COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live our normal life and work. Some changes have been notable and good, while some changes are difficult to practice. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a downfall in pollution in the air and water bodies. Let us take a look at the environmental impacts of coronavirus crisis that have taken place so far.
Improved Air Quality:
The world came to a stop with the sudden shutdown of factories and industries which reduced their emission of pollutants in the air. Satellite images depict a sharp drop in the levels of Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is emitted from the vehicles and cause a lot of pollution.
This gas is also emitted from the chimneys of the industries due to their production activities. These activities came to a halt during the global shutdown and have enhanced the quality of air because so many industries stopped working for a while to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. People started working from home hence the vehicles commuting to and fro reduced.
CO2 emissions have Dropped:
Along with NO2, the emission of CO2 has also dropped significantly. As the companies and industrial activities came to a halt, the emission of the aforementioned pollutants also stopped. Last time this had happened was in the year 2008-09 when the world hit the recession period. With this, pollution also had dropped.
But these changes are temporary as the industrial activities will begin in full swing with double the efforts to compensate for the loss incurred during the global shut down. COVID-19 has affected environment in a positive way.
Beneficial for Urban Wildlife:
As people stopped stepping out of their houses, the vehicular traffic was reduced considerably, as a result of shutdown after COVID-19 pandemic. The streets wore a deserted look and there was very rare spotting of humans for the fear of catching the virus. This led to animals stepping out of their comfort of bushes.
Wild Animals have been spotted on the streets and the flora and fauna seem to have flourished in the absence of human activities. Hence, the animals have been stepping out of their hiding places to explore the world. The canals in Venice have seen the swans and the ducks coming back to the waters because freshwater started flowing, following the absence of humans.
Global Wildlife Trade may Hopefully End:
Wildlife conservationists hope that COVID-19 outbreak will stop the trade of dead as well as living animals. There have been markets that trade the animals legally and illegally which has been the number one reason for the extinction of certain animal species.
The epicentre for COVID-19 pandemic is in Wuhan market in China, which trades the live production and is responsible for the illegal trafficking of wildlife. With the fear of contracting another virus like the Coronavirus, there is a hope that the trading of livestock may stop gradually.
As soon as Italy was put under a complete shutdown, images of Venice water canals emerged that featured clear running waters, which were muddy water bodies, once. It also showed the return of swans and ducks swimming in the clear waters and enjoying it.
As the cruise ships and boats stopped working for a while, the noise pollution levels decreased significantly. The water bodies became peaceful in the absence of noise and it was a relief for aquatic animals like dolphins, whales and other fishes, post COVID-19 pandemic.
A Rise in Plastic Waste:
The shutdown did not have all the helpful effects. Some changes have mustered the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the onset of the global pandemic, people were told to use sanitizers, disposable gloves and face masks. These masks and gloves were meant for one-time use. And hence, people started littering the places with these disposable things.
This increased plastic waste in place of reducing it. Therefore, people are urged around the world to use reusable masks and hand gloves made from cotton fabric that protects against the virus as well as keeps the environment clean. Cafes also have started telling their customers to bring their reusable cups instead of offering disposable cups to arrest the plastic waste emergence.
The Issue of the Climate Crisis has gone under the Rug:
With the onset of a global COVID-19 pandemic, the issues regarding the environmental crisis have gone off the tracks. But this does not make the underlying climate issue any less important. The UN climate conference is also not going to be conducted until 2021. Even though the pollution emission has dropped, the plastic waste has increased significantly. And the world went on lockdown for a couple of weeks; it is likely to compensate for the loss by working more following the lockdown being lifted. This may lead to even more pollution because of increased industrial activities.
We need to protect ourselves from COVID-19 but we should also take care of the environment as a whole. We reduced the pollution during the shutdown. And we are responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of nature