COVID-19’s Environmental Impact

COVID-19%27s+Environmental+Impact

© The New Yorker

Elizabeth Wolfe, Staff

 
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Coronavirus has proven itself to be one of the most dangerous and life-altering global illnesses in recent history. It has caused school closures, economic shutdowns, self-isolation, and general fear and uncertainty in society. However, are all of the effects of coronavirus detrimental? 

Many communities globally have “shut down,” resulting in a substantial decrease in environmental damages. With vast populations staying at home for school and work, there is less need for transportation. According to The World Economic Forum, “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused industrial activity to shut down and canceled flights and other journeys, slashing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution around the world.” This major reduction in activity exemplifies the damaging environmental effects humans normally cause day-to-day. However, it also highlights how altering our lifestyles can help decrease emissions significantly. 

One example of this decreased pollution is evident in China. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) published an article explaining how nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is produced from motor and industrial facilities, has greatly decreased, as seen in satellite imaging. The article explains how the Lunar New Year in China usually causes a decrease in these emissions, but this year, it is even lower. Decreased emissions are attributed to quarantining entire populations of people due to the coronavirus. When human activity and industry are the main causes of environmental deterioration, these effects are lessened when the world’s rapid activity suddenly comes to a stop.

© National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

It is important to understand that the coronavirus has not solved all environmental issues. As displayed in an article by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, there is an increased amount of waste from coronavirus. Unrecyclable materials and increased waste are the results of sanitary efforts and avoiding the spread of the virus. In addition, organic waste has been a problem due to the lack of exportation of these goods. Overall, it is important to recognize all areas of environmental impacts of the coronavirus. Despite the positive effects on global emissions, the coronavirus has deteriorated other aspects of the environment.

As the future of the coronavirus begins to unfold and resolve, it is important to monitor how the environment is impacted. The effects of coronavirus have given us insight into how much humans harm the environment, and in turn, each other, on a regular basis. According to the World Health Organization, about seven million people succumb to the effects of air pollution each year. This means that if, and when, we resolve the global struggle to fight COVID-19, the world needs to evaluate the imminent dangers of a polluted earth. Coronavirus has inflicted much harm on society; however, it has shown humanity how much it can change to improve the quality of the Earth.  

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