming clips of sheep in a deserted playground in Monmouthshire, Wales, coyotes on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, wild boar snuffling through the streets of Barcelona, and deer grazing not far from the White House in Washington DC. Wildflowers flourished on roadsides because verges were cut less frequently.

But the gains were short-lived. Once lockdown eased, traffic surged back and so did air pollution. In a survey of 49 British towns and cities, 80% had contamination levels that were now the same or worse than before the pandemic. Elsewhere, sightings of distant mountain peaks and wild animals are fading in the memory.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/29/could-covid-lockdown-have-helped-save-the-planet

I must admit the sheep were kind of cute. But I don’t find anything heart warming about children cowering in misery indoors, unable to play because everyone is frightened of catching a deadly disease. Nor do I find anything “heart warming” about people who advocate extending this misery for the foreseeable future.

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December 30, 2020 2:06 pm

Utopian twits.

Ron Long
December 30, 2020 2:18 pm

Alex, I’ll take If Covid Lockdown previews CAGW lockdown, why didn’t the CO2 value at Mauna Loa register any effect?” for a million smackeroos.

Reply to  Ron Long
December 30, 2020 3:16 pm

Because the affect was too small and too short.

Reply to  MarkW
December 30, 2020 5:50 pm

..and they had to hunt all over the world to find 3 pictures to prove their point

I hate the news media

very old white guy
Reply to  MarkW
December 31, 2020 5:21 am

Effect, and I have heard women say that.

S C Bazlinton
December 30, 2020 2:26 pm

Yes and it will be wonderful to have to go to the village pump to draw water and wash your face on a cold frosty morning, so romantic. Scrounging round for wood to get the kettled boiled will be fun too……………….

Reply to  S C Bazlinton
December 30, 2020 4:30 pm

The people that advocate this utopian lie will never feel the negative effects of their belief. Just like the people pushing the COVID lockdowns are immune to the negative effects of the lockdowns. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

Reply to  Wade
December 30, 2020 5:25 pm

Those that pushed for a ban on HCQ should be hit with a $Trillion class-action lawsuit. Maybe that would wake them up.

Reply to  RockyRoad
December 31, 2020 9:50 am

You mean the HCQ that works for malaria but for CoVid-19 couldn’t be considered very effective ?

Reply to  S C Bazlinton
December 30, 2020 7:37 pm

Here where I live in Colorado the mountains surrounding my home are covered with lush Douglas Fir forests, mature trees with 16-18″ trunks. They are proof of the resilience of nature, a century or more ago these mountains were devastated. In the mid to late nineteenth century this region experienced a huge gold and silver rush and trees were cut down for building material and fuel. All the trees except a few left to provide shade in the cemetery. These older truly large trees remain to this day. Early photographs show entire mountainsides scalped bald, for dozens of miles entire forests were entirely removed. Now I fear ill conceived energy policies will force us to again clear cut our forests and make us scrounge for bits of wood to feed our wood stoves.

glen ferrier
Reply to  tommyboy
December 30, 2020 8:51 pm

Tommyboy; I live 1 hour north of Victoria BC, Canada. My primary source of heat in the winter is my fireplace. In the summer it is chopping wood. The oldest trees, mostly D-Fir, on my lot are 45 years old and they are 2 to 2.5 feet diameter at breast hight. The wet coast grows trees fast.



Ron Long
Reply to  tommyboy
December 31, 2020 4:47 am

Tommyboy, the same happened at Lake Tahoe, where all of the ponderosa pine was cut down to provide underground support and fuel for the Virginia City silver mines. For some comments about this read Mark Twain’s book “Roughing It”, but a warning, some of Mark Twains comments are not very “woke”.

Reply to  Ron Long
January 1, 2021 1:41 pm

I live in the Reno/Tahoe area, and I’m so glad the forests grew back.

Reply to  S C Bazlinton
January 1, 2021 1:42 pm

They probably would ban living off the land and burning wood too. I think their idea of “living in harmony with nature” means forcing everyone indoors in shared, crammed concrete apartments, forbidding gardening, and stopping human access to parks and trails.

December 30, 2020 2:28 pm
Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Scissor
December 30, 2020 2:50 pm

According to the story the local gas company was sabotaged in 3 locations.

