Climate Change and Covid-19
By Haley Norris
As countries begin to reopen hopefully under safe and well-timed guidelines, many leaders and private citizens are having to consider the effects of other global quandaries -
mainly climate change. The last few years have borne witness to protests, eco-conscious trends, and incalculable amounts of climate-related media. Social distancing has impacted the world’s carbon emissions but humans are not the virus nor will our carbon emissions continue to lower unless action is taken.
Companies and schools out of necessity have had to construct online/remote infrastructures. While individual people do not have a large scale impact on climate change as a whole, a large number of people changing small aspects of their routine can have a big effect on the environment.
Transportation is one of the highest polluting industries, but that might be changing in our world after Covid-19. Online/Remote working conditions have fared surprisingly well since social distancing, so well for some companies that they are looking at having their employees continue working remotely indefinitely such as Twitter and Square. If more companies decide to go this route, that means fewer commuters which could lead to a lower need for vehicles to be produced cutting manufacturing emissions.
You may be asking how that will impact jobs in manufacturing, especially now that the unemployment rate is so high. Jobs are a big topic right now and some countries have responded to unemployment with THE EARTH IN MIND! (Sorry I get really excited when a country’s governing body invests itself in the environment)
Pakistan, starting in 2018, chose to start a program called the “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami” in response to being listed as one of the top countries to be affected by global heating. Day laborers in Pakistan are currently being employed to plant trees as part of the project while maintaining social distancing. The laborers are paid less than they normally would but they also say it is enough to feed their families while Pakistan tries to figure out how to roll out a welfare infrastructure amidst a pandemic. The United States did something similar as part of the New Deal known as Works Progress Administration in 1935 after the Great Depression. I will say, I am curious if other countries will follow suit to battle unemployment and pandemic-related hunger.
On a more individual level, people are having to live off of what they have. I know that sounds odd but stay with me! In my own eco-conscious journey, I know one of my biggest struggles is using a product completely before I repurchased or found another option whether it is shampoo or ranch dressing. The environmental impact isn’t just the plastic packaging or waste from throwing something away before using all of it, it is the environmental cost of manufacturing, shipping, and landfills. Along with using what we have, the recent shortages have prompted people to become crafty and DIY things that they would normally buy.
All in all, it isn’t about how COVID-19 is currently affecting climate change but how we could use this opportunity to make more eco-conscious moves in the future. The IEA predicts that this year’s energy demand will be 6% less. 6 % does not sound like a lot, but it is equal to losing the entire energy need of India. We have the opportunity to make personal, professional, and political changes that could continue to lower our emissions and make our daily lives more sustainable.
****5 Easy things to do at home to start a climate-conscious lifestyle*****
- Use reusable plates, cups, water bottles, etc. instead of paper, plastic, or Styrofoam ones
- Start a compost or investigate local compost options
- Food does not always degrade in landfills because there isn’t oxygen and that food gives off gases that contribute to the climate crisis.
- Try not to order things online because you are bored
- If you do need to order, check out companies that have carbon-neutral shipping.
- Make your own pasta or bread
- Since bulk options aren’t available right now, pasta and bread have to be bought in packaging most often plastic.
- This is a really good activity to do with kids and there are countless recipes that require minimal ingredients.
- Find an eco-conscious blog/podcast that you really enjoy
- I personally like Shelbizlee on Youtube and the Live Planted podcast!
Here are some references where I got some of this information and for continued reading :)