• This has obviously been touched on in lots of threads, but I thought a thread of its own might be in order.

    As it is arising from a profoundly negative event, it is not going to be permanent at all, but soon after the crisis is over, our previous hypermobility habits etc. will quickly take over again. (If there was a very positive event that led to changes in behaviour, those would have a chance to last, but that's obviously not the case.)

    A useful comparison may be with the impact of the 7/7 bombings in London. A prominent side story was how because of the shutdown of public transport people stormed the bike shops and bought all available bikes, with spanner monkeys in the back frantically assembling all the boxed bikes that hadn't been put out on display yet. What actually happened was that this led to no significant change in behaviour. It only front-loaded the take-up of cycling by some people who had been thinking about it, anyway, while most of the panic buyers had no intention of sticking with cycling, and while this took place against a background of general growth of cycling, within a short time the growth curve had 'normalised' again, with the bounce leaving no long-term traces (i.e., as above, many of those cycling that day and/or for a short time stopped cycling as soon as things were back to 'normal', flattening the curve).

    What I wonder about is whether there may not be a similar effect following this crisis--i.e., that shortly afterwards people will try to compensate for what they 'missed' during the crisis, potentially causing higher transport emissions than 'normal', until the emission reduction gains from this are made irrelevant again.

    Also, as Rob Jackson of the Global Carbon Project puts it in the article below:

    “I refuse to celebrate a drop in emissions driven by tens of millions of people losing their jobs. We need systemic change in our energy infrastructure, or emissions will roar back later.”


    Similarly, there's been good news for animals crossing streets and roads--against a background of the shocking numbers of roadkill each year:

    This year will almost certainly see a much lower toll for roadkill by cars and trucks, which – in the UK alone – annually takes the lives of about 100,000 hedgehogs, 30,000 deer, 50,000 badgers and 100,000 foxes, as well as barn owls and many other species of bird and insect.

    But afterwards? My expectation would be that, with more wild animals around again, and those who didn't experience life before the crisis perhaps less cautious about crossing streets and roads, with the crisis over there would be a death toll of animals that would soon bring levels of roadkill not only up to their usual 'normal' rate, but would run at a slowly declining higher rate for a while until the number of wild animals was re-reduced to previous levels.

    In summary, if there was actually a positive event, this could lead to sustained and sustainable beneficial change, but with this I'm much less optimistic. With the danger over, I expect people will want to compensate for the 'time lost'.

    A propos of nothing, here's an old article from The Onion.


    Do discuss.