Of Rain and Rainbows: An Observation of the Positive Impacts of COVID-19 by Ashley Pannell

Of Rain and Rainbows: An Observation of the Positive Impacts of COVID-19 by Ashley Pannell

 

“Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain. But you can’t have a rainbow, without a little rain.”

A little corny, I’ll admit, and not of my invention, but it gets the point across: you cannot go through life experiencing only good times. There has to be some darkness as well. And we’ve had a lot of darkness recently.

COVID-19, or Coronavirus, has spread across the globe and claimed the lives of thousands and though things seem to be getting better now, it’s hard to imagine that they will ever truly be the same. Although this bought of darkness has brought more than its fair share of horror, there are some changes that we can be thankful for. For one, this pandemic has given us a deeper appreciation for the NHS and key workers that we should not be forgetting any time soon. For years, these organisations have been underappreciated and subjected to many budget cuts or abuse from the general public and government organisations. [1] It’s important that we remember the key part they all played during this difficult whilst we move forward.

There’s also been a notable decrease in pollution due to the shutting of factories in accordance to COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, had this much to say on the matter: “Scientists have warned of increased risk of more pandemics from the destruction of nature, rampant deforestation, intensive farming, mining, global air travel as well as exploitation of wild animals... But lockdowns around the world have pressed pause on much environmental destruction. The International Energy Agency has calculated that the fall in energy demand as a result of the corona shock could see an 8% decline in carbon emissions.” [2] The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) have also revealed another positive change due to lockdown: “The measures to combat the coronavirus have led to an approximately 40% reduction in average level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution and 10% reduction in average level of particulate matter pollution over the past 30 days, resulting in 11,000 avoided deaths from air pollution.” [3] This shows that although the coronavirus lockdown is not to be celebrated, as it was something done out of necessity, it has nonetheless yielded some positive results in regards to our environment, though it is important to note that there is still much be done to combat the levels of pollution in the world.

Lockdown itself has presented us with some upsides, including the ability to be able to spend more time together. Before lockdown, it was very easy to be too busy to be able to spend any quality time with family but now we’ve had the opportunity to connect with one other, something psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer says will have beneficial effects: “New babies and young children whose parents are now working from home, or have been furloughed, will benefit enormously from having both parents available during so many months of their formative years... benefits will range from parents being more supportive of each other, children feeling more secure with both parents and the family unit being strengthened.”[4] In troubled times, it’s important to have family members to lean on and though this is hardly ideal, for every cloud, there is a silver lining and the opportunity to spend time with family is definitely one.

It’s also given us time to do very little and not feel guilty about it. In our modern-day world, everything is faster than ever, and there is always something to do or something to be done. There tends to be a lot of pressure on individuals to participate in some kind of activity, whether it’s work, or going out with friends, and so people worried about the implications of not be able to do these things in lockdown. However, lockdown has given us the perfect opportunity to do things we previously never had time to do. For some of us, this meant binging that one series our friend told us about but we never had time for, or reading the book we bought at the airport but never got round to. For others, it’s been slightly more productive and just as rewarding. Tom Hodgkinson, Editor of The Idler, writes: “People have been getting out into the garden and nurturing plants. They've been catching up on DIY jobs around the house. They've been reading novels. Baking bread. Learning the old-fashioned arts of self-sufficiency.” [5] Whilst the circumstances certainly aren’t desirable, it’s good to know that at least there has been some comfort to be found during these times.

When lockdown was announced, for many people it meant the introduction of Working From Home, and though it hasn’t been without its downsides (some people tend to work better in a workplace environment – I have to admit I am one such person), this switch has also had some pretty positive results, as Jo Wimble-Groves, tech entrepreneur, details: “Friends I have spoken to say they are actually working harder. Some say they are more productive as they are taking more breaks from their screens. Many are getting more exercise outside which in turn is improving their overall health.” [6] It’s thrilling to see that even in the face of such adversity, we can find the upsides in what is happening to us, adapting to unpreceded situations, allowing us to thrive under new and difficult circumstances. It’s difficult to say what this will mean for us moving forward, but most can assume that there will be a stronger emphasis on working from home, as there are many benefits to such a scheme, including: “fewer distractions from the traditional workforce, contributing to higher efficiency, lower stress and increased morale.” [7] I feel it’s a valuable approach to working that cannot be forgotten once things return to normal – or, however close to normal life can get.

