The impact of Covid-19 on the environment


Photo courtesy of Courtesy of NASA via Google Images under Creative Commons License

This graphic shows the reduction of pollution in the form of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over China between January and the end of February.

Kiersten Henderson, Staff Writer

The effects of Covid-19 have been catastrophic with, as of June 1, over six-million confirmed cases worldwide, and growing every day.  

As another Earth Day passes, the environmental repercussions of the Coronavirus have been seen by scientists.  Notable effects include lower carbon emissions, hospitable habitats being reintroduced into marine life, and wildlife activity growing due to less human activity. The positive effects on the environment(such as less traveling and stay at home orders) in no way justify the damage that has been done to the world and the people in it, but it does show what could happen if people focused on the environment more.

The most observable effects have been seen in China and Northern Italy where emissions are down by over 25% and continue to decline compared to 2019.  The emissions are down due to the stay at home orders in most countries, and factories being shut down across the globe.  With a lack of people out due to work, school, and other daily objectives, the carbon that enters the atmosphere decreases from a lack of cars running off of gasoline, which contributes heavily to the CO-emissions in the atmosphere.  

The greatest change is seen with the factories being shut down across the globe.  In Jalandhar, Indian Punjab pictures and claims through social media have shown that the people in the area can see the Himalayan mountain peaks for the first time in over thirty years.  This is due to factories being shut down in India and China, lowering the Carbon-emissions that heavily pollute these areas resulting in smog covering major cities and regions.  In both India and China, the quality of air is higher, with less smog covering both countries, which has not been observed in years.

Also, due to a lack of people on the waterways, marine life is starting to flourish in many places again. In Hawaii, for example, schools of fish and dolphins have been observed to be closer to the islands and much more active than before. With a lack of tourist activity and ships near the islands, more marine life is returning and starting to thrive in those areas again.  Also, due to water pollution caused by boats driving in waterways in Venice, Italy, the canals have become clear and less murky for the first time in decades.  This is allowing residents to see the bottom of the canals, and view their beauty without tourists covering the water.

A less positive result of the increased environmental activity can be seen in populated areas near the high activity of wildlife.  With most people staying indoors and city streets empty, animals are starting to wander into the barren streets.  Whereas before the pandemic spread, most animals would have never wandered into the cities. With human activity abundant, animals such as coyotes, goats, pumas, and other animals have been spotted in cities and towns near their habitats. This could have long-lasting effects when people no longer have to stay at home.  Many of the animals would have grown used to staying in the cities and would be more likely to regularly come into them.  This could help increase populations of endangered animals as people become more aware of the environment around them.  This will also possibly help repopulate places where animals once thrived, but due to humans or natural disasters have fled, which will help the earth and species of animals.

 Environmental improvements shown by Covid-19 are mostly possible on a smaller scale, over time.  The environment cannot change overnight, nor human practices that contribute to the problems.  If changes are made in small increments such as cutting down carbon fuels through cars and factories then the Earth will significantly improve and keeping it more habitable then previously predicted.  Also, cutting down on tourism in habitats can help repopulate endangered species before they become extinct and help to create a longer-lasting and healthier Earth.