Probably X-R types

Not sure I can think of a bettter way to turn people against my cause than take away their heat in winter
Especially the mindless virtue signaling rich in a place like aspen

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Scissor
December 30, 2020 2:53 pm

If you live in Aspen you have a lot of money. These people won’t have to worry when the rest of us live like our ancestors in the 14th century.

David A
Reply to  Eric Worrall
December 30, 2020 8:56 pm

Preferably three sources such as propane, wood, and a generator.

Rod Evans
December 30, 2020 2:41 pm

The Guardian is famous for asking dumb questions. Any paper that suggests a brief interruption to normal commercial activities, would have any impact on the natural events of nature, and in particular the ongoing normal climate changes taking place, should simply answer No, to their dumb question.
Just ignore the Guardian and its views, because that is exactly what it does to you, the normal person in the street.

Reply to  Rod Evans
December 30, 2020 5:36 pm

These are the same people that push the moto for the Great Reset Initiative, which is, “You won’t own anything, but you’ll be happier!”

Somehow, I seriously doubt it.

Reply to  Rod Evans
December 30, 2020 7:14 pm

When my morning consumption of news from around the world starts to anger and/or depress me, I click up The Guardian.

The chuckles I get from perusing Guardian content diffuses my anxiety.

Reply to  Rod Evans
January 2, 2021 9:48 am

I looked at a copy of the Guardian today, and was amazed at how shrunken and slight it has become, both physically and intellectually. It is now printed on the cheapest newsprint in tabloid format in attempt to reduce its losses (£38m late year). The coverage of international news is miserable as well as being utterly biased and slanted. I have the impression the rag can no longer afford overseas correspondents, relying instead on second-hand sources on the Web.

Pat from kerbob
December 30, 2020 2:44 pm

The grauniad is simply anti-human

The reporter and editors are more than welcome to step off the planet any time

But they wont

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
December 31, 2020 1:14 am

Nor will they stop breeding to save the world

Mike Maguire
December 30, 2020 2:49 pm

Yes, it did show a correlation.

The strong correlation/causation between the quality of human lives and the technology/economies powered by fossil fuels. They go hand in hand.

The last 40 years have featured the best weather/climate for life on this greening planet since the Medieval Warm Period. CO2 is a beneficial gas by all authentic scientific standards(optimal level is close to 900 ppm vs the current 413ppm) and the modest warming will have more benefits than detriments for most life for awhile longer.

The Climate Accord is not about climate at all. It’s just a ruse to accomplish this:



Fossil fuels used by the developed countries cause excessive consumption of natural resources………..the opposite of “sustainable development”.

More on that here:


December 30, 2020 2:59 pm

Jonathan Watts from the Guardian is a twisted misanthrope. Images of children playing in a playground would be far more heartwarming than an image of sheep eating (and defecating in the playground).

December 30, 2020 3:10 pm

Delay the spread, excess collateral damage, and sequester their carbon remains. A monotonic solution that they preach again, and again, and again.

December 30, 2020 3:16 pm

It takes a pretty sick person to refer to a picture of sheep grazing in an abandoned playground as “heartwarming”.

December 30, 2020 3:50 pm

That writer Johnathan probably hasn’t had his cash flow & monetary reserves brought so low these last 10 months that he’s in arrears to his landlord, nor without a spare shilling to feed his gas heater. Big thinker should check his privilege & get busy scrounging up some dung for his families cooking fire.

John the Econ
December 30, 2020 4:05 pm

Filed under: Repeal the 20th Century!

Reply to  John the Econ
December 30, 2020 5:04 pm

Dear me! Some of you posters seem to have missed the point. The economic hardship of the Covid-19 shutdowns is not what is recommended. It is the clear skies, free from pollution, that is mentioned as an example of the positive effects that will result from a transition towards renewables.

People living in cities in Northern India, close to the Himalayan mountains, for example, have had a clear view of the mountains for the first time in many decades, as a result of the lock-down.

Regardless of the uncertain effect of minuscule percentages of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is no doubt that the burning of fossil fuels causes pollution and haze which harms people’s health.

Whilst it’s true that there is a serious intermittency problem with renewables, the problem is slowly being addressed and it is reasonable to assume that the use of fossil fuels as a back-up source will continue until the intermittency problems are solved.

