The global community is now racing to slow down and eventually halt the spread of COVID-19, a pandemic that has already claimed thousands of lives and sickened tens of thousands of others (World Health Organization, 2020).
In the midst of this rapidly moving global pandemic, everyone is looking for a silver lining when they read news about:
China and Europe have record-breaking pollution cuts
Italy coasts have dolphins coming nearer
Deers roaming on the streets of Japan
India can see the Himalayas for the first time after decades due to drop in air pollution level
The Earth is healing by itself
This might be one of the bright sides that people are trying to believe, but these signs are actually telling us that our economic system is dysfunctional and imbalance, which eventually impacted our environment and us. Here is why?
Reason 1: Lopsided City Development
This unintended climate impact resulted from Covid-19 pandemic due to the shutting down of countries and factories across the world is merely showing how countries and corporations are equipped to deal with destruction of slower-moving climate change crisis (CNBC, 2020).
The best example is where people in the northern Indian state of Punjab are reacting with awe at the sight of the Himalayan mountain range, which is now visible from more than 100 miles away due to the reduction in air pollution caused by the country’s lock down due to Covid-19 (CNN, 2020). Nevertheless, I think we have been too quick to celebrate this unintended climate impacts which come with a high cost, in which it killed thousands of people, companies face potential bankruptcy, people lost their jobs (CNBC, 2020).
Covid-19 may deliver some short-term climate benefits by curbing energy use or even longer-term benefits if economic stimulus is linked to climate goals (Health Policy Watch, 2020).
Reason 2: Human Activities
Human infectious disease outbreaks are rising in recent years such as Ebola, Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers), severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), bird flu, Dengue fever, and Zika virus. It is because our continued erosion of wild spaces for the uses of housing development, farming and mining has brought us uncomfortably close to animals and plants that harbour diseases that can pass on to humans (The Guardian, 2020).
Furthermore, illegal global animal trade has also further escalated the threat towards public health. The best example is the culture of eating exotic mammals like bats in southern China (Carrington, D., 2020).
Apart from that, the global heating resulted from the human activities became the third factor that forces the animals to move, in which creates an opportunity for the virus and disease to get into new hosts.
A Part of the Nature
Nature has sent us a message through this pandemic: Human is intimately interconnected with nature. According to the UN’s environment chief, Inger Anderson, humanity was placing too much pressure on the natural world with damaging consequences, and he warned that failing to take care of the planet means not taking care of ourselves.
Hence, as individual, here is what we can practice from ourselves to contribute in the long-term solutions to address climate crisis:
Practice sustainable way of consumption, for example reducing the usage of single-use plastic, practice carpooling, plant more trees, practice plant-based diets
Support and promote cleaner technologies
Create awareness and educate the younger generation
Participate in the conservation projects by environmental agencies
By doing so, we can win this race – Climate Crisis together!
Carrington, D. (2020). Coronavirus: ‘Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief. [website] Link: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-nature-is-sending-us-a-message-says-un-environment-chief?fbclid=IwAR3-vU5seqin2AV_MMdkUBM7i2uvylE3Dm0ROabLjbSNPsqFlUFBBf3pmEU
Fletcher, E.R. & Vijay, S.L. (2020). UN Climate Conference postponed until 2021 due to Covid-19; Experts debate pandemic’s impact on climate action. [website] Link: https://www.healthpolicy-watch.org/un-climate-conference-postponed-until-2021-due-to-covid-19-experts-debate-pandemics-impact-on-climate-action/
Newburger, E. (2020). Air pollution falls as coronavirus slows travel, but scientists warn of longer-term threat to climate change progress. [Website] Link: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/21/air-pollution-falls-as-coronavirus-slows-travel-but-it-forms-a-new-threat.html?fbclid=IwAR1dJ16MjFuEfeyiDSh0wx_6OA6pSmL-_GVQH0qib5r_pZOV9_9qxA02v5E
Picheta, R. (2020). People in India can see the Himalayas for the first time in ‘decades’, as the lockdown eases air pollution. [Website] Link: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/himalayas-visible-lockdown-india-scli-intl/index.html
Sutter, J. (2020). The pandemic isn’t fixing climate change. [website] Link: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/27/opinions/pandemic-not-fixing-climate-change-sutter/index.html?fbclid=IwAR301vRe7JSJ4hVLhyGeCpK9cZ1x8ub2cNNUVLvG4KjoJA-7JwMitpGjsw4
World Health Organization (2020). Coronavirus (Covid-19). [Website] Link: https://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus-covid-19