Therefore, I would like to conclude this article with some words of encouragement. Although the situation has been a brutal blow to us all and had a number of different impacts on our lives, I would like to encourage us all to remain strong, for even in the face of such hardship, we’ve still managed to find some good in the world and I fully believe that this experience will help us move forward to a better future, where we appreciate the key workers who have risked so much for us, where we take responsibility and combat the damage we continue to do our environment, where we learn to appreciate family and make sure we all have a genuine work-life balance and where we recognise that new ways of working need not be bad ways. Going forward, it’s important we remember these things and ensure they re not taken for granted. We’ve seen a lot of darkness recently, its true. But this proves that we can still have hope too. Hope for the future and that we can make it better, because we’ve been through the dark times and we’ve survived. After all; what’s the point in a rainbow if it doesn’t have a little rain?

 

Sources

  1. Bartley, Jonathan, Coronavirus: Environmental destruction 'paused' by lockdown measures, Sky News (7th May 2020), <https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-enviromental-destuction-paused-by-lockdown-measures-11982992> [accessed 12th June 2020].
  2. Gummer, Amanda, Coronavirus: Why spending so much time with our children could have unexpected benefits, Sky News (4th May 2020), <https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-how-lockdown-life-could-benefit-some-families-11981855> [accessed 10th June, 2020].
  3. Hodgkinson, Tom, Coronavirus: How lockdown has given us more time for life's simple pleasures, Sky News (6th May 2020), <https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-how-lockdown-has-given-us-more-time-for-lifes-simple-pleasures-11983585> [accessed 11th June 2020].
  4. Myllyvirta, Lauri, 11,000 air pollution-related deaths avoided in Europe as coal, oil consumption plummet, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (30th April 2020), <https://energyandcleanair.org/air-pollution-deaths-avoided-in-europe-as-coal-oil-plummet/> [accessed 12th June 2020].
  5. The NHS Budget and how it has changed, The King’s Fund (13th March 2020), <https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/nhs-in-a-nutshell/nhs-budget> [accessed 9th June 2020].
  6. Wimble-Groves, Jo, Coronavirus: Working from home is here to stay - and it might do us all good, Sky News (8th May 2020), <https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-working-from-home-is-here-to-stay-and-it-might-do-us-all-good-11984127> [accessed 11th June 2020].

 

[1] The NHS Budget and how it has changed, The King’s Fund (13th March 2020), <https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/nhs-in-a-nutshell/nhs-budget> [accessed 9th June 2020], para. 5 of 5.

 

[2] Jonathan Bartley, Coronavirus: Environmental destruction 'paused' by lockdown measures, Sky News (7th May 2020), <https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-enviromental-destuction-paused-by-lockdown-measures-11982992> [accessed 12th June 2020], para. 5 of 24.

[3] Lauri Myllyvirta, 11,000 air pollution-related deaths avoided in Europe as coal, oil consumption plummet, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (30th April 2020), <https://energyandcleanair.org/air-pollution-deaths-avoided-in-europe-as-coal-oil-plummet/> [accessed 12th June 2020], para. 1 of 7.

[4] Amanda Gummer, Coronavirus: Why spending so much time with our children could have unexpected benefits, Sky News (4th May 2020), <https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-how-lockdown-life-could-benefit-some-families-11981855> [accessed 10th June, 2020], para. 5 of 23.

 

[5] Tom Hodgkinson, Coronavirus: How lockdown has given us more time for life's simple pleasures, Sky News (6th May 2020), <https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-how-lockdown-has-given-us-more-time-for-lifes-simple-pleasures-11983585> [accessed 11th June 2020], para. 13 of 26.

 

[6] Jo Wimble-Groves, Coronavirus: Working from home is here to stay - and it might do us all good, Sky News (8th May 2020), <https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-working-from-home-is-here-to-stay-and-it-might-do-us-all-good-11984127> [accessed 11th June 2020], para. 13 of 29.

 

[7] Ibid., para. 21 of 29.