Evidence suggests that Covid-19 and climate change go hand in hand, but all hope is not lost and with some effort we can come out victorious
Flocks of birds swishing by verandahs, a crisp, cool air, and a serene silence all around; in the early days of the shutdown, residents of Dhaka experienced things that they probably would not again.
The air quality in Dhaka drastically improved and summer afternoons did not feel as sweltering as other years.
Not just in Bangladesh, Covid-19 lockdowns led to drops in pollution levels across the world.
In the US, gasoline sales fell sharply because less people were driving but diesel supplies remained the same since commercial vehicles such as trucks, were still being used.
Despite the lockdown, electricity use in the country fell only slightly because residents were indoors all the time and the energy consumption had just shifted from offices to homes. Plastic disposal also rose because of an increased consumption of plastic bottles and containers.
Climate change is a profound issue that the entire world needs to try and fight back, but our collective ignorance and short-sightedness has already caused irreparable damage and brought forth outcomes, such as the coronavirus pandemic.
As good as the new, clean environment was for all of us, it was not meant to last. Industries and power plants are re-opening and we are slowly going to back to sacrificing nature to achieve economic growth.
According to media sources, cities in China are gradually going back to pre-Covid levels of air pollution and Europe is sure to follow.
Experts claim that climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic are deeply inter-connected. If we cannot protect our environment, such extreme outbreaks will strike again and more severely.
In an article published by The Guardian, environmental journalist and activist Emily Atkin expressed her frustration at how those who deny climate change, do not necessarily deny the science of coronavirus, when in fact these two are clearly linked.
She was quoted saying, "The destruction of biodiversity makes pandemics more likely. And just like with the impact of global heating, the coronavirus is hitting black, brown and poor people the worst."
She also said, "The two things (climate change and Covid-19) are so connected, that it is stupid to say they are not."
If not for the sake of science and nature, climate change is something all of us should work on reversing because this pandemic has shown that the whole world can fall prey to even a microscopic virus and its effect on the economy will last for years.
Not only has it halted livelihoods and increased unemployment, it has also slowed down or put an end to many climate researches.
Engaging in fieldwork and gathering secondary data has become difficult. So unless we want to continue suffering, we might as well act fast.
There is no way countries can deny their responsibility in harming the environment which may have triggered deadly, disease outbreaks.
Looking around us should give us sufficient evidence of how climate change is affecting us.
Weather extremities, new and multifaceted diseases such Sars, Avian influenza and H1N1 flu, soaring respiratory disorders and cancer – all of these are consequences of centuries of neglecting the environment.
Evidence points toward Covid-19 coming from a zoonotic source, meaning it may have spread from animals to human beings. Our excessive exploitation of animals is a direct cause.
Only we can be held accountable for our persistent cruelty towards environment and exploitation of natural resources. Those perfectly smoked beef steaks probably came from burning down the Amazon rainforest for cattle farming. Those dazzling hill-side resorts probably destroyed the habitats of hundreds of species.
Every year in Dhaka, the air becomes particularly unbreathable during winter. With every puff that we inhale, thick dust and smoke ravage our lungs. Carbon emissions from factories, brick kilns and construction works has made our air toxic.
The irony is that Covid-19 patients are suffering from extreme breathing difficulties and doctors are suggesting that an intact pair of lungs could help us survive this virus.
Not many of us can firmly state that our lungs, brains, kidneys and hearts have not already been damaged by pollution. The virus has just added to our already existing woes.
In the interview, Emily Ratkin suggested that all of us could contribute to saving the environment, in our own ways.
Meat-eaters do not have to abruptly switch to soy and many of us can still stick to our current food habits.
We can start slow by using alternative energy sources, giving up smoking cigarettes or planting more trees. Each of us has a role to play in salvaging nature and preventing future pandemics.
If we have enjoyed waking up to chirping of birds, surely we would not like it to go back to the honking of horns and the drilling of machines.