Sometimes when you are confused about a phenomenon there may not be a limit to which you can go to find an answer. You look at different angles, including those that might seem absurd. This is the situation with the debacle called COVID-19 currently facing the world.
Scientists believe the pathogen emerged from an animal host, but they are less certain of the particular one. Meanwhile, some people have suggested that worsening climate change probably had a part to play. Could that be true? Continue reading to learn how both phenomena are possibly connected.
Climate Change and Coronavirus
The 2019 novel coronavirus, formally known as SARS-CoV-2, has greatly highlighted how one country is not totally independent of all others. What seems to be happening far away could come closer to home in no time.
It’s interesting to see how world governments have been quick to take drastic measures to fight the pandemic. Meanwhile, their responses to climate change – arguably a bigger threat – leave more to be desired.
The coronavirus pandemic has a relationship with climate change. This may not necessarily be a causative relationship, but more of a correlation. They are both traceable to wholesale exploitation of nature and the environment for profit.
The world is facing a great climate change threat as warming increases. We can trace this mainly to capitalistic tendencies. Manufacturers and countries are producing more and more commodities all in a bid to increase profits and grow their economies.
While industrial production isn’t bad, excessive output and consumption lead to the depletion of natural resources. A high amount of waste, including chemicals, generated harms the environment and constitutes a threat to human health.
The story isn’t much different for the coronavirus and other similar pathogens. Humans are intruding more and more into the natural habitats of other animals in their quest for natural resources. This often exposes them unwittingly to pathogens, such as coronaviruses, that are present in animals.
Scientists believe that the COVID-19 virus came from an unknown wild animal. The first report of it was in a market where wildlife was sold in China. Sale of wild animals is reportedly a $74-billion industry in that country.
Habitat loss from natural resource exploitation is bringing wild animals more in contact with humans. This increases the risk of deadly outbreaks.
Yet, governments are mostly in denial to see the connection between the coronavirus and climate change.
Animal to Human Transmission
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of new transmittable diseases result from human contact with animals. The American government agency puts the estimate at three-quarters of these infections.
The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, which was also first detected in China in 2002-2003, came from an animal. Scientists traced the pathogen back to bats.
The coronavirus that caused the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) also had its origin in animals, possibly bats. Other deadly outbreaks, such as Ebola, also originated from animals whose habitats were encroached into by humans.
Environmentalists and scientists say the current coronavirus pandemic and other outbreaks are only warning shots. According to them, pathogens that are far more deadly are present in wild animals. These more lethal diseases could jump to humans if we continue to disturb other natural habitats.
We have witnessed a surge in outbreaks of contagious diseases in recent years. These, experts say, are usually not unconnected to increasing pressures on the natural world.
Coronavirus and Climate Change Have Similar Victims
Both climate change and the coronavirus pandemic are also similar in terms of the people they affect the most. The poor mostly suffer as a result.
Take for instance; places with one of the highest levels of pollution tend to have more poor people. The rich can afford to live farther away in, perhaps, more expensive but also safer and more health-friendly locations.
Pollution is a major issue in the climate change debate. It constitutes a huge threat to health from exposure.
Poor people are more likely to die from untoward effects of both the coronavirus and climate change. This is because they often lack ample health coverage if they even have any.
The two occurrences are capable of worsening the financial status of people who are already poor. They reduce savings in an attempt to get health care and could result in job losses.
Climate Change Can be More Catastrophic
Although governments and most people don’t seem to realize it, climate change poses markedly greater threats than the coronavirus. It is only easier to lose sight of the dangers.
Change in climate happens gradually and not suddenly, so it’s easy for most of us to miss it. This most likely also explains why many governments care less about what’s happening to the environment.
While we may not be paying enough attention, the changes are happening all the same. Only scientists and people who live in places where the evidence is clear enough will be able to attest to this.
Experts say there are certain levels at which changes in climate can no longer be reversed. This can have more terrible effects on humans than the coronavirus is currently threatening to. Some changes that already seem to be in progress suggest this.
There is evidence that climate change is leading to a more frequent occurrence of extreme weather incidents. It is also believed to be increasing the spread of diseases carried by vectors, such as malaria – including expanding their geographical spread.
Reports show that global warming is causing the permafrost to melt. This occurrence can lead to an increase in the frequency of landslides and erosion. It could also result in more cases of certain diseases.
Climate change might reduce food production due to the depletion of soil fertility. Loss of insects and worsening droughts are among other terrifying outcomes possible with climate change.
Coronavirus Lessons Relevant to Climate Change
The coronavirus pandemic clear shows that what affects one often affects all. If different governments are willing to get and accept this message, dealing with the climate crisis would receive greater attention. There is hardly any country that is entirely immune to what could result from global heating.
It used to seem not workable stopping certain activities, usually economic activities, in order to protect the environment. However, the COVID-19 episode has suddenly brought those seemingly unavoidable activities almost to complete halt.
Several months ago, it appeared it wasn’t possible to do something drastic to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) gas emissions. Lockdowns prompted by the pandemic has suddenly led to a reduction in these emissions, however, with most vehicles off the road.
According to a report by Carbon Brief, the lockdown induced by the virus led to a 25% drop in China’s CO2 emissions as of February. The country is one of the world’s leaders in greenhouse gas emissions.
The pandemic is showing likely gains if only governments can be more decisive about tackling climate change.
Another thing the coronavirus has shown is that many countries, including the U.S., need better health systems. These would be critical to protect not only against disease outbreaks but also against climate change.
More resources need to be made available for the systems to be more helpful and accessible. This is above all crucial for the most vulnerable.
Furthermore, the pandemic highlights the importance of a change in behavior. People need to be more responsible with their actions. They should pay more attention to how their actions could impact the wellbeing of other persons.
With the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear that almost nobody is immune to global catastrophes. Capitalists who might have played a role in the current problem would also be feeling the pinch to an extent.
It is thought that the current outbreak could lead to outcomes that would favor the climate. As a result of it, more people may opt to work from home. This might help cut CO2 emissions to a significant degree.
The “Build Back Better” in Europe represents a good attempt to protect the environment more. Governments there are looking at supporting low-carbon industries in their drive to bounce back from the coronavirus interruption.
In the U.S., the Democrats are also proposing a “Green New Deal” for the adoption of more climate-friendly technology. President Donald Trump has, however, not hidden the fact that he is not an ardent believer of the climate crisis.
Robust health systems and healthy environments can help to protect against the harmful effects of both climate change and disease outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 25% of the health burden worldwide can be prevented by dealing with social and environmental risk factors, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
*Disclaimer: Gilmore Health Does not Endorse The views in this Article!
How climate change and the coronavirus are linked | World Economic Forum (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/climate-change-coronavirus-linked/)
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Coronavirus: ‘Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief | World news | The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-nature-is-sending-us-a-message-says-un-environment-chief)
Climate change: Could the coronavirus crisis spur a green recovery? – BBC News (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52488134)
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