Did the Events of 2020 Make Us Forget About the Environment?

The COVID-19 Crisis Has Dominated 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has dominated the news throughout 2020. This makes sense because the virus is so dangerous that it has forced the entire world to take extraordinary measures to prevent its spread. Even so, COVID-19 has managed to kill more than two million people and counting, which isn’t including the millions and millions of other patients who are suffering from lasting consequences. Unfortunately, this has caused other serious issues to be sidelined, with an excellent example being the environment.

Did the COVID-19 Crisis Cause Us to Forget about the Environment?

So far, the COVID-19 crisis has had a wide range of effects on the environment. Some have been beneficial in nature. In contrast, others have had a negative effect, which is a huge problem when climate change is becoming more and more evident.

For instance, chances are good that interested individuals have heard some of the stories about how decreased human activity is allowing nature to make a comeback in a wide range of locations in a wide range of regions. Some of these changes are expected to be temporary. Yes, the huge fall in air traffic has brought about a huge fall in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, which is particularly important because air traffic accounts for about 11 percent of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions as a whole. However, it seems safe to say that people will start flying more once COVID-19 has been brought under control. Meanwhile, there is hope that other changes will have more staying power. One excellent example would be how a lot of people have chosen to live simpler lives at home rather than head outside, which could have significant benefits for the environment if they can keep it up in the long run. Each individual instance of someone choosing to cook at home rather than eat out might not be very impressive, but this is the kind of thing that can add up real fast when there is enough repetition by enough people.

Having said this, other effects of the COVID-19 crisis have been much more problematic. For example, the high costs of the measures needed to combat COVID-19 mean that a lot of governments have scrambled to divert resources from less immediate concerns. Something that has had a very detrimental effect on programs meant to help out the environment. Similarly, the measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have hindered scientific research into environmental issues in the same way that they have disrupted other activities in other matters. This is a serious problem because that research is what tells interested parties what is happening as well as how to improve upon it. On top of this, it is worth mentioning that the COVID-19 crisis has sucked up a lot of energy from other initiatives, which hasn’t helped when it comes to environmental initiatives.

Besides this, there are some changes that will have unpredictable consequences for the future of environmentalism. For instance, COVID-19 has bolstered some people’s faith in science while encouraging the spread of a wide range of conspiracy theories. There is a consensus on the part of environmental scientists that climate change is happening, so an increase in faith in science could help with the convincing of the rest of society. Unfortunately, the increased popularity of conspiracy theories might be enough to counteract that. Meanwhile, the measures that have been taken to prevent the COVID-19 crisis have shown that society is willing to make great efforts to fend off great threats. Unfortunately, it remains to be seen whether it would be willing to make the same effort for something that is even less immediate than the virus, particularly since compliance with those measures has been very patchwork in some places.

Further Considerations

In any case, the COVID-19 crisis has indeed caused other serious issues to be sidelined. However, some of its effects should be considered cause for hope that governments can act in a coordinated manner to combat something that should concern all of us. Once the COVID-19 crisis has been brought under control, governments will hopefully act to further encourage those beneficial trends while taking steps to stop the damage done to environmental initiatives in the process. However, no one can predict the future with certainty, so it remains to be seen whether they will be able to succeed in doing so or not. Of course, this is also assuming that all of them will be interested in doing so, which is by no means guaranteed.