20 pledges for 2020: It took coronavirus to show how much we hurt the world and sport is a big part of that
Mainstream sport has a hugely negative impact on the world around us, yet extreme sports aim to bring us together as one with nature. It's time to start asking what the sporting world can do to prevent global warming
The unprecedented coronavirus outbreak has seen all sport cancelled in the United Kingdom along with most major sporting events worldwide, with great uncertainty growing over when it will resume and whether fans can attend.
It is a concerning time for the world as we know it, and the coming weeks and months will go a long way to redefining not just sport but the way we go about life each and every day. That impact is already being seen in terrifying and tragic ways, but there have also been small positives that simply would not have been seen without a pandemic of this proportion.
The impact of the coronavirus on the environment has been, quite frankly, eye-opening. The sight of fish and river birds returning to the now clear waters of Venice thanks to the ban on boats moving through the canals is just a small sign of the changes. The European Space Agency has noted a “significant decline” in the levels of nitrous dioxide over Northern Italy due to the country’s enforced lockdown after almost 2,000 died and more than 24,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The Formula One circus was due to head from Melbourne to Bahrain this week, before going on to Vietnam and China by the middle of next month, while MotoGP was expecting to go from Qatar to Thailand, then on to the United States and Argentina - an enormous travel load when the size of the paddocks are taken into consideration.
The process of moving all 10 F1 teams in personnel and equipment, along with tyre suppliers Pirelli, FIA and Formula One officials and the hundreds of thousands of fans who travel to events by plane, train and automobile, contributes enormously towards climate change.
Given how many motorsport teams run out of Northern Italy - Ferrari, Alpha Tauri and Pirelli are all based in Italy’s hardest-hit areas on top of numerous motorcycling outfits - the complete suspension on motorsport events will have contributed to cutting the harmful emissions in this region.
That it has taken this tragedy to show just how big an impact our actions have on the environment highlights our embarrassing ignorance, given it has taken under two weeks for man-made changes to reverse. There will be plenty of lessons that come out of the current pandemic but it is important not to allow climate change to be put on the backburner, to instead allow it to be part of the conversation - particularly given how healthy living and looking after the world around us go hand in hand.
Self-isolation will bring plenty of time to assess what we do and don’t like about our lives and how we can bring about change for the better. Sport is not exempt from that period of reflection, and now is a better time than any to think just how much the current way of life hurts the world around us so much.