The pandemic has brought our busy lives to a grinding halt, and with that, has opened our eyes to the damage that human beings have been doing to our planet. The environmental lessons that we have learned in the past year have helped to start conversations within the government, large businesses and even in ordinary homes about what can be done to save the world that we live in. So, what exactly has the pandemic taught us about the importance of being eco-friendly? Here are 7 environmental lessons that we can learn from our circumstances.
1.We can use greener modes of transportation
It is very normal for families to use cars or other vehicles every single day, but cars play a huge role in the declining quality of our atmosphere as they release harmful emissions into the air. During the first lockdown, 1.3 million Brits bought a bike in an attempt to avoid using public transport – and therefore risking contact with other people – and to get more exercise. This figure shows that it is possible to lower the emissions released by cars each day and to take greener modes of transportation.
2. Our actions can affect the entire world
If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that one person’s actions can spread across the entire globe! Even though the coronavirus and global warming are two unique crises, they both have the potential to go global, and this pandemic has shown the devastation that can arise if that happens. For too long, countries have focused solely on themselves and have failed to come together and create a worldwide solution for the climate crisis. If just one country fails to do their part towards global warming, it could have a catastrophic effect on the whole world.
3. We must stop deforestation
Scientists have suggested that the coronavirus stemmed from a disease in bats and was spread to human beings via consumption. Every year, thousands of wild animals are sold for meat in open-air markets within busy cities, creating an ideal environment for a virus to spread. These animals are mainly sold due to deforestation. We need to learn that habitats should remain untouched so that the natural balance of life can continue, and to stop the spread of even more harmful diseases from animals that are not meant to be in our societies.
4. It might be safer to go plant-based
It is widely accepted that this pandemic was caused by the consumption of an animal clearly not meant for human beings! And COVID-19 is not the first time that human beings have been threatened by our eating habits; back in 2009, the swine flu pandemic spread to the UK from Mexico and was found to have originated in pigs. Going plant-based obviously isn’t for everyone, but it’s always something to consider, especially if you’re worried about your impact on the environment. Plant-based diets are also a good idea if you’re looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
5.We need to clean up our air
During the first few months of the pandemic, the world was shocked as we saw the fogs lift from China and the rivers in Venice become clear. Much of the fog that resides in the air that we breathe is caused by harmful emissions that are released from fossil fuels. We use these fossil fuels to make energy, but we can easily replace these harmful fuels with eco-friendly alternatives including solar panels and wind turbines. These solutions can still provide enough energy to keep our industries running but use natural resources to source their power. This means that they release far fewer emissions into the air which will help to keep it cleaner.
6. We must act quickly
Those countries who acted sooner to lockdown and put restrictions in place are now closer to being rid of the pandemic. A similar pattern could emerge with global warming; if we don’t act quickly, the situation will only get worse! We should take this as a warning to start improving the quality of our planet now. The sooner we act, the sooner we can tackle the climate crisis.
7. Health before economy
The reason why some countries were late to put themselves into lockdown and enforce restrictions was that they did not want to damage their economy. However, those countries are now the ones being held in the grips of this virus and are having to take extreme measures to handle the situation that has been put onto them. Whereas, the countries that decided to prioritise the public over the economy and initiated lockdown early on are now slowly getting back to normal. If we can take anything away from this, it is that we need to think more long-term and save our planet and protect our habitats before it is too late.
- Cycling Weekly, ‘3 million Brits bought a bike during lockdown’, https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/latest-news/1-3-million-brits-bought-a-bike-during-lockdown-458354
- UNICEF, ‘Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for tackling the climate crisis’, https://www.unicef.org/stories/lessons-covid-19-pandemic-tackling-climate-crisis
- Forbes, ‘Five Environmental Lessons Coronavirus Could Teach Humanity, If Humanity Would Listen’, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2020/07/26/five-environmental-lessons-coronavirus-could-teach-humanity-if-humanity-would-listen/?sh=7a0df5659da5