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COVID-19 and its Effect on the Environment

By: Lindsay Gordon

COVID-19 is currently taking the world by storm, sweeping through multiple countries, causing death tolls of more than 20,000 people in the United States alone. COVID-19 started in Wuhan, China, and this novel strain of the virus causes you to have a cough, fever, fatigue, and sometimes difficulty breathing as it attacks the respiratory system. As this global pandemic sweeps through nations around the world destroying many things in the process, it seems that there is no benefit to the horrible situation the world is currently enduring. However, some people are pointing out that the planet, in fact, is benefiting greatly. But could this actually be true?

Since the coronavirus started, the planet has seen a drop in air pollution, an increase in clear bodies of water, and reduced energy emissions. Satellite images taken in the United States have shown a decrease in nitrogen dioxide, a gas that is produced through fuel emission, in the air. Twitter users have recently pointed out that this is because of social distancing, as less people are using cars, buses, or any other means of transportation during this time. Another sign of the planet benefiting is that Venice’s canal waters are much clearer leading the public to believe that they are much cleaner. However, as the Venice Mayor’s office explains, the water might look clearer, but it is not actually any cleaner. With less boat traffic on the water, sediment that usually lays on the surface of the water now lays at the bottom, giving the appearance of clearer water. 

Although there are some positive effects coronavirus has had on the planet, such as decreased NO2 and even animals roaming free on metropolitan streets, experts point out that these things are only temporary. Because the world seems to be in a sudden stand-still at the moment, the planet has been slightly benefiting from this. However, when social distancing comes to an end and this horrific pandemic is over, the old ways of civilization will start to come back, and people will once again use their cars and emit harmful gases into the earth’s atmosphere. This will bring back all of the air pollution and damaging factors to the environment that became non-existent during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to realize that human activity does have an effect on our planet. Even after the pandemic is over, humans should try to continue with practices that will benefit our environment. Experts point out that the practices can include something as simple as carpooling with a friend to work or even growing a garden in your own backyard. These small things can help contribute to making our planet a better place for future generations. 

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