Economies grinding to an abrupt halt. The masses purchasing a maddening amount of toilet paper and non-perishable foods. The bewildering number of people sharing fake news on social media. Anxiety, panic and fear crawling around your mind like a swarm of ants, gnawing at your mental state for your undivided attention. Bars, restaurants, cinemas, schools, everywhere you could possibly go to socialize (outside of your phone) are closed for weeks, if not months. The mental health of thousands (dare I say it, millions) of people around the globe declining at an even faster rate than before, some of which are on the brink of falling into pit of depression. These are the social, economic and mental problems that have gripped the world in the time span of a couple of weeks. And at the epicentre of it all, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Related Coronavirus, or as everyone simply calls it, the coronavirus.
All of this shows how frighteningly fragile we humans are. Everything that was considered the norm has been turned on its head within just a few weeks. It was as if the chaotic nature of the universe has manifested itself into a hand that has tightened its grip on this planet. Uncertainty has ravaged the world’s population like a plague, at least until staying at home in quarantine becomes the new norm.
But despite all this, nature has been healing while humankind has been at the mercy of this virus and all the ill-effects it brings with it. Dolphins and fish gliding through the crystal-clear water of Venice, water that just a couple weeks ago was murky and polluted.
A radiant blue sky has recently replaced the grey, contaminated one over Wuhan, China. The famed Himalayan mountain range has been seen for the first time in decades due to the drop in pollution in the Indian state of Punjab. We are seeing similar decreases of pollution in our own country, where nitrogen dioxide levels have decreased significantly in the past month, along with various other hazardous gases and particulate matter that are detrimental for our health. These observations are undoubtedly linked to (most of) the population staying indoors due to governments around the world advising people to practice social distancing (or what I call it, physical distancing) in order to slow down the spread of this virus. People are now encouraged to work from home, while students are continuing their studies via online lectures. Because of this, the headache-inducing morning traffic has been totally obliterated, hence leading to the sudden drop of greenhouse gases and particulate matter mentioned previously. As a matter of fact, it was calculated that due to the decrease of pollution that occurred in the past 2 months in Wuhan, 4,000 children and 73,000 adults over the age of 70 would have been saved.
So how is it that the same people that are complacent to climate change and the disastrous consequences induced by it suddenly shifted gear and dogmatically follow medical professional’s advice to the letter? Why can’t they do the same for the scientists and environmentalists that have been doing the same thing for decades now? My theory is quite simple – the global warming doesn’t affect them immediately. If they could see the trees falling in front of their own eyes and the stupendous amounts of gases being emitted every day, they would surely change their reasoning, or at the very least question it. This is the pitfall that I have just recently noticed when scientists deliver their messages to the world. You don’t see the same type of attention being given to global warming (and the horrifying results that scientists have extracted from the data) that the coronavirus epidemic is currently getting. Another reason climate change isn’t getting this attention is because of the companies who own news outlets; hence information is biased, and the truth is hardly ever found in the mess of fake news and hidden agendas.
While some people might say “this proves that we don’t really need to take care of our environment, it’ll just heal within a couple of years!”, I tend to see these past few weeks as a grim reminder. A reminder that yes, Earth can indeed heal itself from the continuous rape that humans have been doing for hundreds of years, but it does and will not need us to do so. Earth will be here long after we are gone. We must not preserve this world for the sake of it looking pretty, or for some good PR (which is what most companies are doing, despite them claiming it’s for the benefit of future generations). We must preserve it to preserve the human race.
Links, resources and additional information:
- This is how much the coronavirus will cost the world’s economy, according to the UN. Link: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/coronavirus-covid-19-cost-economy-2020-un-trade-economics-pandemic?fbclid=IwAR1Pzd-cJyz1X7n1Q0vWiDS2_2ytzOPGlNwmppqaJeopbnOUS-_6MQoKx8Q
- Mental health experts offer counsel on staying calm during coronavirus pandemic. Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/mental-health-experts-offer-counsel-on-staying-calm-during-coronavirus-pandemic/2020/03/17/a1a22af6-6701-11ea-b313-df458622c2cc_story.html
- It’s OK to Grieve the ‘Small’ Things You’ve Lost During the COVID-19 Outbreak. Link: https://themighty.com/2020/03/sad-about-first-world-problems-covid-19/?utm_source=Mighty_MH_Page&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_campaign=Link_Contributor&fbclid=IwAR3zkx8SuhKvA2gMqOXBu8mJP-4Kc9_t68VOZssTMAPWDNLpXfJLp44HGqs
- People in India can see the Himalayas for the first time in “decades” as the lockdown eases air pollution. Link: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/himalayas-visible-lockdown-india-scli-intl/index.html
- Air pollution in Malta falls by up to 70 per cent in just one month. Link:
- Air pollution in Malta (Real time). Link: https://aqicn.org/city/malta/
- Coronavirus has saved 1,000s of lives in China due to decreasing pollution levels, claim experts. Link: https://metro.co.uk/2020/03/18/coronavirus-saved-1000s-lives-since-outbreak-due-decreasing-pollution-levels-claim-scientists-12417294/
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus as an Agent of Emerging and Reemerging Infection. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2176051/?fbclid=IwAR0UD2vyiIIonqDHUM_OPh-vMWE338thSuzVPT3WXNYyk8lj51lK0-k0Px0
Written by: Matthew Cassar
This article has been listed as the winner for the #YREstayshome Competition – Special Category.