I have sufficient faith in the progress of scientific research to believe that solutions will eventually be found that provide reliable, clean and affordable, renewable energy.

Reply to  Vincent
December 30, 2020 5:34 pm

Whilst it’s true that there is a serious intermittency problem with renewables, the problem is slowly being addressed and it is reasonable to assume that the use of fossil fuels as a back-up source will continue until the intermittency problems are solved.

Typical hand-wavey qualitative codswallop from someone who has never done an engineering calculation in their life.
Leonardo da vinci: Whilst its true there is a serious power to weight problem with heavier than air aircraft, the problem is slowly being addressed..and its reasonable to assume that the use of ‘balloons’ will continue….

Renewables plus storage is 6 times the price of a nuclear power station and three times the carbon footprint. and does 10 time the environmental damage.

And there is no viable storage solution even in the lab.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Vincent
December 30, 2020 7:56 pm

Using thermal energy to backup wind and solar is like engaging reserve troops in battle and only using regulars as backup.’Renewables’ need backup, thermal energy generation doesn’t and is not economically viable employed merely as backup.It is very doubtful that the intermittency problems can be solved because they are due to natural fluctuations, weather-related and diurnal; employing ‘renewables’ before solving those problems is putting the cart before the horse.Anyway the ERoEI ratios for both wind and solar are a fraction of those for thermal and hydro and can never support a modern economy in the long run.

David A
Reply to  Vincent
December 30, 2020 9:04 pm

Vincent, fossil fuels that produce CO2 have very little to do with poor sunsets, as long as modern scrubbers are employed.

So yes, you can have your CO2 producing inexpensive energy, and your beautiful sunsets, and far greater crop production with zero additional land or water required.

Over time nuclear will replace it all.

Vincent Causey
Reply to  Vincent
December 31, 2020 1:02 am

Listen, the biggest lie is that “renewables” are renewable. They are in fact more resource intensive than fossil fuels. Apart from the fact that you need fossil fuels to mine, refine and manufacture wind turbines and solar panels (let’s ignore that for a moment), the elephant in the room is that they have only a short life span of around 20 years. So the big picture that nobody has considered is this. If massive amounts of wind turbines and solar panels are manufactured and installed as people like you are asking for, by the time the last wind turbine is put up, the earlier ones will need to be taken down (put where? nobody knows) and replaced.

If you could watch time speeded up you would be watching a never ending process of new wind turbines and solar panels manufactured (with all the mining and industrial processes that entails), shipped, erected, taken down, thrown away and repeated ad infinitum. Have you considered any of this? Consider it now.

Reply to  Vincent Causey
December 31, 2020 5:38 pm


First, let me make it clear that my concern is not about human-caused climate change, but about pollution.

It’s an indisputable fact that the mining and burning of fossil fuels produces pollution. Reducing that pollution, or minimizing it to negligible levels, adds significantly to the over all cost of the energy produced.

Nuclear power would be an ideal solution if it were not for the risk of potential disasters on a scale of the Chernobyl and Fukushima catastrophes. Can you imagine what a scary place our planet would be if there were thousands of Nuclear Power plants in developing countries, many of which might had been built to lower standards in order to save money, and were operated by poorly-trained personnel?

Recycling of whatever product that has served its purpose, is a cost which is often overlooked or not addressed. Since I’m concerned about the environment, I’m also concerned about this issue of effective recycling, whether the waste is a fiber-glass windmill blade or an empty bottle of beer. Fossil fuel and nuclear power plants also have to be decommissioned, eventually.

The following article addresses some solutions to the problem of recycling wind turbine blades.

Paul C
Reply to  Vincent
January 1, 2021 4:00 am

From the blade recycling guff
“The problem is significant amounts of energy are needed to activate the pyrolysis, which might limit its environmental usefulness.” – if only we had cheap energy, we could do all this stuff – DUH! Not going to get that from wind then are you.
and “And char (charcoal) which can be used as a fertiliser.” – so burnt plastic is now a fertiliser – is that only if it comes from “green” technology? Don’t tell the Chinese – they’ll start “recycling” plastic again, but you will be required to pay for some “fertiliser” too.

