Climate Change During the Covid-19 Pandemic

We are going through very strange times. We live in a world no one ever imagined, something like a science-fiction movie…

Until 6 months ago we described the most important danger to humanity as “climate change”. There was little time left for declaring this as a top priority among all segments of the society and the governments had to take urgent action.

Climate change is still valid and requires urgent action, however; we are now in another world. Something ground-breaking happened that made us realise how we had been taking things for granted, that has disrupted our individual lifestyles and the social and economic environment we live in. A virus outbreak has affected nearly the entire world and is continuing to do so. We now live in a world with an uncertain future.

Scholars and opinion leaders have been rightly discussing whether there is any link between the two vital issues concerning the world’s future: “climate change and COVID-19” Is climate change a factor among the causes of the virus breakout? Basically, scientists say that Coronavirus is not, directly or indirectly, caused by climate change. However, the fact is climate change may also cause similar pandemics in the future. But how? We all know that as a result of global warming, glaciers in the arctic are melting in quite a fast pace. Melting will lead today’s humanity to face with bacteria and viruses that were trapped in the ice and frozen soil for thousands of years. It is very hard to predict the potential impacts on mankind as people of our age has never encountered these organisms.  We may face with pandemics similar to COVID-19 in the near future. Apart from this, ecosystem and zoological effects of climate change may also trigger diseases we know or different versions of these diseases. Our global lifestyle unfortunately is a major factor in these pandemics getting out of control.

On a side note, as we are talking about health, it’s worth noting that cases of heat waves and droughts caused by climate change will be among the impacts affecting the humanity more and more each day in the future.

If there is any winning party in this pandemic, almost all of us would agree, it is our Earth. COVID-19 made almost all of the world population “stop” and had the Earth take a breath. Halted production lines, vehicle traffic, airlines led the weather and seas clean up in the cities. We all have been watching in awe how mother nature can heal herself and admired her once more. Societies have become aware about their consumption craze and partly its harm to the environment. In the period that we spent home, some of us questioned ourselves and our habits and maybe some of us made new promises regarding our future lifestyles.

Frankly, the situation we suddenly faced while in full speed to future focused on digitalisation, automation, robotics, coding and innovation changed our priorities. We have seen how vulnerable we actually are while thinking futuristically. As we think about how we will shape the future, we see values that are centred more around humanism, equity and sharing.

Going back to climate change, it’s a fact that “pausing” has benefited the world. Still, though, carbondioxyde emissions are high compared to last year. We need to move forward to a carbon neutral world urgently. We need to continue our fight against global warming with the acceleration we achieved thanks to COVID-19(!). As Greta says the facts proven by science are apparent and we only need to act. We will have a chance for a promising future only if we use the limited time before us for mitigation/adaptation as regards impacts of climate change. While COVID-19 benefited our Earth from this perspective, its threat to the humanity is serious.

Following this historic period that we all want it over as soon as possible, we hope to end up with a more human centred and just world that respects the nature and all living creatures.

Author: Gaye Erkan, WEglobal Grant Expert and Project Management Consultant

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