IMPACTS OF CORONAVIRUS ON THE ENVIRONMENT
A deadly disease broke out in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the disease was identified as Coronavirus (Covid-19), it is currently a pandemic and it has spread to all countries worldwide. Since the emergence of this virus, there has been a need to stay at home, observe the social or physical distance of about 2meters from others and maintain good hygiene practices at all time. The World Health Organization (WHO 2020) indicates that the virus has spread, infecting over 2 million people, and resulted in over 130,000 deaths globally. Since the emergence of the virus, unemployment has increased, businesses and schools have shut down, all these have had a profound impact on the environment either directly or indirectly. There is no doubt that since the global lockdown started; the environment itself has started healing again. It is important to note the impacts the pandemic is having on the environment because Environmental management and sustainability is everyone’s concern as the earth is our home and our actions can have long-term consequences for generations unborn. Hence, it is imperative to not just note but to understand the impacts of the pandemic on the environment. In a short time, the world has changed, travel restrictions have been imposed in several counties (Saadat et al.,2020), bars, clubs, and theatres have been shut down to curtail the virus and decrease the death rate. All these however led to unexpected positive impacts on the environment, many of which include:
A decrease in the quantity of air pollution
In 2016, WHO noted that 91% of the world population lack access to clean air where they live and this is responsible for almost 8% of the total deaths in Africa, Asia, and some parts of Europe. Due to the regulations put in place by the government of several nations to curtail the spread of the coronavirus the air quality has improved. There has been a sudden drop in carbon emission since the closure of businesses, industries including transportation companies and there have been a sharp reduction in the concentrations of Particulate matter, Nitrogen Oxide, carbon dioxide and Ozone formation.
Beaches are particularly important to the environment and a nation’s economy because it encourages tourism and generates revenue for most countries around the world. However, visitors and tourists can no longer visit beaches to relax, this has reduced the number of wastes being dumped along the shores, this is a positive impact since waste is injurious to aquatic life.
Asides the positive impacts, there is also the negative impacts of this pandemic on the environment.
Waste workers have been unable to collect wastes from homes and dumpsites due to the stay at home order. Hamwey (2020) noted that the level of methane emissions is expected to rise due to the decay of these wastes. There has also been the mass production of face masks globally due to its compulsory use and this has added to the volume of wastes generated. In Nigeria, used masks are littered in open dumps and carelessly dropped in street corners as a result of poor hygiene practices by people.
Coronavirus has a profound impact on countries whose major source of revenue is eco-tourism. In South Africa and Kenya, the pandemic has also led to the unemployment of some workers in the tourism sector.
Poaching of endangered species has been on the rise as many animals have been reportedly killed. Six animals were killed in March, this has led to the evacuation of Black Rhinos in Okavango, Botswana. Additionally, the absence of environmental protection workers at parks and marine conservation centres has resulted in illegal deforestation and fishing.
In conclusion, understanding the impacts the coronavirus pandemic has on the environment should awaken individuals, the government, and corporate organizations on the need to minimize activities that damage the environment. Also, the government should encourage environmental sustainability education to the grassroots level. The positive changes that have occurred in the environment because of the pandemic should be maintained by the government long after the pandemic is over because things are not likely to remain the same again.
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