There are very few positives that come with a pandemic. COVID-19 has impacted the lives of countless people, stirring changes in the economy and education system, all while opening people’s eyes up to flaws in the way the world works. As the canals in Venice are clearing up and greenhouse gas emissions are dropping globally, the effect of the coronavirus on the environment is evident. It is also more evident now than ever that humans are the root cause of many issues surrounding climate change.
The unfortunate truth is that once the stay-at-home orders are lifted and people start returning to their everyday lives, any temporary relief the planet held during this time period will be gone. That is why it is such a pivotal time for change to occur, especially with all the problems being displayed in full view.
People have described the pandemic as a time for the Earth to “breathe” for once. At this point, most factories have closed, flights have canceled until further notice, and a new record low has been set for traffic. Once non-essential businesses and locations started closing, everyone’s biggest concern was safety. It was not until a couple weeks into isolation that people began to notice the environmental changes in the world around them.
Environmentalists and scientists are taking this unexpected opportunity to shine light on the serious and deadly effects of climate change and are working to create more permanent changes after the pandemic boils over. Even though under drastic circumstances, the world was able to make the adjustments needed to protect its people from the virus, which illustrates that the same can be done for climate change.
As the world outside changes, people’s lifestyles at home have also been modified. People are taking fewer trips with their cars, going on more frequent walks, being more conscious of the food they are buying and consuming, and overall practicing cleaner and safer habits.
However, it is not realistic to expect everyone to continue practicing these habits after the virus dies down. It is also not reasonable for all the planes in the world to stay landed, or factories to stay closed forever. Scientists are just hoping that at least a fraction of the population becomes more self-aware of their decisions and recognizes how it impacts the environment so they can continue to see more positive changes.
There is no question that COVID-19 has left an impact on the environment, whether it be long-lasting or not. In New York, the level of pollution has decreased by 50% compared to this time last year, and emissions in China fell 25% at the start of the new year. All over the globe there are various stories of an improvement in air quality and wild animals coming out for a rare sighting. Nevertheless, it still took a threat as large and immediate as the pandemic for these changes to occur. Climate change has been going on for decades, and it has proven to be a struggle for scientists to convince the government of making the necessary changes.
It is important to mention that the effects of the pandemic are a different story in itself. The unemployment rates have been record high, and the number of cases and deaths have only been rising since the beginning. Countless people are suffering and everyone is struggling with something different. At a time like this, people are encouraged to be mindful of others and to take care of themselves while practicing the necessary safety policies put in place.