The coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it is now scientifically known, is considered one of the worst pandemics in modern history. Besides the toll it has had on human health and life, it has had a variety of negative impacts such as economic downfall, social disengagement, and political disagreements. However, there is actually an upside to the coronavirus. Due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 with many people quarantined in their homes, and the economy and industry basically shutting down, the environment has been impacted in positive ways.
According to interestingengineering.com, “One of the main impacts of the coronavirus outbreak has been a significant drop in air pollution in many parts of the world.” Many industrial countries like the United States or China have seen substantially fewer emissions from fossil fuel-powered vehicles and industrial plants. There are no people driving their cars; there are no airplanes flying in the sky. According to satellite data from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), the amount of polluting gases like nitrogen dioxide has decreased significantly. Also, since industries are shut down, there is less electricity being used by major factories and corporations. Fewer buildings have their lights on because just about everyone is at home. Also, with fewer people in places like universities and corporate office buildings, energy usage should go down between 25% and 30%. Much electricity comes from fossil fuel-powered power plants. The amount of coal used in China has dropped by 36% since the start of the coronavirus. With fewer emissions in the air, the air is cleaner and clearer. According to Deseret News, “Emissions data shows cleaner air over nearly every major metro area in the world.”
Another positive effect of the coronavirus on the environment is that the water is clearer and less polluted in cities like Venice, Italy. With everyone quarantined, there are no boats in the canals so the pollution in the dirt at the bottom is not getting stirred up. “As a consequence, the normally polluted waters of the canals are clearer than at any time many locals can remember,” according to France24.com. With no boats on the waters, there is no pollution being added to the already polluted water in Venice. According to Venice resident Serguei Michtchenk, "The canal is definitely clearer, you just have to look at the canal when water is very calm. There are no boats, there is no traffic. Definitely, it is cleaner.”
Since people are stuck at home, more animals are coming into urban areas and people’s back yards. In Wales, United Kingdom, herds of goats are going into the city. More people are seeing deer and foxes come into the city. According to euronews, “This government-imposed lockdown is indeed conducive to animals changing their habits to venture out.” Most people see wildlife, but there is a lot more of it since there are fewer people outside. People in cities and towns all over the world are hearing more birdsong. In Peru, where there are normally thousands of people on the beach of Auga Dulce, the beach is now taken over by thousands of birds!
Although lots of bad things have happened due to this pandemic, it is good to know that there are some positive effects. These effects may seem short-lived, but hopefully, after the pandemic, we can start to develop better habits for the environment. One wonders what positive environmental changes we have yet to come.
Story by Tate Lloyd