Can covid-19 save us from climate change?
The universal lockdown has led to global economic slowdown, but it also led to reduced carbon dioxide emission. As factories and businesses closed down, flights got cancelled and less cars are seen on the road, we are seeing cleaner air for a few months. However, this temporary lighter human footprint will do little to address the issue of global and long-term climate change.
Watching the global pandemic unfold before us, we are seeing the healing effects of strict confinement in the blue skies. But some say the pandemic is not a win for climate change, coronavirus waste might be leading to a new form of pollution.
No doubt single-use masks, latex gloves and other protective gear are helping us to fight against covid-19. They have become necessity, not limited to health care workers who have to do their job safely. But the waste they left behind could lead to exacerbate marine pollution. A single face mask could take up hundreds of years to break down into micro-plastic, and these micro-plastic are being found in fishes destined for our consumption.
Other than piles of medical waste outside hospitals, we are also seeing increasing food waste. Mountains of food are going to waste as restaurants, cafes and canteens are forced to shut down. Moreover, the increasing demand in delivery led to a jump in more plastic wastes including plastic bag, meal box, and disposable utensils.
It is true that covid-19 offers a rare sight of blue skies and a temporary drop in carbon dioxide emissions. But from a climate standpoint, what really matters is the long term environmental sustainability and resilience. We should stop point fingers at factories and businesses, it is up to every one of us to map out the recovery to save our planet.