The coronavirus epidemic that started from Wuhan, China, quickly spread to the whole of the world, resulting in millions of deaths, and causing many people to lose their jobs. This is probably the worst epidemic the modern world has ever seen. It affected the lives of 7 billion people except for Jeff Bezos, who nearly doubled his net worth during this pandemic. Now, the world has started to recover slowly from the effects of Covid-19, and everything is going back to normal. What people have not realized from these past few months of suffering is that a global concern such as environmental deterioration can pose a bigger threat to us than Covid-19. An environmental pandemic can deprive us of the only inhabitable planet we have, thus endangering the existence of humanity.
Effects of Corona Virus on Environment
Coronavirus had us locked in our houses, thus limiting our movement, use of fuels, and a decrease in pollutants. The consequences were a cleaner environment, fresher air, reduced temperatures, decreased pollution, etc. People witnessed the return of wildlife to their habitats such as dolphins returning to Venice and many rare species of birds returning to the cities as Earth started to recover itself from the injuries humans have caused to her.
This impact was caused by a mere 8% reduction in the carbon footprints emitted annually. Despite all these lockdowns, we are still releasing the remaining 92% of the carbon, which is disastrous to our environment. With the lockdown coming to an end, there is no chance of these emissions going down. If anything, what is going to happen is an immense increase in carbon emissions unless we do something about it.
What is Environmental Degradation?
You might have heard the term environmental degradation from scientists, environmentalists, politicians, people who think the earth is flat or mars can become our next habitat, and Elon Musk.
The term refers to the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources, population overgrowth, loss of biodiversity, pollution, and extinction of wildlife.
Climate change, extinction of wildlife species, melting of glaciers, increased temperature, and polluted resources such as water, air, land are the outcomes of environmental deterioration. We need to keep this in mind that there is only one Earth and mars cannot be inhabited.
Effects of Environmental Degradation
Environmental degradation is a way bigger problem than coronavirus. If you believe coronavirus is the worst thing that you could have ever experienced, except for heartbreak, then you are wrong. The effects of environmental deterioration can be worse than Covid-19 or a heartbreak since they are short term and have been dealt with quickly, however, the environmental problem has unfolded itself over time. Some people still think that it is just a myth, and nothing like environmental deterioration is happening, however, the facts have opened the eyes of many such people.
The most noticeable impacts which Environmental degradation has on our lives are:
Biodiversity preserves the balance in the ecosystem, ensuring the recovery of nutrients, water sources, and plant life. Human activities have led to extensive loss of biodiversity, urging scientists to call it the sixth wave of mass extinction on Earth. So far, more than a million species of plants and animals are facing extinction. If we do not control activities such as deforestation, emission of carbon in the air, and population overgrowth, we will pave a way to our destruction.
Depletion of Resources
The resources which are available to mankind are depleting at a faster rate than ever. The underground water level has dropped to alarming depths, and the air is getting more and more polluted and unfit to breathe in. We feel so irritated while wearing a face mask during the current pandemic, and if we do nothing about the increasing pollution, we will have to wear gas masks to live.
Impact on Human Health
Many people on earth, especially those living in desert regions, have no access to freshwater. Even those living in mountains are facing a shortage of water. The polluted air is becoming hazardous to breathe in, and the noise pollution is causing mental health issues. If not taken seriously, environmental degradation will claim more lives than Covid-19.
Depletion of Ozone Layer
Ozone Layer is getting thin day by day at a steady pace, which is a serious problem leading to global warming, fires, melting of glaciers, and the most dangerous being the increase in carcinogenic mutations caused by the Sun’s UV radiations.
The economic impact of environmental degradation can be more acute than the great economic depression of the previous century. The cost which the countries will have to bear to counter the harmful effects of environmental issues will have the potential to cripple the economy of developed nations, let alone the developing and underdeveloped countries.
Covid-19 VS Environmental Degradation
We love to compare this with that so likely let’s compare the effects of novel coronavirus with the effects an environmental pandemic will have on our lives.
|Covid-19||Environmental Degradation by 2030||Environmental Degradation by 2060||Environmental Degradation by 2100|
|Mortality Rate||14 per 100,000||7 per 100,000||14 per 100,000||73 per 100,000|
|Effect on GDP||0.7 – 1%||1%||5%||11%|
The above table shows how grave and bigger the impact of environmental degradation will be on our lives and our future generations if not controlled. (Based on the data from Rhodium Group and International Energy Agency)
The solution to this alarming problem lies in Environmental Conservation. We cannot reduce our carbon emissions to zero so quickly to make a huge impact. We can reduce the emission by decreasing the consumption of fuels by traveling less or by conducting online meetings, webinars instead of seminars, etc. We can never end it as most of our industries rely on fossil fuel for energy generation.
So, shall we reduce the usage of electricity? Well, it could work a little, but we should be using energy more than ever to continue progressing through the future.
The need for the hour is to conserve the environment, and the way to do it is not by limiting the usage, but to use Renewable Energy instead of nonrenewable resources, which are the biggest cause of environmental deterioration.
Part Solar Energy Can play
Wind, Hydro, and solar are the principal renewable energy sources, however, we are focusing on solar energy for three main reasons:
- Sun has no plan of stopping to release its immense energy
- 1% percent of earth surface covered with solar panel, can create enough electricity for all of us
- Most people can afford to go solar as it does not require expensive constructions like dams or installation of large turbines
To deal with coronavirus, we need new medications, vaccines, and knowledge of biology similarly, we need innovation, new technology, new tools, and research in the renewable energy sector to do something about environmental degradation.
Most people can afford a home solar panel system of 5 KW, which can reduce around 5 tons of carbon footprints annually. Does not seem like a lot? Well, every revolution starts with a small step. Just imagine if 1 million houses in the world are using these 5 KW systems, then the annual carbon footprint reduction will reach 5 million tons, which is a huge number.
People need to understand the need of shifting to renewable energy otherwise, we will be in great trouble. Renewable energy is not only vital to conserve the environment, it can provide many monetary benefits to the system owners as well. These small steps of community effort can reap many advantages to people all over the world.
Governments need to stop exhausting resources on burning fossil fuel, which is a slow poison to Earth and start investing in the renewable energy sector. These solar panel systems have a life expectancy of 30 years, usually which means that for the next 30 years we can reduce the repercussions of environmental degradation to a great extent. These require maximum efforts and patience as currently; we are dealing with a pandemic already. The thing we need to keep in our minds is that we somehow faced Covid-19, however, if environmental degradation takes the shape of a pandemic, we won’t be able to deal with it so swiftly, and many more lives will be at stake as compared to Coronavirus.
The conclusion is pretty obvious, the earth is degrading and like many other species, we are also losing the only habitat we have because of our own mistakes. Aliens do not want to invade earth because we have already set it to destruction. For those who believe that we can live on Mars, first of all, it is not proven yet, and secondly, it is much easier to protect the planet we have than to move to another planet.
We can save Earth by changing the ways we treat it. A small effort by 7 billion people will lead to a huge impact, and all everybody needs to do is conserve energy, say no to plastic, deforestation, and switch to renewable energy. If we don’t change ourselves, the time is not far when we will be dealing with another epidemic bigger and more dangerous than Covid-19. This is a lesson we should learn from our experiences of the global epidemic we are facing. Let’s end this with a quote that sums up the whole discussion in a few lines,
“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security, and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”
Ban Ki Mon
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