The pandemic is one of many calamities of human origin. Air pollution is another and climate change is the mother of them all. Their immediate causes are different: CO2 emissions lead to climate change but CO2 doesn’t cause air pollution, and zoonotic diseases such as COVID19 have yet another etiology.
Digging a bit deeper reveals common causes. Fertilizer intensive farming as well as factory farming of animals are both major causes of climate change. The latter also causes of ecosystem collapse that leads to zoonotic diseases jumping from animals to humans. Commercial pressures that lead to mechanization and the drive to lower labour costs are major factor in stubble burning, which leads to air pollution.
It’s somewhat cliched to blame the system, but at the same time, it seems pretty clear that the globe spanning system we have created over the past seventy five years is the underlying cause of so many of our wicked problems.
While the impact of the system as a whole is both predictable and tragic, it’s always surprising to see when multiple factors come together in unexpected ways. For example, the West coast of India was recently hit by a major cyclone (traditionally, the Arabian sea didn’t see cyclones). How do people seek shelter from a cyclone during a pandemic? Or the increasing (but still anecdotal) evidence that pollution in North India has increased COVID morbidity because of the already damaged lungs of so many people who live there.