COVID-19, The Environment And Us

By Marc-Alain Adjahi

COVID-19 and The Environment

As the World Earth Day was celebrated virtually - precisely on Wednesday the 22nd of April of this year - we set our minds towards thinking about our home again. The theme for this year is ‘Climate Action’, and that is a very important and discussed topic nowadays.

With the novel Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, our beautiful world has slowed down its incredible consumption and economic development rate. Many of the elements which contribute to high consumption and high development contribute to the dangerous pollution levels in our world. By this, we speak of air pollution, water pollution, and land pollution. Our greatly capitalist nations have led us to harming the planet in a very harsh way - but in a way that is still reversible, because that is the beauty of our Earth: it regenerates. We shall now see how the yet deadly and unfortunate virus pandemic is leaving a partly positive footprint on the Earth.

In the Northern hemisphere of the world, pollution rates are high as these are the most developed areas of the world. Many countries in Europe have ordered their population to remain isolated in their respective homes to prevent the spread of the virus. As logic suggests, this drastic reduction of movement in Europe has caused transport-related carbon emissions to reduce in a very impactful way. Satellite heat maps have shown a very large size reduction in zones where the colour is usually dark purple (hottest zones). 

In addition to this, many commercial airlines have been forced to ground all of their planes in response to an almost total reduction in flight demands and also as a result of government-ordered actions. The flight industry accounts for 5% of carbon emissions each year. Textile industries have also closed their factories, responding to a lack of demand. However, a small number of those have remained open to produce masks which are currently in explosive demand. Even though this is true, the overall conclusion for this industry is that it has stopped most of its pollution.

Moving on, we find that the biggest polluters - oil and fuel companies - have taken very violent hits from the pandemic. Prices are skydiving and production and consumption rates are as well. This can only be good for the environment’s “health” as fuel and oil consumption are its bane. Secondary and tertiary goods industries have greatly reduced their need for electricity, and knowing that often, electricity comes from power plants that pollute, this tells us that air pollution overall has decreased.

Land pollution also produces a certain amount of greenhouse gases, so it also contributes to pollution. Its impressive decrease as human beings are now stuck inside their houses and stripped from the ability to litter as much as they do is a good event for Earth and the environment inside it. 

Finally, the year 2020 seems to be one in which climate action has been forced upon the world. For their survival, human beings have been obligated to cut down carbon emissions and inevitably reduce their activities which are lethal to Earth. We can see it as Earth’s ‘reaction’ to what has been done to it, as it is like the human being - it is reactive!

By Nnedi Hirnet

Earth Day: Climate Action

For many years now, the constantly rising emission of greenhouse gases has led to a rapid increase in global warming, and very obvious climate change. Statistics have proven that a change must be made, and that the human population must take climate action, in order to decrease the rate at which climate change is occurring. Greta Thunberg, a well-known climate activist, for instance, has launched the Friday’s for future campaign. A plea for awareness of the dangers that await us if we do not make a change.

Teenagers all over the world joined Greta in protesting every Friday, for 54 consecutive weeks. Even now, as the world is practising social distancing, Greta continues her campaign from home. Fridays for future has urged many leaders to make a change, and although this change is progressing only slowly, climate action is being taken. For instance, More and more electricity is being created with the use of water, wind and solar sources. Furthermore, Climate action has been taken on an individual level as well. Plastic bags are used much less, and are being replaced by cotton, or paper bags. Also as a means of transport, people are urged to walk or ride a bike. If this is not possible, public transport is being promoted as a good means of transport. 

The most successful decision made so far was that as of 2021, climate change is to be implemented in the curriculum of primary and secondary school education. This teaches children the vitality and importance of the conservation of our earth from an early age, and leads to responsible behaviour towards earth henceforth. Governments are yet to take action that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, but calling to awareness the effects they have on us and our earth has put a large amount of pressure on these governments to do so.

The coronavirus pandemic has also largely aided the recovery of the environment. The human species is responsible for the rapid increase in global warming, and is also at fault for the destruction of the environment that surrounds us. With the rapid contamination and spreading of the coronavirus, many jobs have been transferred to home-working, and schools have adapted their lessons to e-learning. Cars are rarely used, and so the emission of CO2 gas from car exhausts has been reduced greatly. Also, the environment has flourished in multiple other ways. In Venice, canals have cleared up, and different species of fish have returned. In effect, corona has proven helpful in preserving many animal species, saving them from extinction. This has also led the Chinese government to ban wildlife trade, so not only is corona helping preserve wildlife, it is also leading the human species to take initiative in assuming a larger role in wildlife preservation.

We still have a long way to go if we want to turn around the climate for the better. Nonetheless, with raising awareness, and fighting for our future, many governments have started to take initiative, and introduce nationwide laws or projects in an attempt to slow down global warming. Nonetheless, this year lacked climate action. With the global pandemic that is Covid-19 impairing any actions in the near future, many are making the world a better place from home.

By Charlotte Philips

The Earth

We are criminals behind bars. Why criminals? Well, according to the dictionary of Oxford, a criminal is a person who has committed a crime.

Every single one of us has committed a crime. No matter the value of that specific crime, truth is, it is something that has happened. The biggest crime that humanity, as a whole, has ever committed is that we did not take drastic measures in pampering the home we all share together, the Earth.

The Earth is a home that connects all of us. But we have failed to take good care of it. Today we have cars releasing toxins, humans littering and the worst in my opinion, engaging in activities of deforestation. Why would we murder nature, when it gives us air to breathe, provides us with medicine and gives us food? The audacity! Ever since the industrial revolution, we have seen an increase in the usage of oil and fossil fuels. As we all know, they then release carbon dioxide and other toxic elements into the atmosphere. The summer of 2019 was the warmest summer ever recorded for the northern hemisphere.The average global temperature in August was 1.66 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 60.1 degrees, tying it with 2015 and 2017 as the second-hottest August in the 140-year record, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

This is overwhelming and dangerous. We needed to change something but we did not. I believe that nature took matters into its own hands and created the Coronavirus, Covid 19. Ever since numerous countries have been on a lockdown and people are deprived of the freedom of going outside, rivers have been cleared out and now are back to their optimum status, animals are not afraid and don't hide anymore, and the carbon dioxide percentage has lowered.

When we go back to what we so call “normal”, what normal will it be? Living our lives carefree or living our lives with the clean start the world has given us? The Earth is our home, it is our connection with one another and it is our responsibility.

By Charlotte Philips

Social Distancing

My home is now my cage. I am confident when I say that none of us ever dreamt of our homes mutating into jail cells. Our safe space has become a place we are eager to leave. Something such as a touch used to be a form of love but now is dangerous. We avoid touch as much as possible to protect the ones we love. Bizarre isn't it?

I am a person who enjoys the company of my friends. I might not recall every single moment I spent with them but I know that every moment helped in creating the person I now am. It is challenging for us humans not to interact with one another, simply because it's in our nature. We find it difficult to be alone with ourselves and our thoughts for too long, and this is when we need others the most.

At first, I found it challenging to constantly be at home. Before that, I would wake up, have breakfast, get ready for school and then go to school. I had a routine, and having a routine is important to me. I know what to do and when to do it. Now I wake up and open up my laptop to have classes. In the beginning, I thought that it was fun, but after just a few days, maybe even after the first day I got sick and tired of it. Like many others, I did not want that to be my life. Away from my friends, away from my teachers, and away from my routine. By now, I have gotten the hang of solitude. I do wish that I had my brothers with me so I would not be alone in this house, but at least I know that they're safe.

After some mental breakdowns I finally got to see the brighter side of the solitude. I have a lot of reflection time. There is no one here but me who can help me evolve and grow. I have gotten used to this situation and now I'm learning how to grow by myself and on my own. I have discovered sides of me that I never knew I had, I slowly am achieving small goals I have set out for myself to keep myself occupied and I am learning how to keep myself sane.

I know that our life expectancy is long, but we will never get as much free time as we have right now. This is the moment where you find out who you are by discovering new aspects about yourself, trying out new things, and allowing yourself to be creative.

Overall, these are difficult times for us, but we can always make the most out of it.

If you miss someone, modern technology has given the opportunity for us to contact one another through social media, the internet and many more. This is the time when we should reconnect with the other to check if they are doing fine but most importantly, we need to reconnect with ourselves.

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