By Ayodhya Krishani Amarajeewa

The environmental degradation has caused extreme weathers across the planet. Deforestation enforced heard migration destabilizing the human –human, animal-human and animal –animal contact reflects the extent to which the world is impacted by humans’ extreme actions. The increasing heat in the planet forces animals to flock in much colder geographical areas risking the possibility of spreading new types of pathogens. These extreme weather conditions highlight that climate change is the most formidable challenge for the mankind. Yet, in the present context, the coronavirus pandemic has become the most immediate and decisive challenge to humanity, with many people falling victim to COVID-19 virus. Tracing the linkages between these two challenges is fundamental to adopt more effective and comprehensive responses.

The health impact of climate change could be at dangerously high levels if there is a possibility to influence the spread of pathogens. It is still not identified whether climate change directly impacts the spread of coronavirus but it is understood that there could be a co-relation. The danger is when and if one of these reinforces the other threat. For example, the poor air quality, which is one of the main causes of climate change, has a direct link to COVID-19 deaths. The poor air quality can kill more people during coronavirus infection finds the research done by Rachel Nethery, Xiauo Wu, Francesca Dominici and other colleagues at Harvard University.

Both climate change and the pandemic have two things in common, both of these threats do not consider any social or political boundaries and, COVID 19 pandemic and climate change reflect the man-made chaos in the natural environment. When the coronavirus led the world for prolonged lockdowns, its economic, political and social impact made us rethink our development strategies and priorities. The human inactivity during lockdown across the world, regenerated the dying natural environment, restored air quality and the environment got space and time to heal. This is similar to how climate change taught the world the lesson through the manifestation of extreme weathers requiring us to change the course of humans’ actions.

There is a common understanding that when people go to extremes, there is a way the nature punishes them. Is the coronavirus pandemic and climate change teaching us the humans a lesson to rethink our behaviour?

Ayodhya Krishani Amarajeewa is the Research cum Information Officer at RCSS. She has a MA in Peace and Conflict studies from the United Nations mandated University for Peace, Costa Rica.