How did the first Covid 19 lockdown impact us?
The first Covid 19 lockdown took us all by surprise when it drove society as we once knew it to a complete standstill. Many of us across the world could no longer go and meet each other or step foot into the homes of our loved ones out of fear of catching coronavirus. We were forced to learn to live indoors and watch the doctors and nurses on our tv screens working tirelessly in hospitals to look after all those who had fallen sick to the virus. The pandemic has had a substantial effect on the state of our environment, impacting the planet. The impact was of course negative, and surprisingly some of it was actually positive!
The Positive Effects on the Environment
The World Health Organization estimated that outdoor air pollution kills 7 million each year worldwide and more than 80% of the urban population is exposed to unhealthy air. During the few months, people were living indoors in the lockdown in 2020, the air quality greatly improved, especially in hard-hit areas like Wuhan ( Where Coronavirus supposedly originated). Other places that saw substantial improvement were Northern Italy and a number of metropolitan areas throughout the USA.
In China, emissions of harmful gases and other pollutants dropped 25% at the start of the year 2020, and the quality of air improved up to 11.4% with respect to the start of 2019 in 337 cities across China. The WHO estimated that this change saved 50,000 lives in China in 2020. This highlights a shocking fact that millions of people die every year from polluted air, smog, and soot — three things that are considered slow killers.
The Negative Impacts
The astronomical demand for personal protective equipment ( face masks and gloves ) during 2020 resulted in a huge amount of hospital waste. the haphazard disposal of the safety equipment creates clogging in water and further irritates the climate change cycle. Increased reliance on single-use plastics and low oil prices resulting from lockdowns have had negative consequences too. Evidence points to Covid 19 being a zoonotic disease which means it’s a virus that jumped from animals to humans. The emergence of such zoonotic pathogens is linked to environmental degradation and related human interaction with animals in the food system.
60% of all human diseases are zoonotic and 3/4 of emerging diseases are of animal origin. Covid 19 is a stark warning to us all to change the path we are on. Zoonotic diseases can be responsible for huge global mortality rates, Hiv1 and Hiv2 which are human immunodeficiency diseases that emerged from wild primate populations, and bird flu originated from domestic animals and birds.
To learn about other ways that the environment is negatively impacted, visit our article on Why is Climate Change damaging to human health.