China vs. World. Pollution vs. Depollution

João Pedro Costa, Portugal – 18 years old

Since November 2019, COVID-19 has strongly hit China and, shortly after, the whole world. Portugal was one of the affected countries. Europe even more. The USA even more than Europe. An epidemic that quickly became a pandemic changed the behavior of almost everyone.

This situation could be a war involving human beings with whom one could fight. But, as at various times in the history of antiquity, it is a war that cannot be controlled or attacked. But “heroes without a cape” appear all over the globe.

Caricature of Rodrigo de Matos, alluding to the impact of Covid-19 on the World Economy. Source: Semanário Expresso 1

An economic crisis was already expected to hit the entire world. The only thing that was not expected was that it was housed with the coronavirus or COVID-19. The “little” virus only appears in front of the monster of the Economic Crisis that appears caricatured by Rodrigo de Matos in the 2474 edition of March 28th, 2020, of the newspaper Expresso – Economic Notebook. All countries are making an effort to control the virus, for the benefit of their populations, but they also carry the burden of economic strain that will harm almost the entire world population. Portugal will be no exception.

However, in the area of environmental health and society, not everything is bad. In a map presented by the “Diário de Notícias”, it is observed that the pollution levels of the two countries that are located in the Iberian Peninsula have dropped dramatically. This happens as a result of the mandatory and voluntary confinement of the populations, imposed by several world leaders. With people at home, fewer transport journeys are made. Fewer people consume services such as having lunch or having a drink on the street. All of this has implications for the use of the resources of planet Earth and all countries.

Comparison of Pollution levels in the Iberian Peninsula – March 2019 / March 2020 – Source: DN 2

In China, more precisely in the area of the virus’s epicenter and its surroundings, carbon dioxide values have dropped dramatically. A scenario never seen before. At this time, the pressure that human beings put on planet Earth is verified and verified, has a full impact on the phenomenon called “climate change”.

Since 2001, with the entry of China into the World Trade Organization and the result of globalization, the levels of pollution have increased. Not only for the high production of goods and services, but also the abrupt growth of the Chinese population. Currently, the “one-child law” no longer applies in China (abolished in 2013, but with benefits for families with up to two children). All of these factors contributed to years with high levels of pollution in the country. India is another example, very similar. Despite having more decadent conditions, the result of not sharing the same regime as China.

Comparison of Pollution levels in China- January-February 2019 / January-February 2020 – Source: DN3

In other words, this time becomes crucial for the implementation of beneficial measures for Mother Nature in the future. To move factories with cheap labor and high values of Carbon Dioxide, to countries where this is not allowed or is regulated. It is essential to abandon the use of toxic products for the entire population and the environment (many of them produced in China). Several companies are already starting to follow this path. What is not known is whether the objective is environmental enhancement. But it is also up to people to decide what to buy and to analyze which products are beneficial for their portfolio, but also the environment. In this time of crisis that is coming with great impact, it is up to each citizen to choose, more than ever, the products and services he wants to purchase. It is now time to start a new world. A world of easier choices (powered by companies) and with a stable cost-benefit ratio.

China, willingly or not, spurred a movement in the world. It is up to all human beings to decide to continue polluting the environment or to adopt measures of an environmental nature, presenting a model of “a green land”, in which one starts again, right after the end of the pandemic or, at least, control of the same. This height thus contributes to new thoughts, new forms of economics, and new forms of international relations, in the way that all countries interact with each other.

1 Semanário Expresso. March 28th, 2020

2 Gonçalves, Sandra. 2020. “Na Véspera do Apagão, poluição na Europa cai significativamente.”Diário de Notícias. March 27th, 2020.

3 Diário de Notícias. “NASA mostra como a drasticamente na China depois do vírus.” March 01st, 2020.

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