Coronavirus has had a global impact, with over 2 million cases and approximately 150,000 deaths across 213 countries (WHO, 2020). Counter-measures led to travel restrictions, social-distancing rules and the demise of the World’s economy, which stopped “24 million people from escaping poverty” (Gopinath, 2020) (Vaswani, 2020). Amidst one of the world’s greatest crises, are there any silver linings?
The Community Impact
“Urban space has always been a place for the community”, which is essential to help bring “people from many different backgrounds and cultures” together and establish a sense of place (Giddings, 2007, p.1973).
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen community spirt enhanced all over the world, from schemes such as “telephone befriending service”, “a socially distanced cup of tea” and the Italians’ sing-a-longs from their balconies (Hope, 2020) (Murray and Pidd, 2020) (Newsround, 2020). Help has been specifically put in place for those in need, with communities shopping for the vulnerable and supermarkets creating time “slots reserved for the elderly” (Hope, 2020).
Vast amounts of support have also been generated for health care workers. In the UK, we have seen weekly “clapping for the NHS”, plus several fundraising schemes from “the Great British Campout for NHS staff”, to a 99-year-old veteran raising almost £27 million by “walking 100 lengths of his garden” (ITV, 2020) (JustGiving, 2020).
The Environmental Impact
Having faced major climate disasters already this year, for instance the devastating Australia forest fires, it is evident that climate change is an essential issue to address. The UN have stated emissions need to fall “by an average of 7.6 per cent a year” to limit “the rise in average global temperatures” (Cockburn, 2020).
(Hook and Wisniewska, 2020).
Due to the majority of people now staying at home, drastically reducing car and air travel, the levels of air pollutants have fallen by “almost 50%” (Newsround, 2020). As a result, EU “daily emissions have fallen 58[%]”, Venice’s “famous canals have never been cleaner” and carbon emissions fell “18% in China” (Hook and Wisniewska, 2020) (Hope, 2020) (The Guardian, 2020).
However, the pandemic also poses a risk to tackling this issue in the long run as it overshadows environmental concerns, having already seen climate talks and new policies postponed (Hook and Wisniewska, 2020). There is also the potential for emission levels to shoot back up in the aftermath, as seen after the 2007-2008 global financial crisis (Cockburn, 2020).
In the return to everyday life we must draw on these positives and hope that new environmentally beneficial habits, such as home-working and reduced trips, continue in our daily routines.
Cockburn, H. (2020). Coronavirus could trigger biggest fall in global carbon dioxide since Second World War, scientists day. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/coronavirus-air-pollution-carbon-dioxide-impact-environment-climate-crisis-a9446031.html. Accessed on: 20/04/20.
Fitzpatrick, J. (2020). Captain Tom Moore completes 100-lap challenge for NHS as donations top £17 million. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/15/second-world-war-veteran-thanks-generous-public-raising-75million/. Accessed on: 20/04/20.
Giddings, B. (2007). The Role of Urban Design in Developing Communities. Available at: https://www.irbnet.de/daten/iconda/CIB5109.pdf. Accessed on: 20/04/20.
Gopinath, G. (2020). The Great Lockdown: Worst Economic Downturn Since the Great Depression. Available at: https://blogs.imf.org/2020/04/14/the-great-lockdown-worst-economic-downturn-since-the-great-depression/. Accessed on: 18/04/20.
Hook, L. and Wisniewska, A. (2020) How corona virus stalled climate change momentum. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/052923d2-78c2-11ea-af44-daa3def9ae03. Accessed on: 19/04/20.
Hope, R. (2020). Coronavirus: Nine good things to come out of COVID-19 pandemic. Available at: https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-nine-good-things-to-come-out-of-covid-19-pandemic-11959667. Accessed on: 18/04/20.
ITV. (2020). Five stories that show coronavirus hasn’t broken community spirit. Available at: https://www.itv.com/news/2020-04-05/coronavirus-positive-stories-uk-community/. Accessed on: 20/04/20.
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Mandate. (2020). Mandate trade union welcomes co-operative approach from vast majority of retail employers on protecting workers’ health and safety. Available at: https://mandate.ie/2020/03/mandate-trade-union-welcomes-co-operative-approach-from-vast-majority-of-retail-employers-on-protecting-workers-health-and-safety/. Accessed on: 20/04/20.
Murray, J. and Pidd, H. (2020). Coronavirus: looking for good news- community cuppas and the Stockport Spiderman. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/mar/31/coronavirus-looking-for-good-news-and-hope-in-a-time-of-crisis. Accessed on: 20/04/20.
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Vaswani, K. (2020). Coronavirus: Millions will be left in poverty, World Bank warns. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52103666. Accessed on: 18/04/20.