Why COVID-19 probably won’t save the environment, but could actually make it worse
The thing I find saddest and most difficult about COVID-19 is that it is going to affect the poorest and the most vulnerable people on this planet. It’s not going to choose to knock off the greedy big wigs on Wall Street, or the billionaire oil companies.
With factories shutting and pollution levels dropping it might seem like there could be a silver lining to this tragic pandemic. However, COVID-19 is an awfully selective virus effecting the weakest and is actually going to make tackling the worlds biggest problems of poverty and climate change that much harder, not easier.
A refugee camp in Greece has just confirmed their first cases of COVID-19, people there live in close quarters with share toilets. People who live in these camps and others in poverty face major issues daily. On top of their chronic stress, which weakens the immune response, they have limited or no access to medical care, many have deficiencies and existing diseases which make it even more difficult to tackle any additional infection.
Poverty & Environmental Issues
One of the most efficient ways we can address our global environmental issues is to elevate people from poverty, people who fear the future and live one day do not worry about burning plastic or using coal. This poverty doesn’t have to be limited to refugee camps but also include those in the UK or America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 15% of Americans live in poverty. That’s 46.2 million people!
Though it seems counterintuitive, we only have the capacity to grow greener and cleaner if we develop economically and make the right political decisions. We need to be in a position where we are able to imagine a tomorrow before we can start trying to protect it.
Worryingly COVID-19 has the capacity to leave thousands of people, if not millions, without jobs increasing global poverty. As borders close and we all stay home many remote regions will struggle with the lack of opportunities that tourism and trade usually bring, moreover international aid and support is going to become even more difficult.
As a consequence of this pandemic environmental issues and sustainable development goals are going to take a massive back seat. And as poverty increases our chances of environmental sustainability decrease. It might look wonderful right now while we living in our isolation bubbles and take an ‘economic break’. Clean air, animals wandering around, however, these are short term gains with unknown long term effects.
In the long run, COVID-19 could have unprecedented effects not just economically but also on our long term efforts to achieve environmental sustainability.
Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts!