COVID-19, which originated from Wuhan, China, is rapidly infecting the world. According to the website of the Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention there are a total of 2,502,606 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 176,026 deaths as of 9 a.m. on April 22. Countries such as the Philippines, Ghana, India, and New Zealand are trying to lock down to minimize human contact. Korea is also encouraging people to practice social distancing and to refrain from going out unless it is necessary.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, world economic activities have been suspended. Factories have stopped operating, and transportation such as airplanes and cars have become less accessible. However, this has had a positive impact on the Earth. Looking at NASA's satellite data, the NO2 concentration in China's industrial areas was 10 to 30 percent lower than usual. The Himalayan Mountains in northern India, which are usually concealed by smog, have made their first clear appearance in 30 years. Europe's atmosphere has also improved. The European Space Agency’s measurements showed that the concentration of in European industrial complexes was reduced. A photo was posted on SNS saying that the Venice Canal was cleared after the COVID-19 lockdown. According to the city of Venice, impurities on the waterway floors do not rise above the water due to the suspension of the gondola operation, and there is no change in water quality. Instead, the air quality is said to have improved due to a decrease in traffic. A new life has also been born on a cleaner Earth. As the always crowded Indian coast of Lushilkulya became quiet due to COVID-19, an olive ridley turtle nestled and laid eggs. Even on the deserted coast of Paulista, Brazil, an internationally endangered hawksbill sea turtle laid eggs and a baby sea turtle hatched.
Human economic activity has almost stopped with COVID-19, but ironically the Earth’s ecosystems are more active. People can see how humans have destroyed the environment by looking at plants and animals that have been thriving in just a few weeks because of a better environment. The environment destroyed by humans not only threatens the Earth, but also human survival in the end. According to a discussion in issue no.1699 of the National Assembly Research Agency, wild animals that have lost their habitat due to climate change and the destruction of ecosystems are more likely to give humans infectious diseases by moving to inhabited areas or pastures. The spread of COVID-19 is under investigation, but SARS or MERS, a pandemic which occurred before COVID-19, could have been passed to humans from wild animals as an intermediate host. Failure to protect the environment could threaten human life with another novel virus like COVID-19.
The environmental healing caused by COVID-19 is too brief to help the Earth in the long run. If COVID-19 ends, humans will continue to use a lot of fossil fuels which release greenhouse gases and destroy the environment in order to boost the slowing economy. The state should systematically link climate change, biodiversity, and environmental health policies to protect humanity and the Earth.
Individuals should make efforts and practice small tasks that they can do in their daily lives to protect the environment. People can change their lifestyle in small ways, such as walking a short distance, using eco-friendly transportation, and avoiding double-packaged products. Everyone should respect the Earth and strive to live in harmony with the creatures that live on Earth.
▲ Left picture: The National War Memorial in New Delhi, India, covered by smog. Right picture: The National War Memorial is clearly visible with a clean atmosphere after the COVID-19 shutdown. (Image License: Reuters News Agency)
By Seo Hyobin, cub-reporter email@example.com
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