As per World Health Organization:
“Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered corona virus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is - be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow). At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments.”
With the dead from Covid -19 being buried in their thousands, it is no time to lecture on how we should live. But there will be an opportunity soon enough to act on the lessons learned from this crisis. As Carl Sagan wrote: ‘The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. ... Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.’ And right now, that stand is against a virus of our own making, a crisis that has stopped the human world turning on its own axis.
However, this could be a turning point on many levels: The Pandemic has shut down industrial activity and airline flights, minimized car exhaust fumes ad slashed air pollution in our cities. It is this pollution which has created a scourge of respiratory illnesses over time and which has now made millions more susceptible to the worst effects of the corona virus. But suddenly, the air we breath is cleaner than it has been in decades. Animals have begun reclaiming the empty streets and - without us humans in the way - nature is thriving. An invisible virus has made our individual actions more visible than ever - and revealed our true power to face societal crises beyond COVID-19.
The pandemic is bringing home new lessons. Economic globalization has not brought universal prosperity but ecological devastation, social disruption and inequality. As people around the world work together to flatten the curve of COVID-19, the outsize roles we play in Earth’s Natural system have become clear as never before.
Billions of humans can now see how they are interconnected, working together to slow the spread of a lethal virus through their individual actions. Within this experience, if we are successful, lies the potential lesson that we need not just restrict our efforts towards Covid-19, but to address other pressing societal challenges like climate change.
As soon as the Pandemic is over, economies will need to rebuild. But the outbreak has shown that the governments can take radical and urgent action to tackle a present danger. The problem is, the dangers presented by the climate crisis seem too distant to matter to most. But if we think covid-19 is bad, the effects of the climate emergency will be far worse down the line.
When the factories come back to life and airplanes start flying again, emissions will inevitably (and regrettably) pick back up. But within our hands, we will have the choice to learn from COVID-19 to live better in our own ecosystems, and within the greater natural system of Earth. Why wait? We can start now by being mindful of the energy sources we depend upon and the resources we use. Now is the time to strengthen our social fabric. Companies must lobby to increase social protections for the less privileged — a living wage, health care and other forms of insurance.
Governments around the world are racing to implement economic stimulus and support packages to keep individuals, businesses, and economies afloat. While supporting their urgent implementation, we must ensure that these measures pave the way to a more sustainable economy and do not lock us further into a high-carbon future. Periods of high unemployment and low interest rates are the right time for new low-carbon investments and infrastructure, including the kind required to support the transition to clean energy.
These small actions by individual companies can lead to a big difference for humanity. This simple dictum must be implemented by all of us to beat the next crisis. Or else, in the words of Bob Dylan, "It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there."
Amid tragedy, we have had a sniff of a cleaner, safer future. Once this pandemic is over, if we again repeat the same mistakes by exploiting natural resources, there will never be a better moment in our lives and we will just sleepwalk into another global crisis more malevolent by far than this corona virus. We have to understand the very fact that we are waking up to a new world, not apart from nature, but a part of it. We have the opportunity to see how our collective actions can have a wider impact.
COVID-19 makes it clear that our individual actions can ripple out to impact all of Earth’s natural systems, from climate to agriculture.
There are challenges to be met, curves to be flattened. Every action counts in this calculus. Recognizing the roles, we have to play alone and together, we can be better stewards of ourselves, and Earth itself.
- Adv. Ketki Jaltare