Reply to  Vincent
December 31, 2020 2:58 am

How is the intermittency of renewables being addressed, specifically?

Reply to  Lrp
December 31, 2020 6:20 pm

As far as I understand the situation, the main methods are the use of fossil fuel back-up plants, battery storage, and the interconnection of various regions through High Voltage Direct Current lines which can transfer energy over long distances with very little loss, as opposed to AC lines.

Theoretically, if the whole world were connected with HVDC cables, underground and undersea, the intermittency problem would be solved because the sun is always shining somewhere at any given time, and the wind is always blowing somewhere at any given time.

On a smaller scale, in the future, as battery and solar technology improves, new housing estates could be built with the entire roof of each house constructed as a solar panel, a separate room built in each house for battery storage, and each house in the estate, and other similar estates, connected through an HVDC system. If the entire roof were flat and tilted towards the sun, the total energy produced would be far greater than the occupants required, and the excess energy when fed into the grid, after the batteries were fully charged, would help pay off the initial cost of the solar system within a short period.

In addition, as a result of the expected improvement in batteries in the near future, Electric Vehicles will likely become the norm, and each householder in such an estate will effectively get free fuel, except when they travel long distances, on holiday or during long weekends.

What a great future.

Bill Toland
Reply to  Vincent
January 1, 2021 4:29 am

Vincent, your “solution” to the intermittency of renewables is utterly impractical and unaffordable. It might also be impossible.

You have grossly overestimated the amount of energy which can be collected by solar panels. I live in Glasgow and there is absolutely no way that I could possibly get enough energy from solar panels to provide all of my energy needs even if my house was made of solar panels. And what about people who live in flats in multi storey buildings? Obviously, they will not be using solar panels.

Using fossil fuel power plants as a backup to renewables is not a solution. This simply demonstrates how useless renewable energy actually is. It would be much more sensible to just have the fossil fuel plants and not bother with the renewables at all.

You have also ignored the huge increase in mining which would be required to build enough ” renewables” and batteries to power the world. The environmental damage would be devastating. I don’t believe it would even be possible in the real world to actually build sufficient additional mines to do this due to the opposition of environmentalists. I have seen some studies which have cast doubt on the existence of sufficient quantities of some of the raw materials required.

You have also assumed gigantic technological advances which might never happen. You can only use existing technology in any discussion about energy in order to be taken seriously.

Reply to  Vincent
January 2, 2021 9:54 am

I’d love to see your calculations for the quantities of copper, steel, concrete, neodymium (for the permanent magnets), and other resources needed to make your fantasy a physical reality, plus the energy required to obtain them.

Hint: the numbers are colossal.

John the Econ
Reply to  Vincent
January 5, 2021 10:04 am

I grew up in the Los Angeles of the ’60s to ’80s when visibility was usually less than a mile most of the time. By the ’90s, that had changed. Why? Affluence. The American middle class had become affluent enough to care about environmental quality and to demand and pay for it. The causes were known, and the technology available. Today the skies are usually clear.

If the middle class of India and China is allowed to thrive, the same thing will happen there too.

December 30, 2020 4:27 pm

An example of burn down the village to save it.

Chris Hanley
December 30, 2020 4:31 pm

“The terminal decline of coal” etc., the man is clearly deluded.
He even claims that 2019 was “the hottest northern hemisphere summer in history”.

December 30, 2020 5:10 pm

“The respite was too short to reverse decades of destruction” pretty much sums up how little they know, and shows clearly how little of this destructive civilization they are willing to forgo for themselves. They’d be happy for everyone else to forgo civilization, but not themselves.

Rich T.
December 30, 2020 5:29 pm

They were thinking History Channel “Life After People”. The ideal planet after we are all gone. Let them go first. A planet without the Gates, Eco crazies, and the MSM doomsayers. Let us get on with our lives.

Mike Dubrasich
December 30, 2020 5:34 pm

Where there are sheep the wolves are sure to follow.

John in Oz
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 30, 2020 7:41 pm

Just what I was thinking.

Nature abhors a vacuum and will rapidly fill it with all sorts of predator/prey, the ‘natural’ state of Nature.

Stephen Skinner
December 30, 2020 5:40 pm

decades of destruction”?

