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Modern life with a smaller ecological footprint is possible and real

Prof. Dejan Mirakovski
Faculty of Natural and Technical Sciences, UGD-Shtip

This pandemic clearly showed the insufficient investments made in science and scientific research, primarily on a global, but also on national level. Therefore, many questions in terms of effective protection of the human health and the environment remained unanswered. At the same time, the pandemic has exacerbated the effects of isolationism and protectionism, leaving smaller and poorer countries on the waiting list for possible solutions. Hence, priority should be the strengthening of national capacities in certain sectors, including development of specialized scientific centers, which would be vital for a quick and efficient response to new challenges.

Nature is all we have

In the future, we will definitely appreciate the healthy environment, the natural, but also our immediate urban environment. Even the relatively short period of limitation of anthropogenic activities as a result of the pandemic, has resulted in revitalization and improvement of the quality of the environment, which in itself shows that with a little effort from all of us, but also with a very honest approach to nature around us, we can permanently restore its former splendor, and the modern way of life does not have to be associated with its senseless destruction. Especially considering the fact that air is the medium through which viruses are transmitted, and polluted air has been linked by some studies to higher mortality from viral infection, I believe that the notion of clean and healthy air in homes, schools, kindergartens and public buildings in general will have a whole new meaning.

Only with intensive implementation of the defined strategies and realization of the measures we can reduce or completely solve the problems in this area. Given the situation, significant investments in the area of waste management, water and air protection are more than necessary and they should start immediately. But, realistically speaking, I am pessimistic in this regard because the economic problems that have arisen as a result of the pandemic can very easily result in a drastic reduction of investments in this area in the short and medium term.

The science provides solutions

We definitely need more and better science. Multidisciplinary scientific research is needed, aimed at solving specific problems, which step by step will create conditions for a safer and healthier world, globally and locally.

For example, research on air quality in homes, hospitals, kindergartens and schools; mass and number concentration of aero-salts indoors, as well as detailed analysis of their composition, especially of bio-aerosols (pollen, spores, bacteria and viruses); levels of realistic personal exposure, effectiveness of protection measures, such as masks or filters. Effective measures be predicted and implemented only if we have good information. The drastic improvements in air quality in the urban and industrialized zones of the world, as a result of the restriction of the human activities during the pandemic, clearly indicate that a modern life with a far smaller ecological footprint is possible and quite real. We only need better organization, application of new technological solutions in all areas and, of course, readiness to participate in those changes.

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