In physics, Isaac Newton notoriously understood that ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ This is universally identified as Newton’s 3rd Law. Philosophers are known to manipulate this and testify that for every negative occurrence there is also a positive conclusion. In this article, to a certain extent, I intend to modify one’s views on the existing coronavirus pandemic. I am sure everyone would agree that the ultimate aftermath of COVID-19 will be extensive impairment to the economy, social lives and will take many lives and, thus, overall will immensely offset any apparent ‘positive effects’. In spite of this, one thing that has developed into a quotidian occurrence is the rhythmic pessimistic publications regarding a negatively impacted global population. However, the coronavirus does have some discrete benefits.
Firstly, from cleaner air to unshackled wildlife, coronavirus lockdowns throughout the planet appear to have had copious positive effects on the environment. With COVID-19 initiating the majority to be confined to home and the local area, the crime rate has consequently plummeted, with the exclusion of a few specific offences. Moreover, traffic and pollution levels have also plunged comprehensively. NASA satellites have commenced documenting the extent to which pollution has subsided in so many regions of the globe. The results of this demonstrate how carbon emissions have fallen by over 25% in the most polluted areas including near Wuhan, China. A multitude of flights have been abandoned and crude oil has become relatively ‘worthless’. The population could only hope for such a scenario amidst the era of pollution and emission. Therefore, I would agree with the USA’s Dr Burke who rightfully claims, ‘a pandemic is a terrible way to improve environmental health.’
The Chinese word for ‘crisis’ originates from two words: one connoting ‘danger’ the other meaning ‘opportunity’. Due to the ruinous present coronavirus epidemic, the world has also seen some progressive health effects from major modifications in human behaviour. To begin with, the pandemic is said to have extended everyone’s alertness of general hygiene and health. Having been constantly prompted to wash hands and stay healthy, hopefully this will persist in the future and reduce fatalities from flu or more common communicable diseases. Furthermore, during the pandemic, people have been encouraged to volunteer and offer support within local communities as much as possible. As a result of this, residents all over the world have seen how we have come together amidst some of the hardest times. People have made connections within these communities which perhaps may have never been made through both the real and digital world. Moreover, as the weekly claps for the NHS exhibit, a greater appreciation for our key workers is evident. The world has also acquired a greater appreciation of everything day-to-day life has to offer without having to board on long flights and go to picturesque destinations abroad. Consequently, I would argue that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the human race might become more grateful, aware and appreciative.
Having said all this, research from previous global disasters shows that positive change generally diminishes over time. Ultimately, we prioritise the restoration of societal functions rather than pro-environmental and behavioural actions. Maintaining any change in behaviour is difficult and depends on many factors including motivations, routines, resources, self-determination and social influences.