December 30, 2020 5:54 pm

The question is not could the lockdown have saved us from climate change, but rather could climate change have saved us from the lockdown. Here’s to [catastrophic] [anthropogenic] climate cooling… warming… change that is both observable and reproducible. In the meantime, there are early effective, inexpensive treatments to save us from lockdowns, and reduce both hospitalization and excess deaths, notably Planned Parent/hood.

Peta of Newark
December 30, 2020 7:14 pm

Why were the sheep not in their field?
I know a thing or two about sheep.
They were not in their field because there had been too many of them in whatever field.
There had been too many because brain-deads like this guy think they have every right to Cheap Food.

Thus the sheep had been forced into overgrazing their field, nibbling the grass right down to the level of the soil.
Bare soil gives low albedo gives rising temps
Bare soil with no trampled grass going back into it gives soil erosion and causes flooding
Reducing soil organics give lower water retention within the soil and gives warmer days & colder nights
The bigger the area they graze down to nothing the bigger the changes
Bingo. There’s your Climate Change.
Totally zilch to do with CO2

If they or anybody wants a ‘nice’ picture, I’ll link to the video I took of bored-to-distraction teenagers, brimming with hideously misguided Good Intentions and Olympian Conclusion Jumping skills – as they try to break into my car, through the glass so as to abduct an 8 year old autistic girl
In a playground (haha) managed by the local authority and less than 300 yards from a very large police station – as 2 attempts to call the emergency services went unanswered.

Straight out of the Climate Change Textbook. An ageing white male, in the company of a young girl (who she refers to as ‘Grandad’) can only mean One Thing. i.e. He Is A Monster

While they’re miles high## on blue-coloured Kool-Aid and Coca-Cola, plus nicotine and magical imaginings that what goes on in the MSM and computer video games has something to do with reality
Barely 16 years old the lot of them, no education and already= fully qualified Climate Scientists.

(##) Just like this Watts guy here, ‘cept he’s miles high on Cocaine

Was Lord of the Flies ‘heart-warming’?

December 30, 2020 7:18 pm

COVID19 allowed Leftist hacks to see how gullible sheeple could be in accepting ridiculous and economic destroying government mandates.

Unfortunately, Leftists’ experiment showed sheeple are now willing to do pretty much anything they are told, providing they scare them enough with fake propaganda..

Such Leftist experiments have been tried throughout history with horrific consequences.

December 31, 2020 12:11 am
December 31, 2020 1:30 am

With the sheep thing, the playground is part of Raglan Park Farm where people pay to go on the rides, which includes zip lines.

The farmer allowed the sheep to roam into the play area, presumably to save him having to maintain the grassed areas. He does this whenever the rides are closed.


BS from The Guardian as usual.

December 31, 2020 1:31 am

These days you have to be mentally ill to read the Groaniad

Bill Toland
Reply to  fretslider
December 31, 2020 8:24 am

I sometimes read the Guardian for amusement purposes. It keeps me up to date on what the loonies are thinking.

Old Ski Bum
Reply to  Bill Toland
December 31, 2020 11:18 am

Isn’t the Guardian a comic book?

Bill Toland
Reply to  Old Ski Bum
December 31, 2020 1:46 pm

The people who produce it think it’s a newspaper. Virtually everybody else in the entire world think it’s a comic.

December 31, 2020 1:33 am

Also, not unusual goats in town

A spokesman said before: “Goats going into town is nothing unusual, particularly at this time of year, there is no way of stopping them. “

Climate believer
December 31, 2020 2:10 am

“Environmental activists put the question more succinctly: how much would it help to save the planet?”

The planet doesn’t need saving. The question is moot.

How typical that the London “Guardian elite” prioritise mountain views over Punjabi dalits ability to feed their families.

very old white guy
December 31, 2020 5:20 am

The cov2 lockdowns sure did not save us from insanity.

Jeffrey H Kreiley
December 31, 2020 6:57 am

These are the anti humans. For sure they loved the dystopian images in the Terminator movies.

January 1, 2021 1:52 pm

It’s honestly disturbing that they think empty playgrounds and parks and trails without humans were heartwarming sights. Humans are a part of nature too. There is nothing beautiful about all the health problems caused by staying indoors all the time, like Vitamin D deficiency, heart disease, etc.

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