The unexpected and positive side effects of the Coronavirus pandemic'
First and foremost, nothing can entirely compensate for the devastation, destruction, and disruption to the millions of people's lives who have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic — or the millions of people who have died as a result.
But, as with everything in life, where there are negatives, there have to be positives, which many have embraced as society slowly adapts to the measures taken to control the spread of the virus.
What can we learn from the positives and use to our advantage in the future?
Working From Home
The Future - Post-Pandemic
Due to restricted industrial activities during the COVID-19 lockdown, positive environmental changes have slowly occurred. The sky is bluer; the air is cleaner. One study found that harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution over Western Europe, northern China, and the US in early 2020 decreased by 60% compared to the same time the previous year as a direct result of less vehicle and airline travel, and a lockdown of the fashion, construction, and other industries.
There has been a 500% decrease in sewage and industrial effluent run-off, meaning our waterways are cleaner and river pH levels have improved. Worldwide, noise pollution has decreased by as much as 68%. One study of whales found that their stress hormone levels dropped and attributed the decrease in hormone levels to reductions in shipping noise. Research has also shown that loud noise can have negative effects on the cardiovascular and metabolic systems of other wildlife, as well as humans.
Littering has reduced. Not just an eyesore, litter is bad for our environment. Litter has surged each time lockdown restrictions are lifted, but the good news is that the lockdown has resulted in far less litter and a cleaner environment for all.
There is growing evidence from around the world linking air pollution with increased infections and death. But a recent survey by the British Lung Foundation found that people with asthma and other lung conditions had a significant decrease in symptoms and an improvement in their overall health during the lockdown.
Environmental activists with Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Green Peace have continually highlighted the risks to global temperature rise posed by the overproduction and overconsumption of goods, overuse of fossil fuels, and continued deforestation, all of which lead to the loss of wildlife habitats and ultimately species extinction.
Working From Home
Not everyone has been happy to work from home during the lockdown, but those who are has embraced their newfound freedom...
- No need for office attire;
- no more long commutes, and no more being crammed into packed public transport among sweaty armpits (meaning no more being constantly breathed over by fellow passengers);
- no more wasting money on unhealthy work lunches, which means a saving to more than £2,500, which is the average annual cost of coffee and snacks for workers; and
- no more office gossip and bickering (which is never good).
Working remotely does, however, mean more productivity. Research has suggested that workers have been "more productive while working from home". Companies are also discovering the many advantages of having a remote workforce, as well, including the savings they realise not having to lease office space or purchase office supplies. Employers can also recruit potential employees from anywhere in the world.
For hygiene reasons, I'm never a fan of shaking people's hands. I'm much loving the virtual high-fives. Why? I've seen how unhygienic people can be. Also, pre-pandemic, many undercover investigations found faecal bacteria in the ice at many McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC chains due to the poor hygiene of staff, who did not properly and thoroughly wash their hands after going to the toilet.
Failing to wash hands is a disgusting habit I doubt is confined to ice machines at popular fast-food restaurants. Heaven only knows the level of contamination on all chairs, tables, and food packaging, and in the food itself! It's a shame that businesses' efforts to deep-clean and disinfect their workplaces required the coronavirus pandemic. I hope that hand-washing and sanitation both continue long after the pandemic is under control.
Since the pandemic began nearly a year ago, we’ve learned that people who are at greater risk of dying from Covid-19 are overweight or obese — and, being healthier and fitter increases the chance of surviving the virus or at least, decrease the severity of the illness which was enough to encourage people to get fit. [You know this isn’t quite true, right? Obesity plus an underlying condition are what do it. Not all obese people have co-morbid health conditions; the incidence is higher among obese people, but incidence does not equate to a statistical majority.
I know two obese women, near 300 lbs., who came through Covid-19 without going to urgent care or a hospital. But lots and lots of skinny men have dropped over dead from it. Demonising people due to a few additional pounds is a personal peeve, rightly so.]
Many have been inspired to keep fit thanks to Captain Tom Moore, the 99-year-old Army veteran who walked 100 lengths of his garden [every day] And we can’t leave out Joe Wicks, the fitness coach whose online workouts have garnered more than 80 million views worldwide.
Since 2020, when the lockdown began, bike sales have increased more than 63% as people switched from public transport and cars to cycling. Health and fitness equipment sales have increased by over 700%.
