Among the distressing news of surges in the COVID-19 cases, economic recession and lack of resources, one would want to hear an outcome that could act as a light in these dark times. While the world has come to a halt due to the pertaining pandemic, various social media pages have tried to hop on the bandwagon of circulating misinformation in the name of positivity. A plethora of news is seen every day on social media platforms — most of them containing the impact of the coronavirus on the environment, wildlife, and the ecosystem. Reports of a drop in pollution and emission rate in the coronavirus affected countries have also made it into the news headlines.
With the lockdown of the country, along with a week-long holiday for the Chinese new year, The Centre of Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) reported a reduction in the NO2 emission level by 42% in the four weeks following the holiday in China. Within the same week, India went into a complete nationwide lockdown. A dramatic fall was noted in the country’s traffic pollution. According to CNN, almost every metropolitan city’s NO2 levels fell by ~70% in the month of March. Unfortunately, these countries required a dire and deadly global pandemic to be able to curb their industrial activities; indirectly alleviating the situation of climate change.
It was an impressive outcome, however, rather short-lived. CREA also reported the rise in pollution levels of China once the situation of coronavirus was controlled in various parts of the country. As the industries began to function again, the coal consumption and emissions returned to its normal rate. To overcome the lack of output, China increased its level of production, causing the levels of nitrogen dioxide and pollutants to rise considerably. It is assumed that the rest of the countries will follow suit and try to recover the economic slowdown, including India. They would fail to notice how the halt in human and industrial activities have caused the same results that they were trying to achieve by establishing numerous global environmental policies.
Interestingly, it was also noticed how the cases of COVID-19 were initially denied in several countries by their government due to the lack of awareness of the severity of the situation. They thought it would create mass hysteria and did not need immediate action. This included Italy and the USA, which are two of the worst-hit countries due to the outbreak.
A certain crisis that has also been similarly neglected and ignored for a long time is climate change.
As the deaths in the countries rose, it was impossible not to stop all the human activities to contain the coronavirus. Without drawing the parallels of intensity and urgency of the situation, it can be assumed that the global pandemic was seen as a serious crisis only due to the tangibility of its danger. However, if climate change was given an equally bigger platform to be talked about, a lot of facts would sprout which might show the extinction of the human race. Here, visibility is not the problem, but the acceptance and action of it. It would be distressing if people still failed to notice the adverse effects of global warming until it visibly threatens to wipe out the human population.
“The pandemic is a reminder of just how wicked a problem climate change is because it requires collective action, public understanding, and buy-in, and decarbonizing the energy mix while supporting economic growth and energy use around the world,” said Jason Bordoff, a former U.S. National Security Council senior director in an op-ed for Foreign Policy.
In the last six months, COVID-19 has affected more than seven million people worldwide. Climate change is a slow death that would soon catch up to us. It’s a cycle where every action matters. This lockdown is proof that global effort can make a huge change. If we put enough emphasis, world leaders and citizens alike can help control the escalating situation of climate change. Fearing to acknowledge such a severe problem could be the fear that would lead to the end of the world.