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.)
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.