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Global Pandemics & Climate Change

In the year 2020, the world went through a massive event that forced us all to go into lockdown and change the way we lived for the entirety of that year. COVID-19 had impacted us in numerous and heavy ways, as the day-to-day life we once experienced was changed. With a lockdown in place, almost everyone was out of work, whether it being in an office or being an outside worker such as construction, all these people left their jobs excluding first-responders and and health care workers as they needed to treat those who were infected. This created an impact of what was to come for the Earth itself. There was an indirect relationship between the pandemic itself and the effects of climate change with so many people being in lockdown.

When COVID-19 first struck, it was seen as a deadly virus spreading rapidly throughout the world, being called a pandemic and forcing a lockdown among countries. Healthcare workers in hospitals and medical buildings often require no use of fossil fuels or greenhouse gases, as their tools and technology are interior to the building itself without needing massive power sources. As opposed to  factory workers and those in industrial services who were commuting by car or plane, which all contributed to climate change with the release of carbon emissions. This then proves the relationship between climate change and the pandemic itself through the lockdown, as essential workers that wouldn’t require fossil fuels or release very little as opposed to all other industrial workers that would release carbon emissions at the same rate prior to before lockdown. Although the pandemic was a terrible event at the time, it seemed to have a positive impact on the environment and the climate throughout the world during the lockdown.


The image above shows dates of the pandemic spreading in late January to late February 2020, when the lockdown was initiated in China. In the first image, the yellow areas represent the amount of carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions being released into the atmosphere, showcasing the amount of carbon that was being produced by most of the workers before the lockdown was put into place. The image on the right depicts the same gist, representing the number of carbon emissions being released but very little to almost none as opposed to the first image. With the virus spreading fast and the lockdown being put in place, it’s clear that the pandemic had a positive impact on the environment. With the workers unable to travel and go to work, this led to a much greater reduction of greenhouse gases being released. The amount of carbon and greenhouse gases being reduced also depended on the city and the impact COVID had. If it was a large city in which COVID spread rapidly, the number of carbon emissions reduced would be much more significant. This effect was a worldwide cause too, as cities across the globe were experiencing this trend. Cities such as Wuhan, Beijing, New York City, Paris and many more were seeing greatly reduced carbon emissions and more healing of the environment, even if it was a slow process.


This image shows the same relationship of the pandemic and the emission of greenhouse gases in France, spread out in a length of a year rather than a month. It provides more of a difference between the year length span of how much carbon emissions were reduced as 2020 approached. If countries were to implement an idea of locking down for a short period of time, such as a week or 2 a few times per year, this could be a small step that could slow down the amount of carbon emissions being released, which would help us combat climate change. If the pandemic managed to teach us this without realizing it, then we may as well put a practice in place following the same trend we once went through that helped heal our planet for a bit. This necessarily doesn’t have to be as life changing as a pandemic but a small practice every country could perform to let our planet heal to what it once was.



Image Sources:

Jr., R. C. J. (n.d.). Are covid-19 shutdowns teaching us how to reverse the effects of climate change? University of Miami News and Events. https://news.miami.edu/stories/2020/03/are-covid-19-shutdowns-teaching-us-how-to-reverse-the-effects-of-climate-change.html

Environmental impact of covid-19 lockdowns seen from space. WTTW News. (n.d.). https://news.wttw.com/2020/04/02/environmental-impact-covid-19-lockdowns-seen-space


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  1. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our daily lives was undeniably profound, with lockdowns disrupting traditional work patterns and prompting a reevaluation of our environmental impact. The correlation between the lockdown measures and reduced carbon emissions is evident in the stark contrast illustrated in the images depicting pre-lockdown and lockdown periods. The decline in emissions, particularly in major cities like Wuhan, Beijing, New York City, and Paris, is a testament to the positive environmental effects of reduced industrial activities and travel during the pandemic.

    The pandemic inadvertently highlighted the interconnectedness of public health and environmental well-being. While healthcare workers operated in facilities with minimal reliance on fossil fuels, the widespread lockdown meant a significant decrease in carbon emissions from commuting and industrial processes. The images, whether spanning a month or a year, capture the tangible difference in greenhouse gas levels.

    As we navigate a post-pandemic world, there is a valuable lesson to be learned. The idea of periodic, short-term lockdowns, as suggested, could serve as a proactive measure to curtail carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. This proposal acknowledges the inadvertent environmental benefits observed during the pandemic and suggests a strategic approach to incorporate such practices without the life-altering implications of a global health crisis. By implementing measured and periodic lockdowns, nations could contribute to the ongoing healing of our planet, demonstrating a collective commitment to environmental stewardship inspired by the lessons of the pandemic era.

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