Does COVID-19 help heal global warming?

Updated: Sep 10, 2020



The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted the world in many aspects, especially the economy. Most people, on the other hand, have said it helps solve global warming problem, as seen from the improvement of air quality due to pausing of business activities. I can still remember the Naza’s satellite picture of China showing a tremendously decline in pollution within a month due to the lock down and the closing of factories, causing the decrease of contamination by implication. Therefore, an important question followed – “Does COVID-19 help heal global warming”? Today, I’m going to reveal the truth you may not ever know.


1. The climate gets better only in short period from the lockdown, but COVID-19 doesn’t help solve the global warming in the long run, especially the rising of plastic waste. In April 2020, Executive Director of UNEP claimed that COVID-19 should not be perceived as environmental benefits. The shrinking of economic activities seemed to improve air quality and reduce GHG, but this is only temporary. Do not forget that this global pandemic is piling up mountains of medical disposals, dangerous wastes, and plastic wastes, particularly from single-use packaging. If we won’t change production and consumption behaviors to be more environmental friendly, the climate change crisis will still exist, and surely be more intense in the future.


2. Solutions to global warming may reduce its importance during economic recovery after the pandemic, and may worsen global warming crisis. When the COVID-19 outbreak has passed, economic recovery will become the first priority based on each country’s policy. However, a long-term investment on infrastructure can substantially be done in line with sustainably preserving the environment; for instance, by investing in renewable energy, or supporting eco-friendly public transportation. The policy of each country is needed to be closely monitored, especially the US’s under the presidency of Donald Trump (which will extend if he wins the election the end of this year). The US had already retreated from the Paris Agreement in aiming for GHG reduction worldwide, what direction it takes on an economic recovery? I expect that Trump will fully recover the manufacturing industry without concerning GHG emissions. More than that, the governments of other countries may pay less attention to support clean energy, as oil price has been cheaper due to the price war. The oil price tends to be low because of shrinking demand, in a way, resulting that other countries are less motivated to use clean energy that is much more expensive.


3. The increase of internet traffic and digital data volume, particularly in the cloud during stay-at-home period, accelerates global warming in the long term, especially with an enormous usage of electrical power. The use of internet and digital data carelessly on, such as, video streaming and online games, brings about the overwhelming usage of electricity. All too often this issue is overlooked. In my perspective, when our society is going to be a fully digital world, we should realize another side of the internet and its innovation. It is true that the internet and digital data bring huge benefits and is necessary to our life, but I would like you to think that “Every time we use it, we should aware of its benefit and danger, and use it sufficiently and as necessary”.


To conclude, if we don’t cooperate in changing our behaviors to be more environmental friendly starting from today, the impact of climate change crisis will surely come to us unexpectedly just like the COVID-19 pandemic, which occurs in silence, dragging on, and severely affects us all.

“This article is based on personal perception, it is not necessary to be in accordance with the opinion of institute the author is under.”

Article By Suparit Suwanik

Translation : Chortip Oveerawong

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