We’ve all experienced exhaustion and overwhelming feelings over the past few months due to the current pandemic. We’ve had to greatly adjust our lifestyles in order to ensure safety for ourselves and others. This includes changing our work environments from large offices or businesses to working at home or in smaller groups. In addition to that, schools have shut down for unimaginable periods of time, forcing parents to think back to middle school math class where they learned the most unused and complicated skills ever. That’s probably one of the most difficult parts of being quarantined with your kids… no wonder alcoholic beverage sales jumped 55% in only the third week of March (compared to the same time a year ago!)
So we’ve changed our work styles, our educational system, half the country is in dire need of a hair cut, and local businesses are pushing to find any way possible to attract customers (like outdoor seating.) Yeah, all of this has really sucked. But, our environment has actually really appreciated the decrease in human interaction.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Have Decreased
According to Rob Lempert (principal researcher at RAND Corp.), there has been a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in cleaner air, in China.
Emissions from coal combustion have fallen in China which has improved air quality and reduced the amount of airborne pollutants. These harmful pollutants include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and many nitrous oxides as well.
Air pollution has significantly dropped in China, where scientists observed a decrease in nitrogen dioxide emissions. More specifically, the largest drops in greenhouse gas emissions (or any polluting gas emission) has been seen in Wuhan, China. This city began their lock down in January 2020 and is controversially still under order, but it’s resulted in a 10-30% drop in greenhouse gas emissions.
There’s also been a reduction of nitrogen dioxide emissions in Northern Italy, which was locked down due to COVID-19. In addition to Italy, France has also experienced cleaner air from less pollution.
Scientists have even claimed that New York City is somewhat cleaner in air pollutants like carbon monoxide and methane (an observed 5-10% drop.) Given that traffic levels have been down, carbon monoxide emissions have significantly dropped in result. In relation to traffic levels on the road, air travel has also experienced a decrease in traffic levels. More specifically, in regions like Europe, 67 million fewer passengers were recorded to fly in the first three months of 2020. Therefore, allowing less air pollution to be created by planes.
Cleaner Water in Venice (or potentially everywhere?)
According to http://www.interestingengineering.org, the waters of Venice have been reported to be clean “once again!” This positive outcome could be due to the decrease in tourists or motorboats that are responsible for allowing pollutants to enter the water. People have even claimed that fish can be seen again, which gives hope to the potential of a better and cleaner marine life in the future of Venice waters.
Giving an ecosystem time to rebuild and grow on its own is important and valuable, but it’s hardly ever possible. Habitats are consistently and negatively impacted by humans and suffer greatly because of it. For example, sea turtles normally require a dark place for nesting. However, when beaches are polluted with light, it creates an uncomfortable and inefficient habitat for them. This results in a negative impact; disorientation of hatchlings, leading them inland where they’ll often die from predation or dehydration.
You see how humans can have a huge impact on a species without even realizing?
Less Commercial Energy Being Used
Since our workplaces and schools are mostly shut down, we’ve all been staying at home for most of our day. And since businesses and schools use up so much energy, it truly creates a big impact on the environment when that energy decreases.
Due to this majority of commercial and educational buildings being shut down, there’s a big increase in domestic energy. This is the energy we use at home, AKA, the energy we’ve used for the past few months! Instead of producing or using an abundance of commercial energy from large offices or buildings, we’ve begun to adjust to a more environmentally friendly source, domestic energy.
According to http://www.interestingengineering.org, the use of commercial energy should be expected to plummet by as much as a quarter to 30%.
According to a fascinating study reported by Euronews.com and explained on http://www.theguardian.com, COVID-19 could potentially be clinging onto polluted air particles. Obviously this isn’t a proven theory but it’s definitely worth thinking about. It’s suggested that polluted air particles could help the virus travel further in the air. Although air pollution can not be held responsible for the travels of COVID-19 right now, it has been claimed to likely have carried other viruses like the measles or bird flu.
Air pollution could act as a highway for the epidemic.EuroNews.com
How can we use this information to promote a cleaner, and safer future environment?
These previously stated environmental impacts, resulting from the pandemic, are being greatly observed. Therefore, it’s reasonable to consider how we could use this experience to continue a trend of decreased air pollution. RAND corporation suggests that the future will contain less air travel, which would help reduce gas emissions. Another idea sprouts from the adjustment of working from home; since we’re not driving as much, gas emissions could be reduced.
Perhaps rather than pushing funding towards corporations or businesses that require factories that emit tons of gas emissions, we should push funds towards industries using green energy or develop new ways to incorporate green energy into common workplaces.
Some researchers and scientists have claimed that although these reduced emissions are great and beneficial, it’s unlikely for this trend to continue in the future. Our carbon dioxide levels have built up immensely over decades; therefore, they’re not likely to just return to the satisfactory level.
However, once the pandemic is over, it’s important to reflect on our environment and how humans have significantly impacted ecosystems around the world. We should begin to consider more solutions to air pollution, since we’ve witnessed a real decrease during this pandemic. Climate change is and has been an issue for many recent years and it won’t be going away any time soon. Therefore, it’s now time to come together and create more environmentally friendly lifestyles.
People developed so much fear and panic once the virus came into their lives. It seriously made people think twice about how they’re living and look deeper into how different things are now becoming. Climate change is not very different than a random virus traveling around the world causing commotion. Except, it’s not random and for some reason, it doesn’t cause the commotion it deserves.
Climate change has been talked about, but not emphasized. It’s touched upon in school but no one actually pays attention during those lectures. It’s time to start emphasizing and start paying attention. Will people take that same fear, panic, or concern that they had with the Coronavirus with an equally important global issue, like climate change?
The technology is here. The people are ready. Scientists have spoken. Progressive businesses are stepping forward. Now we need governments to take climate action!– WWF International
Thanks For Reading!
We need significant changes to address the climate problem that increases everywhere all around the world. So yes, this affects you! Or it’ll effect your kids, or their kids, or their kids! The time is now to take action for our environment so the people we love will grow up knowing that we decided to #BeTheChange.
Please contact me via email or social media with any questions, comments, or concerns regarding climate change or action!
Sources used :