Climate change in the time of COVID-19

Despite the world being at a standstill as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on our planet, scientists predict that the global rate of CO2 is still expected to rise in 2020, with the pandemic “doing little to slow down climate change”. As life-threatening as Coronavirus is, it does not eliminate the threat posed to our people and planet as a result of our unfavourable actions.  

Mindlessly going about our day without much consideration of the impending consequences of the climate crisis seems to be the norm, however, we are approaching the point of no return and consciousness around our climate is important for everyone who is in the position to make a change (especially large corporations). See below for some recommendations on how your business can have an impact.

It has been estimated that the worst impacts of climate change could be irreversible by 2030 and that “carbon pollution must be cut in half in the next 10 years for us to avoid catastrophic, irreversible damage to our planet.” It is believed that we use more of the Earth’s resources than it can renew. 

We have listed some of the most alarming effects of climate change below for a better understanding of the unfortunate realities our planet currently faces, as well as some ideas to mitigate them.

1. Sea levels rising

The average global sea level is expected to rise 18 – 59 cms before the end of this century which results in erosion, flooding, soil contamination and the destruction of animal habitats, among other issues. 

The rise in sea levels is a result of excessive burning of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide (a heat-trapping gas) being released into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide is then absorbed by the oceans, causing it to rise. This also causes ocean acidification, which is a reduction in the pH of the ocean over an extended period of time, caused primarily by uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

Another major reason sea levels continue to rise is a result of melting polar ice caps, caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions – a rather vicious cycle.  

2. Severe weather conditions

The likelihood of severe weather conditions such as heatwaves, extreme rainfall and flooding will increase as a result of the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. The unfortunate truth is that those in disadvantaged positions are most affected as they are at an increased exposure to climate hazards; increased susceptibility to damage caused by climate hazards and decreased ability to cope with and recover from the damage.

3. Wildlife at risk and forestation destroyed

A natural progression of climate change is, of course, the increased risk of animal life and their habitats being destroyed. It is estimated that more than 1 million species are at risk of extinction as a result of climate change. Some plant and animal life adapt to change more easily than others, however, it is difficult for many to adapt to harsh weather conditions and with temperatures only on the rise, they’re certainly not in a favourable position.

4. Air pollution

There are several kinds of air pollutants, namely: smog, soot, mold, greenhouse gases and other hazardous air pollutants such as mercury and lead. Our air is constantly being polluted from the harmful emissions that occur on a daily basis and there’s currently more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than any other time in human history. 

The consequences of air pollution are harsh, with effects on both human health (cardiovascular problems, allergies, asthma attacks, conjunctivitis, bronchial diseases, lung or skin cancers, vision problems, blood problems, in the mental development of children, among others) and the environment (preventing plant evolution, acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer, global warming, the greenhouse effect, etc.) alike.


5.  Increase in hunger and water crisis

The increase in both a hunger and water crisis, is most rife amongst those in developing countries, who lack the means to adjust to harsh lifestyle conditions. As if the global hunger issue isn’t bad enough, climate change causes agriculture production to slow down, meaning less food availability. 

 As a result of droughts, rising water temperatures and intense downpours, water pollution also occurs and bacteria and viruses thrive in these new conditions and when they come into contact with humans, can cause numerous illnesses. A lack of water is, of course, a major issue as all living organisms require it to sustain themselves.

Ways to make a change

1. Carbon offsetting

Carbon offsetting refers to funding low-carbon energy projects that reduce the inevitable carbon emissions elsewhere restoring balance while taking responsibility and contributing to environmental and socio-economic development. This is especially helpful for large corporations, who emit high levels of carbon dioxide. Should carbon offsetting be something your business is interested in, Climate Neutral Group can assist you with all of your requirements. 

2. Investing in more efficient transport systems

Despite many public transport systems across the globe not currently being operational, at least on the same scale as before, once the world restores to our “new normal”, air pollution is expected to surge. 

Encourging government to invest in more efficient transport systems means that CO2 levels would be significantly reduced, reversing some of the harmful damage caused. Less flights and more people in trains opposed to motor vehicles would make the biggest difference. 

3. Investing in renewable energy

Renewable energy refers to any system that allows clean energy to be generated from a natural and sustainable source that can constantly be replenished. It is important because it produces little to no harmful emissions and means less burning of fossil fuels, which greatly impacts the planet.

The time to act is now, while we still can. There is no plan B, or planet B, and we need to live as sustainably as possible to ensure a healthy planet for generations to come. 

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