With the constant depressing news surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, we wanted to break up the negativity and focus on some of the positives that have come from this situation. Obviously, we’ll add the what should be unnecessary disclaimer that we do perceive the Coronavirus situation as bad. Now that we’ve got that out of the way for the would-be trolls, let’s get right into some positive effects that the Coronavirus has caused.
1. Brief Environmental Recovery
Since so many industries were forced to close their doors to prevent the spread of this infectious disease, the resulting pollution was reduced to virtually null overnight. As a result, the Earth and it’s inhabitants in these affected areas were able to breath again. You may have already heard the statistic that was published in Scientific American showing how China’s emissions were 25% lower in February due to the production halt. This is significant for a number of reasons, especially since our planet is already on a collision course with the devastating impacts of climate change as a result of human activities. The world’s top climate scientists have been warning the world for decades that humans must greatly reduce emissions and other polluting activities in order to prevent catastrophic climate change. The result of current reductions in emissions lends credit to our planet’s ability to recover, if given the opportunity to do so.
2. COVID-19 Has Saved Lives
Every lost life is a tragedy. While we rightfully mourn the losses inflicted by the latest Coronavirus, approximately 78,000 Chinese children and adults are thankful to be breathing clean air today; air that would have otherwise taken their lives over the same two-month time frame as a result of pollution. To be clear, this is a conservative estimate of lives spared from pollution-related deaths. Some may say, “Sure, but the pollution-related death toll is going to rise as soon as production ramps up again,” or “Yeah, but how many will now die of poverty?” This brings us to the next positive outcome of the Coronavirus.
3. Increased Awareness
The current COVID-19 crisis is forcing us all to take a good hard look at our current systems and our human society as a whole. A critical analysis of the areas in which our society fails and succeeds is long overdue. Now, people are considering not only how such pandemics can be prevented in the future, but also how we can prevent devastating effects that any future crisis may bring. We’ve now all been reminded of what’s truly essential to an individual’s and society’s survival, bringing us to our next positive effect.
4. Evolving Consumer Consciousness
Now that we all recognize what we truly need, we’re also quickly realizing how much we actually don’t need at all. When putting together your quarantine shopping list, it’s highly unlikely that you included a new pair of shoes that will go perfectly with that one outfit you’ve never worn. Instead, you were most likely going for filling foods that will last a long time and, of course, toilet paper. All jokes aside, the current crisis is bringing about a much needed shift in consumerist thinking that will [hopefully] not only bring about less pollution and unnecessary waste of resources, but also more fulfilling lifestyles.
5. Bringing Out the Best in People
A few exceptions aside, this current crisis is really showing us what we’re made of. People are coming together like never before to help each other out and look out for those who are at a higher risk than others. For example, people are running errands and grocery shopping on behalf of the elderly or sick without expecting payment in return. Others are volunteering to help medical facilities in any way they can, even though they risk exposing themselves to the virus. These are only two examples of the countless ways that human beings are showing their true nature. Humans have survived the millennia by working together and looking out for one another. Selflessness and cooperation is the recipe for success now and in the future.
6. Recognition of Our Individual Influence
Most people love to say things like, “Yeah, but what can I do? I’m only one person”, when deflecting responsibility for a problem that is aflicting our society. However, the current situation has caused us to truly realize just how much influence we have over the world around us. The same domino effect that results from a single person ignoring the call for social distancing, and consequently causing hundreds or even thousands of new infections, occurs conversely when we change our behavior in other ways. Every person minimizing contact with others is potentially saving countless lives. One person only buying enough food to cover his current needs is essentially feeding multiple families by leaving enough for the rest of us. It is our hope that we will all carry this lesson with us and use it to build a better future.
7. Rethinking Travel and Transportation
Airplanes, cruise ships and cargo ships are massive polluters. However, most people never realized the scale on which these industries operate until now. The rapid rate at which this virus has spread, coupled with worldwide travel restrictions, has now helped us better understand this scale. “Normal” activities like ordering an item online, taking a weekend trip or even just driving to work everyday never seemed like they could have much of an impact until nobody was able to do them anymore. Only now have many of us realized just how much we all contribute to each of these industries. The current situation has helped us realize that we need to implement better solutions to cover our personal and professional needs, so that we are not as dependent on things that can massively disrupt our well-being if they are suddenly no longer available.
8. Rethinking Society
We are a very well connected planet, but many of our practices are outdated. In fact, the current standstill on transportation alone has proven to us that it’s not always necessary to be physically present. We don’t always have to hop in a plane or take a car to a meeting that can be done via teleconference online. Office jobs don’t actually have to be done in an office. School lessons can even be taught online. None of these things are new, but our society is quite new to them. We are hopeful that having our worlds turned upside down by the current crisis will not only be the proof we need, but also the push we needed to finally move our society into the future with sustainability, technology and the well-being of people at the forefront.
Do you have some positive experiences to share? We’d love to read about them! Leave a comment and keep spreading positivity!
About the Authors
Ryne Cook and Denise Braun have been traveling the world their entire lives. They were on an 8-month world trip when the COVID-19 outbreak started, but were able to make an emergency trip home just before travel restrictions would have prevented it. The constant negative news about the Coronavirus inspired them to write this article on positive takeaways from the pandemic.