In just a matter of a few months, COVID-19 has turned into a global pandemic with the number of deaths increasing exponentially. Scientists around the globe are struggling to find a cure for this virus as the economic progress in the world has come to a halt.
This virus has not only affected the world economically but has also caused a psychological pandemic. People are trapped in their homes during the lockdown and the normal lifestyle has drastically changed. People no longer are eager to relax in front of their favorite spectrum cable TV, because that is what they have been doing for the past two months and now they want diversity in their activities. The absence of human activities, however, has led to a positive effect on the environment and contrary to the emotional and economical state of the world, that change is rather positive.
This year had been regarded as critical in terms of international climate action, but the covid-19 has stolen our attention. However, the significant reduction has been seen in the amount of carbon emission into the environment and it sounds ironic but the virus has contributed significantly to reducing carbon emissions more than 25 years’ worth of global climate negotiations.
A significant reduction in the emission of nitrous oxide, which is generated by the burning of fossil fuels, can be seen through the eye of NASA’s satellites. This reduction illustrates what should be done in order to stabilize temperatures below 2-degree Celsius.
Hopefully, this pandemic will be over, but then again the factories will start releasing emissions in the atmosphere to make up for the lost time and people will go back on their normal lifestyle, unaware of the fact that the effects of climate change can be as bad as covid-19 or more if we a step is not taken. This pandemic has indeed led us into a horrible situation, but at the same time, it has provided us a rare opportunity and given us a head start to fixing the mess in the climate we have made.
The question is what we can do about climate change? The reason why people are not fixing their ways is due to the lack of knowledge about the severity of climate change. Hence, the first step in fixing this issue is by increasing awareness and educating them with the core knowledge of our actions and its consequences. People need to be taught how drastic climate changes can and how they can affect us in the long run.
Environmental studies are the field of study of the natural environment, earth, its natural resources; it’s about learning conservation of natural energy resources and balancing the economic stature of a country in a way that does not hurt the environment. Since education is the key, environmental studies should be made mandatory. It is important that we adopt lifestyles that do not hurt the environment.
When we talk about environmental studies we talk about classic environmentalism and sustainable development in a very broad aspect.
Let us look at these in detail.
What Is Classic Environmentalism?
Classic environmentalism is a process scientists or researchers follow to find out about the potential threats to humans and the stability of the eco-system. The root cause of these threats is traced and then research is done on which human economic activity is causing this threat. When the awareness about this threat starts to reach the local public, they take notice of it and stand up for a change.
It is either a politically influenced movement or NGOs take up the cause and stand up against it. The government then has to consider the issue and take measures against it, either by lowering the impact or, if it’s very serious, stopping that economic activity altogether.
However, since classical environmentalism requires a lot of governmental influence in adopting and implementing regulations, this hasn’t proven to be the most effective way to create a balance between economic development and healthy environmental damage control.
What is sustainable development?
It is the act of increasing per capita income so as to improve the living conditions of people, especially the poor while maintaining a healthy environment for the generations to follow. Classical environmentalism can be replaced by sustainable development.
What must be done to achieve sustainable development?
This question has a very extensive answer. Sustainable development itself is a paradox. To find that perfect equilibrium between economic development and environmental sustenance is a dilemma. There has to be a compromise; there is no economic development without compromising on the environment. Awareness is necessary, without awareness it is very hard to educate people about the importance of taking care of the world they live in. Therefore, the United Nations has come up with sustainable development goals.
Sustainable development goals
Sustainable development goals are a layout to achieve a preferable, steady, and a better future for all. It confronts the global challenges we are facing and would face in the future if we do not take action at this very stage.
Issues such as climate changes, unemployment, poverty, inequality, pollution, environmental degradation, peace, and justice are challenged through this layout.
There are around 17 issues that need urgent attention and action; these highlighted issues are all interconnected. In order to tackle all these issues, it is a must that we accomplish them all by the year 2030 or else it can become quite impossible for us to face the consequences.
The goals are:
- GOAL 1: No Poverty
- GOAL 2: Zero Hunger
- GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
- GOAL 4: Quality Education
- GOAL 5: Gender Equality
- GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
- GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
- GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
- GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
- GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
- GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
- GOAL 13: Climate Action
- GOAL 14: Life Below Water
- GOAL 15: Life on Land
- GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
- GOAL 17: Partnerships to Achieve the Goal
Goal 13: Climate action
Climate change is a global issue and every single nation in the world is experiencing its brunt. Greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 50% as compared to what they were in 1990. There is a possibility that these climatic changes will leave an irreversible impact on our environment if we do not take immediate action.
It is pretty evident after the widespread of coronavirus and lockdown of human activities that humans have intervened with nature and its ways due to which our environment is suffering globally.
On average, climate disasters cause an economic loss of hundred billions of dollars annually. Humans are accountable for around 91 percent of the geophysical disasters. Between 1998 and 2017, such disasters have resulted in the loss of 1.3 million lives and injuries to 4.4 billion people. The objective is to mobilize the US $100 billion dollars by 2020 that can cater to the needs of the developing countries of investing in low carbon development and getting used to climate change.
Supporting vulnerable areas will immediately make a contribution not only to Goal 13 but other SDGs as well. These actions need to simultaneously integrate with catastrophe measures, sustainable natural resource management, and human safety into countrywide improvement techniques. With sturdy political will, expanded investment, and the usage of existing technology, it is possible to restrict the increase in average global temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial stages. However, this calls for pressing and ambitious collective action.
Awareness needs to be spread through different means apart from conventional newspapers and ENGOs. Internet companies like AT&T, cable service providers such as Spectrum TV Stream Service, and more should come up with campaigns or even documentaries to create awareness among its users.
Integrative Problem Solving
Both classical environmentalism and sustainable development have one thing in common, that is to emphasize the need for integrated problem-solving. People need to look at a deeper level of the impact of their individual and economic actions on the environment, whether direct or indirect.
Market price does not incorporate the social cost of the modifications to an ecosystem. Information that is not reflected in prices can matter both to nature and to people relying on ecosystem services. Ignoring this environmental information leads to inefficient choices, phenomenon economists call market failure.
The social cost is a cost borne by humans when they are harmed by changes in the biophysical world. This damage is called an externality, which can be negative as well as positive. Negative externalities can be controlled and internalized through government regulations such as taxation and capping. However, it is very difficult to make factory owners realize this without proper training and education on environmental studies.
Realizations from the pandemic
There is no such evidence that covid-19 was caused due to climate change. However, the sudden improvement in climate after the halt in all global factories and heavy transportation system that causes emissions shows us that this is an opportunity to fix our mess and adopt a healthy lifestyle, the one that is healthy for mother earth too because the effect of climate change can get much worse than this pandemic itself according to experts.
In order to make that happen the importance of environmental studies need to be instilled from a very early point in education. This could be made a compulsory subject in schools and colleges so that the future industrialists, entrepreneurs, and businessmen of the country are well aware of the consequences of their actions on natural environment.
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