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COVID-19 as an Eye-Opener

The recent pandemic of COVID-19 has resulted in lockdowns everywhere   in order to maintain social distancing and reduce the spread of the virus. This has caused unprecedented reductions in air pollution around the world; major cities have seen drops up to 60% from previous years during the few weeks of the lockdown. Places such as New Delhi, which is known to be one of the most polluted city, saw a 60% reduction in emissions, and had the number of emission hours dropped from 68% to 17%. Seoul, South Korea’s capital, saw a 54% drop and China had a 44% drop. This situation may not a long-term solution to air pollution, but this shows that we are capable of reducing the pollution that creates dangerous living conditions and contributes to global warming. This  reveals that if the world comes together, it is possible to drastically reduce the amount of toxic air pollution that is a danger to both people and the environment. The difference between COVID-19 and the threat of climate change is imminence: the virus is more active and  it spreads quickly, whereas climate change is a gradual and long process but no less deadly.

The fact that air pollution has drastically been reduced in such a short amount of time goes to show how possible it is to change our ways and fix all the contributing factors to climate change, including factories, transportation, and greenhouse gasses. By using more clean sources of energy, you can begin to see the effects of cleaner air. If shutting down everything for a span of two to three weeks caused heavily polluted areas to drop  60% of its contaminants, then a small step towards the right direction can gradually decrease the average and cause more of a drop.

We should not have to wait for an active threat to start working on a solution. The world was unprepared for COVID-19, and it is going to be a much more difficult task to remedy climate change when it is too late. After all, there is no vaccine or cure that can miraculously make it go away. Preventing it is a lifestyle and a consistent change we must make to fix the issue we caused. Lowering air pollution in these cities can also help prevent the severity in which diseases can kill, because studies have shown that there is a greater risk in bacterial-related fatalities in polluted areas, (but it is not certain that pollution  a direct cause.)

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/04/811019032/why-chinas-air-has-been-cleaner-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

The fact of the matter is that we should look at COVID-19 as a wakeup call towards the looming danger that is climate change. With the continuation of climate change, the amount of economic damage and widespread deaths that are caused by COVID-19 is nothing compared to the dangers of climate change. The cure for COVID-19 may not take as long to develop  in comparison to the solution of long-term damage to our environment, which includes the devastation of  the economy, food industry, national security, and health services. Overall, the impact of climate change is not to be taken lightly, and if we cannot handle a pandemic overnight, then we are terribly underprepared for the long-term changes of climate change.

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2 Responses

  1. I wholeheartedly agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how greatly humankind can reduce carbon emissions. However, realistically speaking, it just shows what humans contribute to carbon emissions and not what will actually happen should better energy alternatives be utilized. It could well be a long transition for these companies to make and they will only transition to a better energy alternative than carbon if it’s both feasible and more importantly cheaper or still within a good profit margin. Of course laws, tariffs, and restrictions could help expedite this transition, but overall carbon emissions won’t see drastic permanent reductions over a short period of time like we see today with the pandemic. Unfortunately, the world won’t see much reduction in carbon emissions unless advancements are made in technology and energy sources that will allow for companies worldwide to keep up with the world’s ever increasing demand for production and profit-fueled agendas.

    Another thing to note is that the coronavirus hasn’t done much in terms of climate change. Climate change pertains to the total of carbon emissions over time, COVID-19 really hasn’t made much of an impact to the damage already caused and won’t cause much of a reduction to the global average temperature. We are in desperate need of a change using energy alternatives/green energy as well as changing to electric cars and more. We need something more permanent rather than a temporary change to climate change forced by quarantine within this pandemic. It’s unlikely for world leaders to make economic responses after the pandemic that will not result in an increase in carbon emissions. Carbon emissions after the pandemic could (and most likely will) be higher than they were before the pandemic due to countries trying to jump-start their economies. On a brighter note though, the pandemic has allowed everyone worldwide (and especially those in the US) to start to question the various decisions of our leaders and how profit-driven many of them are. Whether we come out stronger or weaker in actions against climate change remains to be seen.

  2. I agree with Eric’s blog about the unprecedented reduction of air pollution in major cites during the Coronavirus lockdowns. In her CNN report, “Air pollution falls by unprecedented levels in major global cities during coronavirus lockdowns” by Helen Regan, studies were done by researchers from IQAir, a global air quality information and tech company. IQAir studied 10 major cities around the world which had been under lockdown during this pandemic. They compared levels of harmful microscopic particulate matter known as PM 2.5. The pollutant, which is smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, is considered particularly dangerous as it can lodge deep into the lungs and pass into other organs and into the bloodstream, causing serious health risks.
    In New Delhi, during the 3-weeks lockdown period, there was a 60% reduction in PM2.5 levels from March 23 to April 13 from the same period in 2019. In the South Korean capital Seoul there was a 54% reduction in PM2.5 level during this period compared to previous years. In Los Angeles, there was a 31% reduction in air pollution compared the same time from last year.

    reference : https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/22/world/air-pollution-reduction-cities-coronavirus-intl-hnk/index.html

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