The novel COVID-19 has put the world in a testing period as it threatens to shake the foundation of societies by destabilising entire economies, especially those poorer countries that are lacking in infrastructure and resources. Globally, the virus has spread to more than 700,000 and the numbers continue to rise as countries scramble to contain it before it completely overwhelms and inundates the health structure.
The aim of ‘social distancing’ is to ‘flatten the curve’ of the spread of the virus so as to give some breathing space to the hospitals and the doctors that are working round the clock to get a grip on the situation. The level of spread varies from country to country depending on its level of preparedness. Despite being a central transit location, UAE has once again proven its worth by being able to successfully manage the spread of the virus to an absolute minimum. A major reason for this has been sustainable best practices that have been placed in policies that have ensured that the system does not fail us even in times of emergencies.
While we sit inside our homes, this should also serve as a moment of reflection. There is a lesson to be learnt from how the world has come together to face an imminent threat to our lives. I believe that we are already seeing the positive effects of that collaboration. However, another impending threat that has been staring us in the face for a long time has been climate change and global warming. According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution, which is one of the components of global warming, kills more than 7 million people each year. In 2018, more than 60 million people suffered due to extreme weather and climate change. Heatwaves and wildfire killed more than 1,600 people in the US, Japan and Europe. The bushfires in Australia this year have destroyed entire regions and wiped many animal species. Cyclone Idai destroyed Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe while damages worth US $ 24 billion were caused to the US economy by hurricanes Florence and Michael according to the World Meteorological Organisation. However, it remains to be treated on the same footing as we are treating this pandemic. Experts also believe that pandemics and climate crisis go hand in hand. According to research, changing weather patterns might be causing species to move into environments where they don’t have the immunity against local diseases, giving rise to pandemics as the present one.
There is no doubt in my mind that united, we will overcome the coronavirus pandemic in the near future. However, with regards to the climate crisis, we may be already out of time. We can still mitigate the disastrous consequences by taking heed and setting in place stringent measures as we are doing for the Coronavirus.