Based on research by Hyunseo Lee
It’s a truth globally acknowledged that a single world in possession of a terrible pandemic must be in want of a cure. It’s no secret that COVID-19 has had a great impact on everyone. The rich, the poor, the healthy, the sick. The pandemic has spread to every corner of the world, and no matter the vaccines, the world still remains sicker than ever. With the ongoing buzz around the pandemic, other crucial issues are often blocked out, silenced or ignored. From the world’s eyes, that seems sensible. Health is humanity’s richest blessing, after all, and no government should neglect that. But what’s health without a home?
Many things have been hit badly by the pandemic, and there is no opposition against the damaged things being addressed. One of the things is the environment, but the relationship between the climate crisis and COVID-19 has been debatable. In ways that are for the worse or for the better, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our home.
For instance, COVID-19 has unfortunately shut down many businesses. One of the outcomes is that many have switched to online shopping or delivery businesses. This is detrimental because if so, there will be an increased use of plastic and disposables, ultimately intensifying the heightened waste emissions and pollution. As a matter of fact, 8.4 ± 1.4 million tons of ‘pandemic-associated plastic’ have been created by 193 countries as of last year August, along with 25.9 ± 3.8 thousand tons of plastic being released into the world’s oceans.
However, among the dark, emerges light too. Though many businesses have been closed and lots have been severely affected by it, the power demand has been significantly reduced. Due to multiple lockdowns, there has been a reduction in both power and oil demand as well, meaning that there is an improvement in the emissions of greenhouse gases. According to research, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to decrease by 5.5% this year. Compared to past financial crises, or wars, this is a much larger amount. The largest reduction in the past before, was in World War 2, when 845 million tons of carbon dioxide was foregone. Due to a temporary reduction in daily emissions (from vehicles, factories, etc.), global carbon dioxide emissions fell by 2.3 billion tons.
Although there was a reduction in transportation, the ones that remain still contribute. Unfortunately, many have opted to stop using public transport, which leads to a steady decline. Scared of the possible transmission of germs from an infected person, most have switched to individual vehicles, which means more vehicles on the road, more carbon emissions. In fact, in 2020, the public transport usage rate was reduced to half of what it used to be. And in February 2020, compared to December 2019, the number of public transport users decreased by 49.8%. In the same period of time, the number of transactions declined by 58.4%, and the amount of transactions, by 52.4%.
Another consequence the pandemic has brought to the world is economic failures. Due to the many economic downturns, there has been a shrink in investment for low-carbon industries. As a result, many green industries will struggle and their environmental impact will be weakened.
Therefore, in conclusion, COVID-19 brings a few benefits to nature, but even so, has a more negative footprint instead. That’s why solutions to build a sustainable lifestyle and economy need to be looked for, while little actions that help the environment need to be repeated.