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OP-ED: The great equalizer

  • Published at 12:34 am December 15th, 2020
Air Pollution-Dhaka
File photo shows a glimpse of air pollution in Dhaka Mehedi Hasan

Covid-19 has emerged as an ultimatum for humanity to correct its wrongs

The entire human race is now united, not out of mutual love and compassion, but because of the pandemic, which makes everyone vulnerable. The crippling virus infects people of all ages, colours, religions, and social classes. As humans have long been engrossed in corruption, discrimination, pollution, and other atrocities, the coronavirus has possibly emerged as the last warning for humanity. 

Corruption remains at its peak but leaders and governments are unable to keep it in check, let alone stop it. According to the Global Corruption Perception Index 2019 released by the Berlin-based Transparency International, Bangladesh holds the 14th position among the most corrupt countries in the world. Among major issues of corruption, the banking sector is perhaps the biggest culprit.

While people are perhaps encountering their most difficult period in the last hundred years, the health care sector is still not free of corruption. The incidents of providing fake Covid-19 test reports by Regent Hospital and JKG Health Care, and supplying low quality N95 masks to government hospitals, leaves citizens dumbfounded.

More noticeably, have we considered that the human race is wantonly destroying the stability of the climate and the environment? The more the environmentalists warn us about climate change and pollution, the more oblivious we are to its consequences. 

Scientists have demonstrated that global temperature will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecast a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century, yet the human actions to tackle it are least conspicuous in many countries, including Bangladesh. 

Despite a devastating effect on business and the economy of the whole world, the coronavirus has played a key role in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and environmental pollution. China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, but the lockdown that kept the factories closed and cars off the road dropped the emission dramatically, with the nitrogen dioxide level falling to 40% between December and March. Scientists are seeing similar trends in Italy and major American cities. 

On top of that, pollution has minimized in Bangladesh too. According to a study released in Springer Nature (Switzerland) on September 5, levels of Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Sulfur dioxide (SO2 ) have dropped by 69% and 67% respectively in Dhaka, owing to lockdowns. It also explains that the average SO2 and NO2 concentrations decreased by 43% and 40% in the entire country due to the full and partial lockdown in Bangladesh. 

The global CO2 emissions have plummeted by roughly 5.5%, according to climate website Carbon Brief. Apart from this, scientists claim that biodiversity is declining faster than at any other time in human history. According to a UN report on biodiversity, about 1 million species are currently threatened with extinction causing an imbalance in the ecosystem.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. Covid-19, in that sense, is an eye-opener for all of us. We all have thought about life and death over the last few months and realized how vulnerable we are. When leaders and justice departments across the world have failed to minimize corruption, atrocity, and pollution, the coronavirus pandemic has brought everything to a halt, allowing humans to reconsider what they do, and how and why they do it.

It is a great opportunity for people and governments around the world to become more humane and think about the planet, environment, and other important things in life. Life is for living. We must find harmony with nature, and rethink how to do things differently, without impeding humans and the environment.  

It is time to wake up and be rectified. Despite anxiety and uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus, let us embrace this moment as an opportunity to move forward and make the world a better place to live in.

Mahde Hassan works as a faculty member of IELTS at Saifur’s Private Ltd. Email: [email protected]

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