By Rohit Kumar
Climate change is a slow pandemic itself that in years to come will cost human lives so we can learn a lesson from this particular pandemic and devise a future which is sustainable in equal parts for humans , environment and wildlife.
Failure to act over climate change complements the risk of future pandemics. Rising land temperatures (forming urban heat islands) increases the probabilities of infectious disease spread such as dengue.The risk of pandemics and epidemics is, thus, not only restricted to existing diseases but also more dangerous pathogens of the past which lay in melting permafrost.
Even though global informal alliances called for the green stimulus to be a part of economic recovery programs in the post-COVID-19 era, not much would be done in India and other developing countries when millions face unemployment and food scarcity. Have we taken enough measures to contain COVID-19 by reducing air pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases?as Air pollution kills approximately 7 million people every year and is responsible for one third of all deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease.
Over 90% of the global population lives in places where the WHO outdoor air quality guideline levels are not met, and about two-thirds of this exposure is caused by burning of fossil fuels, which also drives climate change.
Efforts to control COVID-19 transmission have reduced economic activity and led to temporary improvements in air quality in some areas.In contrast, as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that drive climate change persist for a long time in the atmosphere, temporary emissions reductions only have a limited effect on atmospheric concentrations.
Carbon dioxide levels at observing stations around the world in the first months of 2020 have been higher than in 2019.Any short-term environmental benefits as a result of COVID-19 come at an unacceptable human and economic cost, and are no substitute for planned and sustained action on air quality and climate.
Remedies for climate change must be introduced in our efforts to combat the current pandemic and government stimulus should be channelled to zero-carbon infrastructure projects.This will not only help us avert the next big disaster for which risk conditions are being actively met by changing climatic risk conditions, but also help create more jobs in the green industry to provide long-term resilience in our built environment.