Car crashes and injuries have reduced as drivers who now work from home resort to cycling. Studies have shown that car accident rates increased every time the lockdown was lifted.
Pre-pandemic, knife crimes, gang-related crimes, and other violent crimes were spiralling out of control across the UK, sparking calls for authorities to “break the spiral of violence”.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, crime rates have fallen, and gangs and other large antisocial adult and teenage groups have been less likely to loiter outside people's homes.
Thanks to lockdowns and social distancing orders, burglaries and pick-pocketing 'for obvious reasons' have decreased.
Emergency healthcare services are no longer overwhelmed by calls to tend to drunks and disorderly revellers, in need of medical care, who verbally and physically abuse NHS workers.
UK police fear crime and anti-social behaviour will increase again as the national lockdown begins to ease. So we should enjoy our low crime rates and relative safety, at least for now.
Confined to our homes with many businesses closed, and having a lot of extra time on our hands, we have been unable to make impulse purchases. Instead, we have been repairing, recycling, and re-purposing items, rather than continually shopping and purchasing unnecessary consuming. Others have learned they can cut and colour their own hair and clean their own homes.
- Families have "saved more money than ever", according to a survey by the Bank of England.
- Workers on furlough who'd rather not work were very happy to be paid 80% of their monthly salary for not working.
- There being only a few or no open restaurants, people have been learning to cook at home, replicating their favourite popular takeaways (“fake-aways”).
- With no new people to talk to, families have been learning new skills and new languages.
- There being nowhere to go, people have been taking care of those ‘deferred home maintenance’ they had previously avoided.
- With fewer opportunities to seek out information at the library or otherwise in person, people are becoming more computer-literate, learning how to use and do things online. including video conferencing and chatting, both of which are necessities for those who need social interaction. Unlike previous pandemics,, our ancestors never had the technology we have today.
- While clapping for the NHS every Tuesday, the pandemic has given people the chance to meet neighbours with whom they had never spoken. Others have said, "We have never spent so much time together as a family, and have become much closer".
The pandemic taught us to work together. It gave us a common understanding of something we all had to endure. Something we can all relate to, regardless of our status.
And, I doubt there's anyone who doesn't know how long 2 metras is!
The Future / Post-Pandemic
As the world slowly returns to normal, do we need to constantly jam-pack the streets with our vehicles stuck in traffic polluting the atmosphere and going nowhere?
Do we need to keep plundering the earth's resources by shopping for another 'something' with money we don't have for items we'll hardly wear or use?
Do we need to maintain our 'materialistic' and 'throwaway’ society and our 'culture of convenience'? Do we need to use so single-use items, which end up in landfills or incinerated? These cheaply made goods, produced in excessive quantities, represent about 70% of the toxic waste in landfills.
Do we need to travel abroad regularly or exclusively? Could we perhaps stay in the UK for a change, aka enjoy a staycation, and support our economy and businesses? All that travelling abroad means we are polluting the atmosphere, supporting other economies rather than our own, and losing touch with our own country. Especially those that support the abuse of animals kept in cruel, abusive conditions and exploited to entertain tourists.
Do business professionals need to travel constantly to manage their businesses? Many of those professionals have been forced to participate in web and telephone conference calls, and they have discovered they save both time and money by staying put.
We can make our high streets greener with places of education and health and fitness education centres — and not littered with coffee, fast-food, and betting shops for people to get their daily fix.
We have already done the hardest part of making any new change: we have implemented them during the pandemic lockdown. If we can all individually continue to maintain at least some of those small changes after the end of the pandemic, perhaps we will come to a 'new normal'. Consider it a minor compromise for the health of the people and the planet we share. We are all responsible for our carbon footprint, and we must take responsibility now for our precious planet and our good health.
COVID-19 killed millions of people. Let's save the lives of millions of people and animals lives by looking after, protecting, and conserving the planet for all the benefit of all of us today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.
We came together to fight COVID-19
Now we need to come together to fight another threat – The Environment.
More By This Author
Open Letter to the Anti-Maskers: Why We Choose to Wear a Face Mask: Many people are choosing to wear a face mask, and it has NOTHING to do with the coronavirus.
Coronavirus sceptics : why Are We So Anti This and Anti That? What are people so against?
© 2021 Tony Sky
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on February 24, 2021: