Ghost of Environmental Crisis Haunts COVID-19 Response
Coronavirus is a microscopic organism affecting all human beings alike. It spreads through contact transfer and the underlying respiratory condition it causes is called COVID-19. It originated in Wuhan, China and has now spread in all parts of the world. It has become a global pandemic.
Based on our past experience with such pandemics, it is important that the curve representing the total number of new cases per day is flattened. Until then, extreme precautions should be taken, and it is important to realize that things are not and can not be “business as usual.”
However, neither did the curve flatten, nor did the graph stabilize and despite that, India opened up the lockdown. After the opening up, there has been a continued increase in the number of cases (see Figure above), and deaths. Many other countries have also done this and as a result, the total number of Coronavirus cases in the world has risen above 7.6 million as of today. More than 4,27,000 people have already lost their lives.
Arguments given for opening up respective countries are all focused around the Economy. It is felt that the Coronavirus lockdown for protecting health has become a roadblock for the economy. The economies of many countries are said to be affected and therefore it is no longer possible to maintain the lockdown. To be more clear, Health has interfered with the Economy. The age old phrase, Health is Wealth, has been completely forgotten by the decision makers.
On closer observation, this is not something new. The same argument has echoed in the environmental sector since the industrial revolution. Environmental protection is certainly given lip service, but Environment is always seen as an opposing force to “Development”. And the question, “what is the point of having gold bars if you don’t have a decent Planet to put it on,” is often ignored or receives a unclear response.
Environment, like Health in this case, has been seen to be interfering with the Economy. The fact that Environment makes the Economy if often not understood by most decision makers. This is why the world continues to burn in the climate crisis and is now witnessing real evidence of sea-level rise which is engulfing coastal habitats. It is time all human beings and especially the decision makers learn to make the direct linkage between Health — Environment and the Economy. It will help some, of the little that is left.