Climate Change vs COVID-19 – The Blatant Truth
“We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.”
– Barack Obama, Former US President
How true is the above statement! With population rising, economies expanding and industries flourishing, what is going south is the climatic equilibrium of the world. Last years have been the hottest, with winter temperatures also witnessing a rise. Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and we are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change. Public health is becoming a concern through air pollution, heatwaves and risks to food security.
The world today is at war with Covid-19. I agree that the world is facing one of the biggest pandemics ever. We’ve already witnessed over 30 million cases with around 1 million deaths, and this is going up every minute. We expect (or at least hope) that the situation will stabilize in next 6-12 months and the world would see the same sunshine again. However, the impact of climate change is like a slow poison, causing distress to all organs of the body one by one.
The world has faced, fought and won over several outbreaks and pandemics in the past, but the drastically changing climate has been one tough puzzle to crack for everyone.
It would be wrong to interpret that no one’s understanding the gravity of the situation. In fact, many commendable efforts are being made to challenge the status quo. Paris accord signed in 2015 by 197 countries was a historic move. Activists like Greta Thunberg have been working relentlessly to save the planet. But the work being done is still not enough- we have to make up for years of wreckage caused already. So, what can be done?
THE PANDEMIC IS BAD, BUT CLIMATE CHANGE IS WORSE.
I am simply not denying the fact that Covid-19 has caused havoc for humans. The world stands still while humans are confined to their homes. Businesses are shutting, and economies are collapsing. But my point is, while the global lockdown meant that planet Earth metaphorically stopped rotating and revolving, it has in one way or another opened our eyes to the scale of automatic environmental restoration, if human activities are temporarily put to halt.
A QUICK FACT CHECK:
– In New Delhi, where flights have been diverted in the past because of smog shrouding the airport, the air pollution levels have dropped 71% in just one week and remained low further.
– Twitter and other social handles flooded with images of Himalayas visible from parts of Punjab and UP, after almost 30-35 years.
– In a parallel universe, pandemic proved the hypothesis that prolonged work from home by corporates will not impact efficiency and productivity, thus reducing the stress on transport system, and saving tones of air pollution, caused daily due to work to office commute.
THIS TOO SHALL PASS. BUT WHAT AFTER IT ACTUALLY PASSES?
With the advancement of science, humans were able to win the war against Spanish Flu, Ebola, Asian Flu, Polio etc. Hundreds of scientists and pharma companies from numerous countries are working day and night to save the mankind. But what after all this stabilizes. The masses will come out with a sense of independence, as if they had been sentenced to prison for the last 10-12 months. They would do everything that they were prohibited to do till now. Major incentives would be given to kick-start the economy again, industries will try to achieve the pre-covid levels. And the result? All progress made on the environmental front over the past few months will be back to square one.
“If the economic restart isn’t done mindfully, pollution will come roaring back as industries try and catch up”
Mind you, the problem of climate change and greenhouse gases are being felt since the late 19th century. And since then the situation has become graver. Successful treatments of various diseases have been found in this period and same will be for Covid-19, but the harm we are causing to mother nature is still to be paid for.
“Small Steps Make Big Changes”, true – but we have reached to a stage where we need to come out of our comfort zones, revamp our lifestyles and bring massive changes to the legislation, else we are doomed to be the next dinosaurs. Google recently announced to become a carbon neutral business, joining Apple, Microsoft and Facebook in committing to put no excess carbon into the atmosphere. What about us? Do we keep relying on big names and industry giants to pave the way? What about our individual responsibility? Yes, what about it?
I’ll leave you with these thoughts to ponder upon. But, remember,
“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
– Jane Goodall