5 Environmental Effects of COVID-19

Even the gravest of occurrences have some silver linings, and COVID-19, in all of its dreariness, has been pretty good to Mother Earth. There have been some negative drawbacks, but on the whole, the environment is one thing that has actually been positively affected by the novel coronavirus. Stay-at-home orders mean less cars on the road, and social distancing means less people at national parks and beaches in need of a good cleaning. A study now published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal went as far as to say, “In China alone, all of these air quality improvements that have outnumbered confirmed [COVID-19-related] deaths thus far.”

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Here is a closer look at 5 positive environmental impacts caused by COVID-19.

1. Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure

With many citizens greatly limiting their travel, cities and states alike have been upgrading their transportation systems (trains, cars, planes, etc.). At a quick glance, a reasonable response to that would be, “Nice, better roads,” but fortunately, with advances in infrastructure resilient to climate change, it also means structures made with environmentally friendly materials, reduced waste, and made renewable-resource-ready, depending on the locale.

Some jurisdictions with a bit less of a “convinced” mindset towards climate change do, however, have a lot of legal loopholes in place regarding renewable energy, but at least making structures ready to switch power when the law allows is something to breath easy about (literally).

2. Lowered Emissions

As touched on in the intro, limited travel and social distancing have been large parts of increased air quality across the globe. Even NASA satellites have produced photographic evidence of less smog in urban areas.

As many large businesses in these large cities are becoming aware of the positive effects (both socially and monetarily) of corporate social responsibility, it’s also reasonable to think that many corporations will take into account all of the positives that come with remote work, and maximize opportunities do so in a world where going green is as good for the trees as it is the bottom line.

3. Moral Awareness / Disaster Relief

Most natural disasters affect those who can actually see the destruction first-hand much more deeply than people who just see pictures and videos. With a truly global pandemic affecting everyone on Earth, the overall will to “help a neighbor” has been tried and true during the COVID-19 wave. Some places just had much better disaster preparedness practices than others, and where there were shortages in one area, and excess in another, the right moves were made.

Only time will tell if optimism turns to reality, but thinking that the global reach of this disaster and the “all in this together” mantra will lead to more disaster relief for issues some people may not be familiar with (hurricanes, tornados, famine, earthquakes, etc.) is definitely beyond reasonable.

4. Clean Beaches

Over the last 10 years, roughly 60 million Americans visit a beach per year. Couple that with coastal population booms, and it’s safe to say the sand in the United States gets a lot of foot traffic. Though the lack of tourism certainly hurt the economy, it gave the beaches a long overdue break, resulting in massive decreases in coastal pollution, deep beach cleans by locals, and increases in water quality.

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5. A Little Bad with the Good

With closures of schools and a lot of work places, brought with it closures of some recycling centers, resulting in a lot of recyclables being trashed. The increases in online deliveries are certainly sensible, but they, too, added to an uptick in waste production, due to packaging. Additionally, medical waste (including masks and gloves) experienced a steady uptick as well.

Ultimately, the environmental effects of COVID-19 are things we can take a bit of resolve in, as pretty much everything else has been affected negatively by the pandemic. Increases in air and water quality should continue to be steady, new infrastructure with renewable resources now exist and just need some legislative boosts in areas, a lot of public places that needed a good cleaning have gotten it, and the only negatives on this list involve human actions that can be adjusted, moving forward.

5 Ways on How To Prepare Your Business For Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, and floods come with a lot of collateral damage which affects homes and infrastructure. They also affect our businesses, which are sources of livelihood for many.

Imagine building your enterprise from the ground up, only for it to be dissipated in hours or seconds by the freaks of nature! So how can you prepare your business to weather the storm in the face of a sudden natural disaster? Here’s my ‘Hitchhiker’s guide’ to business disaster preparedness.

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Safety Protocols

All lives matter, human resource is the backbone of any business. So having Standard Operating-Procedures(S0Ps) for disaster preparedness can mitigate any occupational risks during such times.

Simulating disaster drills can also go a long way in disaster preparedness if employees know emergency exits and evacuation protocols. Keeping a well-equipped disaster kit is commended too, and it should come complete with survival supplies for at least 3 days.

Data Backup

Yes backups are quite the norm now. But having a ‘backup’ of your backup is advisable. Having an extra digital location where your most sensitive documents, emails as well as digital records and databases are stored.

This can allow you to switch to a ‘virtual business’ till the dust settles and enable you to work and deliver remotely.It gives your business a much needed lifeline as virtual records can help in the rebuilding process a lot. Be sure that your backups are done frequently and can be automated.

Insurance Cover

Get yourself flood insurance if your geographic code is prone to weather disasters. The average flood insurance policy costs about $800 and most Insurance companies now offer business interruption policies, property as well as disaster packages at good premiums.

Statistics show that 2 in 5 businesses open after natural disaster. So, to help alleviate the hustles of reopening, insurance could come in handy.I’d advise you take time to meet your insurance agent to ponder over business insurance covers.

Infrastructure Precautions

Considering the barrage of destruction Hurricane Harvey brought on the Texas Gulf-Coast causing property damage of up to $80bn, certain measures and precautions can’t be ignored. This is especially so when it comes to the resilience and structural safety of your work premise. Be sure to do a structural audit on your location and assess any possibilities of vulnerability.

Do take time to verify that your business location meets specified building codes. Also surely endeavor to test and service the premise emergency generator under load. If weather disaster strikes, do make an effort to use protective material such as plywood to seal off windows. You can also secure first floor doorways with sandbags while relocating your most sensitive office equipment to innermost portions of the building.

Emergency Savings

An Indian friend told me once “In India we save for a rainy day, because it basically rains every day”. That could explain why many Asians are good at saving because they understand that nature can’t be negotiated with.

As a rule of thumb, it’s advisable for businesses to save 20% of their profit per month into an ‘Emergency Trust’. On top of the insurance monies or low interest loans from the Office of Disaster-Assistance, this money can reduce the burden of loss of assets on your business.

We saw the adverse effects of Hurricane Katrina on employment and the New Orleans economy, they can still be felt 13 years later. Bad news never has good timing and at times one can never be too prepared. However, if you take the above precautions chances of salvaging your business are way better.