Coronavirus and the environment: The best remedy against pandemics is caring for nature
By Lucila Castro, Director and Natura Argentina Team
It is clear that the pandemic had a devastating effect on the entire world. The number of deaths and the economic and social crisis left by the arrival of the COVID-19 make it one of the most tragic events that humanity has suffered in recent decades at the global level.
However, this health disaster allows for other readings. The negative impacts on the environment have, in some cases, decreased throughout the year and across the planet. According to a report by the EEA (European Environment Association), there are some important points to note: the pandemic highlighted the interrelationships between our natural and social systems, and that the loss of biodiversity and intensive food systems increase the likelihood of zoonotic diseases closures caused by confinements during the pandemic may have some direct and short-term positive impacts on our environment, especially on air quality, although these are likely to be temporary; on the other hand, the COVID is not affecting all socio-economic groups equally, the less advantaged people are more likely to live in poor quality and overcrowded housing, which jeopardizes compliance with social distancing recommendations and increases the risk of transmission of the virus.
If we talk particularly about air quality, daily carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were reduced by 17% worldwide in the first half of 2020. NASA, for its part, showed surprising satellite images that reflect a marked and striking decrease in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions – whose main source is cars – compared to the pre-containment era.
The question that now arises is whether the fight against climate change and society’s commitment to a healthy environment will continue once this situation is overcome. In short: Has this pandemic taught us anything? We’ve spent several months in confinement, saturated with routine and… What are we looking for now? Enjoy open spaces, fresh air, clean environments, avoid crowds, disconnect, breathe fresh air and forget about problems for a while. ¿ And where do we find all that? In nature.
Caring for – or better yet, not hurting – nature is an investment. This is the best decision to protect ourselves from this virus and prevent future diseases of this kind. We can take this situation as an opportunity to reflect on and understand not only the complexity of the environment and our inseparable link to it but also how vulnerable we are to the actions of degradation that we ourselves carry out.
We must maintain a healthy and respectful relationship with the natural environment. Taking care of the planet means taking care of ourselves.