According to NASA, “Earth’s climate has changed throughout history.” In the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat. The last ice age ending about 11,700 years ago marked the beginning of the modern climate era and human civilization. Signs of climate change include higher temperatures, more droughts, changes in weather patterns, melting glaciers and sea ice resulting in a rising sea level etc. As climate changes continue, the worse the effects become and the more the Earth is destroyed. According to History.com, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared the corona virus a pandemic after “barreling through 114 countries in three months and infecting over 118,000 people”. The first case was reported in the Hubei Province of China and went unrecognized. Here are some ways in which climate change and the corona virus may affect one another.
Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Director of Harvard Chan Center for Climate, Health and The Global Environment, took to a post on Harvard’s website to answer some of the most common questions regarding climate change and COVID-19. He writes that although there is no direct evidence that climate change is impacting the spread of COVID-19, it is known that climate change alters how we relate to other species on Earth, which matters to our health and risk of infection. More specifically, Dr. Bernstein writes “Many of the root causes of climate change also increase the risk of pandemics. Deforestation, which occurs mostly for agricultural purposes, is the largest cause of habitat loss worldwide. Loss of habitat forces animals to migrate and potentially contact other animals or people and share germs. Large livestock farms can also serve as a source for spillover of infections from animals to people.” He is saying that animals migrating due to climate change reasons can possibly lead to interactions with animals that they may not normally be around, which may lead to the spread of germs and illnesses. If the coronavirus spreads, it’s possible to transfer to humans through interaction or consumption. Dr Bernstein goes on to write that it is more likely for people to die if they are living in areas with poor air quality, taking factors into effect such as pre-existing medical conditions, socioeconomic status, and access to healthcare according to recent research conducted by colleagues at Harvard Chan. Bernstein writes “People who are exposed to more air pollution and who smoke fare worse with respiratory infections than those who are breathing cleaner air, and who don’t smoke. In places where air pollution is a routine problem, we have to pay particular attention to individuals who may be more exposed or vulnerable than others to polluted air, such as the homeless, those who don’t have air filtration in their homes, or those whose health is already compromised. These individuals may need more attention and support than they did even before coronavirus came along.” This shows that since air pollution is one factor causing climate change, it is affecting people because the air quality is diminishing as climate change progresses, especially during these troubling times. Thus, the morality rate for COVID-19 rises due to more and more people being unable to breathe.
A warming planet poses as an issue for the planet’s stability. According to the Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan writes “More people will be displaced by natural disasters. Droughts and the resulting food shortages could trigger political conflict. Societies ravaged by wars and humanitarian crises are less able to maintain the infrastructure needed to preserve public health. The loss of clean water, access to health care and disease surveillance from government agencies can make it easier for pathogens to spread.” As the planet warms, environments become polluted making it more difficult for those fighting the virus. Leading climate scientists have said that higher temperatures will lead to people being exposed to increasing concentrations of allergens, ozone, and small particles that can be irritating to the lungs.
In conclusion, the global pandemic and global climate change can affect one another in many ways. Some big concerns include the increase in temperatures causing the morality rate of COVID to increase due to people fighting off the virus being exposed to particles that’ll affect their lungs and higher temperatures making it difficult to breathe. Animals being forced to migrate due to climate change reasons could be linked to interactions that could result in viruses exploring new hosts through opportunities from encountering other animals and humans.
Bernstein, Aaron. “Coronavirus and Climate Change.” C-CHANGE | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 6 July 2020, www.hsph.harvard.edu/c-change/subtopics/coronavirus-and-climate-change/.
“Pandemics That Changed History.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 27 Feb. 2019, www.history.com/topics/middle-ages/pandemics-timeline.
“Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?” NASA, NASA, 6 Oct. 2020, climate.nasa.gov/evidence/.
Kaplan, Sarah. “Climate Change Affects Everything – Even the Coronavirus.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 15 Apr. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/04/15/climate-change-affects-everything-even-coronavirus/