As most industrial activities were suspended due to COVID-19, which is alleged to have started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and the first confirmed case in Korea is in January this year, the economy has stagnated. The fact that it is uncertain about when this situation will end is adding to the psychological anxiety. However, as factories shut down after the COVID-19 outbreak and people’s going out decreased, we are gradually beginning to see clear skies without fine dust, and the remaining wild animals are returning to their habitats. Before COVID-19, there had been no improvement in the environment despite numerous efforts, including the implementation of a carbon point system or a carbon emission trading system to restore polluted environments around the world. Although COVID-19 is a unique situation, it has proved that humans have a significant impact on the pollution of the Earth’s environment.
From a human standpoint, COVID-19 is undoubtedly a disaster that shouldn’t have happened, but from an environmental perspective, this crisis may not be a disaster but an opportunity to save the Earth itself. It is necessary to reconsider how indifferent and selfish humans have been to the environment.
According to data released by the Ministry of Environment on May 13, the average concentration of fine dust in the country decreased by about 27 percent year-on-year from December 2019 to March of this year. The number of ‘bad’ days with fine dust concentrations of 36μg/m3 or higher also decreased by an average of two days from the same period last year. Before COVID-19 spread in earnest, fine dust concentrations across China were 64μg/m3, but in March, when COVID-19 reached its peak, they halved to 32㎍/m3. The fact that clear skies can be seen especially in India and China, where air pollution was so severe that it was hard to see right in front of them. These points show how much the concentration of fine dust has decreased since COVID-19.
We can often hear that “When I ventilated the house, I was able to open the windows without worrying about fine dust,” and “I went out without checking the concentration of fine dust.” Maybe the Earth is protesting against humans to survive.
These situations, which can’t be easily experienced, should not end up as a temporary phenomenon. To maintain the Earth’s clean-up condition, we humans should start reducing the use of air conditioners and heaters and use public transportation instead of our own cars, which we can easily practice in our daily lives.
Also, national efforts to manage industrial facilities and factories, which are the causes of global warming, are needed. One of the reasons why factories have a significant impact on global warming is that if mass-produced goods are not sold, they are burned to avoid degrading the value of the goods. Dioxins, which occur when burning garbage, does not decompose well and can exist on Earth for decades or even hundreds of years. So burning the remaining products from mass production can have a harmful effect on the Earth for a long time. It is necessary to discuss and present solutions to these problems as soon as possible.
Furthermore, all countries should work together to protect Earth’s environment, as the world is all connected, and the phenomena that occur in one country, such as China’s yellow dust, can affect other countries.
We can make sure that it is human beings who benefit from the improvement of the environment. The environment and humans are not separate from each other but need to interact and depend on each other. If you’re reading this now, why don’t we join in improving the environment for human beings today?