Will the Coronavirus Save the Planet from Destruction-Emre Güntekin

Will the Coronavirus Save the Planet from Destruction-Emre Güntekin
Will the Coronavirus Save the Planet from Destruction-Emre Güntekin

Ironically, the outbreak of the Covid-19, which is a result of the global ecological crisis, also offers clues fort he recovery of the ecological destruction. A study conducted by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air-CREA in February and updated in March reveals that the coronavirus epidemic positively affected air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions in China in a short time. According to the some data which stand out in a two-week period are as follows:

-Fossil fuel consumption in energy plants decreased by 36%.

-The operation rate of big steel producers decreased by more than 15%.

-Charcoal output fell 26%.

-NO2 rate decreased by 37% in satellite based measurements.

- Capacity utilization rate in oil refineries decreased by 34%.

On the other hand, with the decrease of international and domestic flights, the decline of human mobility, the decrease of productive activities in many sectors by 15-40%, a decline in the factors causing the destruction of nature was observed. With a calculation based on all these data, it is predicted that China's carbon emission will decrease by 25%. A similar situation was also observed in satellite images in the northern regions of Italy, that is the most industrialized area of the country. Another study conducted by CREA in March shows that in India, which is one of the countries where air pollution is the most intense in the world, the lowest traffic-induced air pollution has been experienced with the lockdown.

The drop in the above graph NO2 sheds light on the amount of NO2 decreasing due to the coronavirus. Especially in the past years in India, this stood out as a major health problem: 350,000 child asthma and 16,000 premature births per year.


In a study by Dr Marshall Burke from Stanford University, it is stated that despite the catastrophic effect of the corona virus, due to the reduction in air pollution so far; 20 times more lives than those who died from the virus may have been saved. Especially the lives of 4,000 children under the age of 5 and 73,000 people over the age of 70.

To give a more popular example… In Italy, which is one of the top contries badly affected from the Covid-19 epidemic, fish, dolphins and swans returned to Venice's canals, with the cessation of tourist flow and lockdowns.


These facts reveal how capitalism, which encompasses our lives and the planet, put pressure on nature. With the mainly capitalist economies of the northern hemisphere temporarily curtailing productive activities to stop the virus outbreak, with the fact that individual vehicles, which are the most unsuccessful forms of transportation modern times, are pulled from the streets of the cities and the consumption decreases due to the precautions taken, we have the chance to see the self-recovery capacity of the nature even in the current situation.

Of course, it is just a pause in this ecological crisis, and what caused this hesitation is a deadly pandemic, which humanity is likely to encounter continuously from now on. Previous experience  similar to this happened in the 2008 crisis. With the decline in economic capacity and international trade in the industy during the crisis, global greenhouse gas emissions had decreased, but the production has re-accelerated within a few years after the crisis. It is possible to make a similar prediction today. If the pandemic is stopped in the short term and a solution can be brought to the disease, the dynamics that cause the ecological crisis will inevitably begin to rework. From where we left off, we will continue to bear the burden of the deadly costs of capitalism on humanity. Perhaps humanity should see this warning, which comes with the coronavirus, as a starting point for the search for an alternative to the system that overcomes crises every time. Of course, we cannot expect our planet to recover itself thanks to the crisis such as epidemics or a slow down of the economy. As a matter of fact, while these processes threaten human existence, on the other hand, they condemn millions of people to unemployment and poverty, as we see today  and during the 2008 crisis. According to the ILO statement in March, 25 million people worldwide are in danger of losing their job due to the economies that have stopped due to the coronavirus epidemic.

So no one would prefer the planet to be left alone with such a "salvation" scenario. There is a key in the hands of the lower classes that will save humanity from extinction and allow nature to recover itself. Preventing the enormous productive power of humanity from mobilizing for the ambition of profit and accumulation of the one percent of the population, and, alternatively, to build an egalitarian society that eliminates brutal exploitation of human labor and the limitless destruction of nature! Mobilizing the resources that the capitalist system devotes to luxury consumption to glory and progress- around a production model based on the needs of humanity! The most important thing is to take the material ground under the dominant idea that nature is an unlimited consumption area, instead, to establish a civilization that eliminates the alienation of humanity from nature and re-inscribe that both are an inseparable whole!

The power to accomplish this is not from the coronavirus, from the organized working class.