As the world tries to stop the spread of COVID-19, there is no doubt, we are all going through difficult times. Our hearts go out to those who have lost family and friends. Even those of us who haven’t been touched by the virus are experiencing loneliness, financial uncertainty and anxiety. As we look forward, to a post pandemic world, what lessons can be learned from these last few weeks and months?
Falling pollution levels could save lives
Air pollution levels in China dropped by 25% during lockdown. According to early research from Hong Kong University if sustained, this could save up to 36,000 lives every month.
According to research from the UK, a reduction in vehicle emissions across Europe, in April alone, has saved 11,000 lives, prevented 6,000 children developing asthma and protected 600 babies being born early. Most fatalities would have been caused by heart failure and to a lesser extent bronchitis, emphysema, strokes and cancer.
This theory is explored further by environmental resource economist Marshall Burke. He believes the reduction in global pollution could save more lives than the death toll of the virus. According to his calculations, two months of reduced pollution in China has saved the lives of 4,000 children under the age of five and 73,000 adults over the age of 70. If these calculations hold up, imagine how many lives could be saved if pollution levels continue to fall.
New routines could stick
Right across the world, extreme measures have been enforced, to stop the spread of COVID-19. And as we learn to live with our new routines, we ask ourselves ‘Is frequent flying really a necessity? ‘Do we really need to take the car to work?’ In fact, do we really need to travel to work every day?’ Could we travel less post pandemic? Use our cars more sparingly?
Over the last few weeks, we have been forced to lead a more simple, quieter life. Our true priorities have been highlighted. Our health and the health of our loved ones really is the only thing that matters. Will we remember this, when restrictions are lifted, and we are free to leave our homes?
COVID-19 has rocked the world. But it is proof that if we really want change, we can make it happen and fast.