Dibujo en carboncillo de un coronavirus (charcoal drawing of a coronavirus). Image credit: Soledad Miranda-Rottmann, Wikimedia Commons

The global coronavirus pandemic has already affected most of the planet in innumerable ways. Beyond its devastating human health toll, we are witnessing atmospheric, resource use, ecological, cultural, economic, and political consequences materializing in many places and at a scale that is unprecedented and difficult to grasp. In the array of responses that have manifested so far as changes to policies, small business and industry practices, consumption, environmental management, and everyday behavior, we can glimpse lessons and experiences that could inform societies everywhere as we move deeper into the Anthropocene.

The pathologies, inequalities, and lack of resilience present in many countries are particularly visible. Countries have varied greatly in how they have (or have not) responded to the coronavirus. This range of responses provide insights into the importance of particular ecological, economic, political, social, or institutional conditions that can matter not just for surviving the COVID-19 pandemic now but for meeting climate change and other environmental challenges in the next few decades. In parallel, many community, government, academic, and industry initiatives are emerging to provide new capacity for adaptation and resilience as existing systems struggle to cope with COVID-19.

Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene is announcing a new special feature on COVID-19 and the Anthropocene that cuts across all of its domains (Atmospheric Science, Ecology & Earth Systems, Ocean Science, and Sustainability Transitions). Our editors-in-chief will help oversee this interdisciplinary special feature. Elementa is an open access journal that shares knowledge widely for our broad public good.

We welcome articles—in natural sciences, social sciences, policy, humanities, and many other disciplines—that address topics such as:

  • What are the environmental changes and impacts from reductions in consumption, industries, natural resource extraction (e.g., fishing), transportation (e.g. shipping and air travel), and manufacturing (e.g., observed decreases in air pollution on urban, regional, and global scales)?
  • How do COVID-19 changes affect greenhouse gas emissions, the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and trajectories of scenarios for global climate change? 
  • What does COVID-19 reveal about emerging diseases in an era of climate and global change?
  • How is the response to COVID-19 affecting ecosystems, both terrestrial and marine (e.g., changes in animal behavior, effects on habitat quality, human-wildlife interactions, underwater noise reductions)?
  • What are the long-term implications of COVID-19 for conservation goals?
  • How do different nations—with different starting conditions and dominant value systems—differ in their initial responses to the coronavirus and how does this affect the trajectory of infections in each country?
  • What does COVID-19 show us about political economic systems and supply chains that lack resilience (e.g., failures of just-in-time production and logics of efficiency)?
  • What behavioral change and resetting of social norms provide insights into how to tackle climate change or other environmental problems?
  • What can we learn from COVID-19 actions for making sustainability transitions (e.g., whether “war-time mobilizations” might work, what policies might be used, and the role of governments)?
  • How will responses to and consequences of COVID-19 affect environmental justice initiatives and outcomes?
  • How do alternative initiatives such as co-management of commons, community-based programs, and collaborative technology development grow to address the needs that COVID-19 is creating?

For papers that cover critical, urgent topics (e.g., health, key infrastructure, or alternative initiatives), we can provide accelerated review and publication. We welcome all article types published by Elementa, as well as slides or audio-video materials to supplement written narratives. This special feature will be ongoing so we welcome papers at any time.

For more about Elementa, please download our flier (PDF) or visit elementascience.org.

If you would like to contribute a paper to (or help with) this special feature, please describe your idea here. For more information or questions, please contact one of the Editors-in-Chief:

Steven Allison (Ecosystems and Earth Systems), University of California, Irvine: allisons@uci.edu
Jody Deming (Ocean Science), University of Washington: jdeming@elementascience.org
Detlev Helmig (Atmospheric Science), University of Colorado, Boulder: dhelmig@elementascience.org
Alastair Iles (Sustainability Transitions), University of California, Berkeley: iles@berkeley.edu
Anne Kapuscinski (Sustainability Transitions), University of California, Santa Cruz: akapuscinski@elementascience.org

About Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene

Open Science for Public Good.

Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene is a trans-disciplinary, open-access journal committed to the facilitation of collaborative, peer-reviewed research. With the ultimate objective of accelerating scientific solutions to the challenges presented by this era of human impact, it is uniquely structured into distinct knowledge domains, and gives authors the opportunity to publish in one or multiple domains, helping them to present their research and commentary to interested readers from disciplines related to their own.
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