COVID-19 practices could help environment

Opinion

By ABBEY HALTER

While humans across the globe have retreated to their homes to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic, the earth has started to heal from our daily destruction.

The air feels clearer, the ocean is cleaner than in decades and wildlife has returned to previously uninhabited environments. Even NASA has documented the drastic decline of nitrogen dioxide levels over China, one of the most densely populated countries in our world.

If this epidemic has taught the human population anything, it’s that early detection and action is what can save lives – a fundamental ideology that needs to be practiced when dealing with the global climate crisis. For instance, the Trump Government in the United States and the Ardern Government in New Zealand are in sharp contrast.

After weeks of denial and claiming the world was exaggerating the threat of COVID-19, Donald Trump failed to provide his country with adequate testing and enforced “stay at home” orders. This has led to the U.S. becoming the country with the fastest growing rate of new cases in the world according to Johns Hopkins University data. By the end of April, more than a million Americans had been infected.

On the contrary, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in late March that the country would be placed on a level four full national lockdown with a rapid escalation of physical distancing and travel restrictions. New Zealand has “flattened the curve” and now has one of the lowest Covid-19 morality rates in the world, according to Oxford University.

This pandemic has amplified the importance in controlling risk before it becomes unmanageable. Denying the existence and importance of the climate crisis will only lead to increased death and destruction, rather than life-saving solutions that could save us and our planet. The same pre-emptive strikes the Ardern Government made could be implemented in our approach to environmental sustainability.

A return to “business as usual” and concept of what is normal needs a serious reinvention.

The longer we wait for government solutions, the fewer the resources at our disposal. Economic growth needs to be given less weight than the dangers of the climate crisis and we need to change the narrative that climate action is too unrealistic or expensive. In this era of mass technological advances, workplaces could start to consider ways in which employees are able to work from home, just like we are during this worldwide quarantine.

This initiative would be a massive reduction in fossil fuels and traffic congestion. Additionally, many people have already adjusted during this time to having their groceries delivered straight to their homes which is another convenient way to moderate fossil fuels. Humans produce an incredible amount of waste, but particularly when we buy from company giants who may have little regard for the huge footprint they create. Instead, we could all try to limit what we buy to things we need rather than want, and support local, environmentally conscience businesses when we do.

This pandemic has shown us that it will take some re-adjusting to new ways of life, but it is possible to revolutionise. We need to invest in our life-sustaining environmental systems such as clean water, fresh air and a stable climate before it’s too late.

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