In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there seems to be only negative things to hear and watch wherever you go. But as weird as it may sound, there have been positive stories that have been caused by the pandemic. There have been videos and photos going viral of the natural world seen to be flourishing with the decreased pollution and human interaction. Some would say that the coronavirus is letting the Earth breath but does this mean that human deaths are the answer to the betterment of the planet?
The climate crisis and covid are one in the same
It is nothing new to hear about how climate change has had a major impact on people of minorities and third world countries. What has now begun to be similar is how COVID-19 has caused for death rates to be “significantly higher” in areas with worse air pollution levels. The destruction of biodiversity makes pandemics more likely. And just like with the impact of global heating, the corona virus is hitting black, brown and poor people the worst” (Segalov 2020). Once again, the minorities are the ones taking the blow of issues that were cast upon them by the elite. The coronavirus has then taken upon the similar stand point of being an environmental issues, which entails of it being a human rights issue. Similarly to climate change, covid-19 is risking the lives of those who do not have the access to resources in being able to dodge it. Those who need to continue going to work, have to take public transportation, can not afford insurance, and are at a higher risk for racism and police brutality are increasing the chances of black and brown bodies to be infected. The four reason why, according to the Washington Post are
1) High rates of underlying health conditions, and less acess to care
2) Black Americans hold a lot of ‘essential jobs’
3) Insufficient Information to black/brown communities
4) Housing Disparities
Changing the Ideals of Everyday Life
Since there is a national and in several countries, a continuance of a stay at home order, people are no longer using transportation of any kind. Since transportation is one of the major producers of carbon emission, the lack of usage in the past weeks has shown a significant improvement of air quality and pollution. In New York City alone, their pollution levels have decreased by 50% and 25% in China (Henriques 2020). These number go to show how much of an impact that humans have caused onto the atmosphere of Earth and how a few short months of home lockdown have decreased our involvement. Yet, this alone will not change the centuries of emissions and damage done onto the Earth. If we want to create permanent and enduring change, now would be a time to start with it. “We know from social science research that interventions are more effective if they take place during moments of change,” a statement that concludes the research done in Switzerland explaining that people who were unable to drive and given an access to an e-bike were less likely to drive once given back their car (Moser 2018). This is evidence can be used throughout the world and here in the United States also in beginning to take seriously the climate crisis that we are living in. We cannot let the misleading images of wildlife returning to their homes or canal water clearing up to distract the fact that once lockdown is lifted, the little environmental progress that was done will be gone and be worse than when the pandemic began.
How should we come out of this pandemic
This pandemic has really shown the true colors of not only people but also how governments act when their citizens’ lives are at stake. This fear and anxiety that we all are facing due to the pandemic should also be reflected onto the climate crisis. Yet the connotation that people must die and suffer, especially black/brown, poor, and disabled people, is not the solution to it. Instead, we must come together and acknowledge why it is that some issues affect some but not everyone, and how this can be battled. As shown, the decrease in grass emission has improved air quality, yet the air quality in black/brown communities remain the same for reasons such as still needing to be able to get to work. In many places, people depend on their local environment and natural resources to live off of; food, jobs etc. “As the crisis causes disruptions in their linkages to both national and international demand-side markets, rural producers, of whom many are women supporting entire households, are now no longer able to fully maintain their business models and livelihoods” (Hamwey 2020). This will cause for these people to leave their sustainable production and go look somewhere else for income which would result in the continuation of poverty and the over-exploitation of natural resources and environment. Before we know it the pandemic will cease but only to to the elite and same with the climate crisis where only a few will be able to leave unscratched.
- Hamwey, Robert. 2020. “Environemntal impact on coronavirus crisi, challenges ahead.” UNCTAD. https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2333
- Henriques, Martha. 2020. “Will Covid-19 have a lasting impact on the environment?” BBC Future. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200326-covid-19-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-the-environment
- Moser, Corinne. 2018. “E-bike trials’ potential to promote changes in car owners mobility habits.” IOPScience. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaad73
- Segalov, Michael. 2020. “The parallels between coronavirus and climate change are obvious.” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/04/parallels-climate-coronavirus-obvious-emily-atkin-pandemic
- Scott, Eugene. 2020. “4 reasons coronavirus is hitting black communities so hard.” The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/10/4-reasons-coronavirus-is-hitting-black-communities-so-hard/