COVID-19 has changed our lives forever. While the COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding, many reforms have already started digging their heels in, both in terms of collateral damage and the co-benefits of fighting the virus.

Key Points:

  • Positive and negative indirect effects of COVID-19 on the environment
  • Increased waste and the reduction of recycling are negative side effects of COVID-19

With deaths and suffering being the immediate ugly face of the disaster, here are the impacts of the pandemic that will transform our lives in the long run:
The environment is cleaner since the lockdowns kicked in, and may never get as bad as before –

Nearly everyone witnessed the bluer sky, cleaner air, clearer moon and stars, and louder bird songs, and we saw images of cleaner rivers and lost mountain vistas. Though fears of returning pollution will certainly come true once the constraints ease, some benefits will remain on. A significant number of city travelers on the brink, reluctant to move from home to work, online meetings, and online learning, took the plunge and no turning back.
Time and expense advantages, both travel and infrastructure, would be more economically significant now that they have been tested and the initial mental barrier of these cultures has been crossed through organizations.

The complexity of disasters will be better understood, triggering higher preparedness levels –

While the scientific community has long spoken about complex disasters, pandemics, climate-induced disasters, and mega-disasters, the gravity of these definitions has failed to disrupt both political will and public actions. Maybe COVID-19 made every person on earth sit down and see how fragile our lives and lifestyles are on the one hand, and how volatile and strong natural hazards are on the other.
All other naturally induced disasters this year including floods, droughts, cyclones, and earthquakes will join forces with COVID-19. This will inevitably lead to more thought, research, improved preparedness, rational decision-making, and potential public support for disaster risk management in the coming months and years.

Economic rebalancing and its ill effects –

A tiny virus has kneeled the world’s leading economies. It is expecting a major recession. Different countries are likely to recover at various places, some potential race winners, and some losers. Fragile societies and economies will take longer to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, and will lose on many fronts. For many, debt will rise past manageable rates, and assistance will be hard to come by in a whole world reeling from the pandemic’s secondary effects, lockdowns, and diminishing demand for goods and services. The support that may come can be dangerous and may cause the colonialism of a new age.

Social distancing in the true sense, creating rifts between people –

Although voices are attempting to promote the concept of physical distancing and social unity rather than the widely used word ‘social distancing,’ the wheels of a social divide have already been put in motion.
Slums and low-income settlements are classified as high-risk areas because the disease in these heavily populated colonies can spread rapidly. Unfortunately, these are the very colonies at the bottom of the pyramid supplying goods and services, and they are the unsung heroes of India ‘s thriving informal sector, which has already been under pressure.
In this tragedy, the threat of migrant workers has made headlines. It is a given to ostracise the poor who make the visible affluence of the urban Indian family while remaining invisible and who live in squalor for no fault of theirs. Economically and socially they are already beginning to take the blow.xl 1

The positive indirect results are about reducing concentrations of PM 2.5 and NO2 in China, France, India, Germany, Spain, and Italy. One of the main environmental concerns in developing countries is precisely the high concentrations of these gases. The enhancement of the condition of the beaches and the reduction of environmental noise were also highlighted as positive indirect results. On the other hand, the increase in both domestic and medical waste was listed among the negative indirect effects. A further negative indirect impact of SARS-CoV2 was the ban on recycling waste in countries like the USA and Italy.

It is important to remember that while some GHG emissions have decreased as a result of the pandemic, this decrease may have little effect on the overall concentrations of GHGs that have accumulated in the atmosphere for decades. A long-term structural transition in the economies of the countries will take place to a substantial decline. This result can be accomplished by the approval of the commitments made for the climate. Moreover, the currently reported decrease in GHG emissions in some countries is only temporary. When the pandemic ends, countries are most likely to recover their economies, and GHG emissions will spike once more.

On the other hand, the proper handling of household waste during the COVID-19 emergency may be important. Medical waste, such as infected masks, shoes, medications used or expired, and other products can be easily mixed with household waste. They will, therefore, be treated as hazardous waste and separately disposed of. Besides, specialist municipal operators or waste management operators may collect certain forms of waste (UN, 2020). In the same vein, the UN Environment Plan encouraged governments to view waste management, including medical, household, and other waste, as an immediate and necessary public service to reduce potential side effects on health and the climate.

Lastly, it is concluded that COVID-19 would have both positive and negative indirect environmental impacts, but the latter will be greater. Diminishing concentrations of GHG over a short period is not a safe way to clean up our climate. Also, the virus outbreak brings with it many environmental issues that can last longer and even be more difficult to handle if countries ignore the environmental effects of the epidemic. So stay safe and let’s hope that we get the COVID vaccine as soon as possible and if you see COVID symptoms get yourself tested.

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