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  • Writer's pictureAbir Mohammed

The Socio-Environmental Impacts of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the world economy. From its small beginnings in Wuhan, the virus has exponentially grown to span nations all across the world. With numerous national restrictions and lockdowns being set as a consequence of the disease, along with the health implications associated with it, there have been significant social and environmental impacts that have affected billions.

Impacts On the Environment

As the pandemic grew deadlier, infecting millions around the world, countries began to enforce national restrictions such as lockdowns. Such restrictions had the sole aim of disrupting social physical contact. However, as a consequence of these new rules, the number of vehicles on the road massively decreased. Additionally, industrial activities became often suspended due to the close proximity of workers in factories. Due to these two factors, there was a massive decrease in the number of people using vehicles to transport, as shown by the City Mapper Mobility Index. Lower vehicles on the road consequently lead to lower emissions, thus has improved air quality across the world over time, showing positive signs for the environment.

On the other hand, the environment may have suffered in other areas, particularly in terms of waste management. There has been a massive influx in the use of medical equipment globally, thus a huge volume of waste has been produced. The issue with excess waste is that it often is used to fill landfills. Landfills often create biogases such as methane which are greenhouse gases that negatively affect the environment. A second point many economists have raised concerns the price of oil. Since the number of vehicles on the road has massively decreased, the demand for oil has also decreased, thus lowering the price of oil. What does this mean for our future? This could mean a sudden mass increase in the demand for oil, especially if countries such as the US begin to purchase bulk amounts of oil as an investment for the future. A mass depletion of finite fossil fuels can accelerate the exhaustion of resources for future generations, lowering the sustainability of the environment.

Impacts On Society

The main effect of COVID-19 on society is in the impact it has had on personal health. The virus itself weakens the immune system of the host it infects, leading to people being more prone to other diseases such as the flu. Another factor that health professionals have noted is that lockdowns have led to people leading sedentary lifestyles. Without access to the gym, or even much freedom as to go out and exercise, many people have really struggled with maintaining fitness. Therefore, in the short run, health has indeed declined, due to a change in lifestyles which in turn have negatively impacted society.

However, one thing that is certain is that awareness of sanitation and hygiene has massively increased. People now more than ever are wearing masks, sanitizing and washing their hands. In the long run, this could be extremely beneficial as it will lead to thousands, maybe even millions avoiding communicable diseases due to this increased awareness.

The Bottom Line

The coronavirus pandemic has had adverse effects on our planet and our society. These impacts span nations, from short-term negatives to long-term positives; however, it seems indiscrete to say that there has been an overall positive effect on both health and the environment over the long run. Although it is needless to say that the emotional burden of the lives lost and changing circumstances will take a burden on society for some time.

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