Pandemic Adds to Possible Environmental Issues

A global pandemic put the world in an unusual scenario. Nobody prepared for it, and now it has changed the way of life across the face of Earth.

COVID-19 is inching its way towards cracking the top 10 of the leading causes of death in America. It is responsible for the deaths in the US (178, 670, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on cdc.gov). Deaths notwithstanding, confirmed cases are in the high 100,000s as well. California alone has its share with high of 746,191 confirmed cases and 14,089 reported deaths due to the Coronavirus. (update.covid19.ca.gov). It was in February that it began attacking and killing off the population. It is now September, and the numbers continue to grow at an alarming (to say it mildly) rate.

The pandemic is causing economic hardship as well. According to Forbes Magazine, “the economy is collapsing as we enter what is expected to be the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression” (forbes.com, Corona Virus Response Brings Economic Hardship, April, 202). As more and more people see their employment opportunities dwindle, either through permanent or temporary closures, more and more people will need to file for benefits. Can we support everyone?

You can also add the growing climate change debate to the Coronavirus list of reasons why we should be concerned.

While COVID-19 can’t be responsible for the current climate conditions, it certainly doesn’t make it any better. California reported the hottest temperature ever on Earth on August 16, 2020, in Death Valley. Temperatures rose to a crazy 130 degrees (reuters.com, World temperature record set in California’s Death Valley, August 17, 2020). While Death Valley reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and the people sweltered with little anything anyone could do, the world witnessed the hottest day ever recorded in North America. The next 15 days that followed this record-high were the hottest on record for the last 70 years of 1950 for the entire West Coast. The 2006 heatwave of 2006 killed 600, hospitalized 1,200+, and caused 16,000 people to go to the ER (latime.com). In today’s climate and with a global pandemic, the death rates are most certainly expected to increase drastically.

Electrical phenomenons can also be added to the growing emergency of COVID-19 concerns. Day time lightning was seen in 91-degree Fahrenheit weather at 8 am, the same day the record of the hottest temperature was recorded on August 16. The lightning discharge was extraordinarily unusual and uncommon. There have been 10,849 lightning strikes in 3 days that caused 367 active fires and 11 major wildfires raging in California, generating over 300,000 acres to burn. (fire.ca.gov, Daily Wildfire Update, September 11, 2020). Let’s not forget to mention the first-ever Fire tornado spotted and a warning issued shortly after that. These fires are degrading the air quality and causing ashes to fill the air, just like the heat and just like the Coronavirus.

The pandemic is the primary focus of the public. But, is it overshadowing or perhaps adding to possible climate change issues? It’s difficult to say, but hard to rule out. There is bound to be an extreme change due to increased heat and air quality. So, all there is left to do is research and find a way to protect the air and environment better. Can we do both at the same time?