CBS Finds Corona ‘Silver Lining’ to Humans ‘Mucking Everything Up’

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Once again, CBS is finding the environmental “silver lining” to a global pandemic that has killed almost 300,000 people and is destroying the economy. This time, the CBS This Morning team sent a reporter to Venice, Italy to find the upside to COVID-19. Co-host Gayle King described the environmental rebound (less pollution, more animals moving freely) as a response to humans “mucking everything up.”

But first, co-host Anthony Mason explained, “Venice, one of the world's most famous cities, has suffered without its usual tourists. But it's enjoyed an unintended benefit.” Reporter Chris Livesay cheered, “There's one silver lining no one can deny: staying at home has been largely good for the environment. And here in Venice, this lagoon city has returned to its pre-industrial tranquility.”

Mason marveled of the devastated Italian city: “It's lovely to see it empty.” He quickly added, “It can’t survive that way.” A tone deaf King responded, “Yeah. Look at the human beings mucking everything up.”

 

 

On March 19, CBS This Morning touted the “crystal clear waters of the Venice canals.” Co-host Vladimir Duthiers cheered, “This is a map, a satellite map showing you the level of pollution that has gone away the past three months because of the reduction of emissions across northern Italy.” At that point, Italy’s death toll was 3,000. It’s now 30,000. Do journalists not see how unseemly all this “silver lining” talk sounds?

On March 9, PBS’s Christiane Amanpour found, you guessed it, another environmental silver lining. Apparently, all this death is reducing carbon emissions in China as well:

So if there is a silver lining to this crisis, it's visible in the skies above China. The dramatic slowdown in manufacturing and driving has caused a reduction in carbon emissions. We've all seen these NASA satellite images which show the improvement in China's air quality.

On April 18, NBC worried that the “environmental benefits” of the pandemic “may not last.”

However, kudos to CBS on Wednesday for at least finally pulling back on the praise enough to understand the devastation. Livesay acknowledged:

Without tourists, covid-19 has left the economy here gasping for air. This fish monger says he'll go bankrupt selling to venetians alone. There's only 50,000 of them compared to 30 million tourists who used to come every year. Something you can see clearly at night when the few lights on are of the few people who live here. The many homes with lights off of the many tourists now gone. The mayor is desperate for them to come back. "We're not dying of coronavirus," he tells business leaders at this demonstration, "We're dying of hunger." 

A transcript of the segment is below. Click “expand” to read more.

CBS This Morning

5/13/2020

8:18:01 to 8:21:29

CBS graphic: Venice’s Eco-Revival: Nature Flourishes in Tourist-Free City During Lockdown

ANTHONY MASON: Italy was Europe's first epicenter for the coronavirus outbreak, but now it's starting to reopen. Venice, one of the world's most famous cities, has suffered without its usual tourists. But it's enjoyed an unintended benefit. Chris Livesay traveled to the city of water to see how nature is suddenly flourishing.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Good morning. As hard as the lockdown has been on all of us, there's one silver lining no one can deny: staying at home has been largely good for the environment. And here in Venice, this lagoon city has returned to its pre-industrial tranquility. Venice, perhaps more than any other city under lockdown, has gone from one extreme to the other. The Rialto Bridge, the Grand Canal, even St. Mark's square deserted. Streets and canals usually awash with tourists now so still nature is filling the void, says ecologist Marco Sigovini.

Oh, my gosh. [Looking at ducks.] Yeah, there he is under the ropes. With babies. Nearby an octopus beneath a dock. Schools of fish and underwater life. Jellyfish like the one we spotted. Hardly any boats to scare them away or to churn up cloudy sediment. The transformation so dramatic the European Space Agency snapped satellite images taken one year apart. Conspicuously absent, cruise ships. Last year more than 600 passed through. Their titanic size splashing corrosive wake on these fragile foundations says environmental scientist Jane Da Mosto. What is going on with the steps? They look like they're about to fall in the water.

JANE DA MOSTO: They probably are about to fall in the water.

LIVESAY: Once last year the damage was not so gradual. Four people were injured when this cruise liner slammed into a venetian dock. But today?

DA MOSTO: It's more like a lake, and I just imagine that all the buildings in Venice are kind of singing to each other. And they must be so relieved not to be so bashed around.

LIVESAY: Without the ship’s billowing exhaust, there's been a marked improvement in air quality though not without a cost. Empty bridges, empty canals, but also empty pockets. Without tourists, covid-19 has left the economy here gasping for air. This fish monger says he'll go bankrupt selling to venetians alone. There's only 50,000 of them compared to 30 million tourists who used to come every year. Something you can see clearly at night when the few lights on are of the few people who live here. The many homes with lights off of the many tourists now gone. The mayor is desperate for them to come back. "We're not dying of coronavirus," he tells business leaders at this demonstration, "We're dying of hunger." It's striking that delicate balance between the ecology and the economy that's going to determine the future of Venice. For now, it seems like there's a tension between public health and public wealth here and around the world. Chris Livesay, CBS News, Venice.

MASON: Such a beautiful city. And it's lovely to see it empty, Gayle, but it -- as Chris said, it can't survive that way.

GAYLE KING: Yeah. Look at the human beings mucking everything up. I hope they can find a balance between the economy and the ecology. I hope they can work that out.

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