COVID-19 and Climate Change

By: Mattie tomey

COVID-19 And Climate Change: Everything You Need to Know About the Environmental Impacts of the Coronavirus Outbreak

It would be hard to neglect the negative impacts of the coronavirus because it is all we seem to hear about, and for good reason. COVID-19 has had drastic impacts in our day to day lives, causing detrimental changes like making our economy plummet, forcing students and teachers to participate in alternative classes/testing, and making nearly everyone participate in social distancing. The actual disease is spreading like a wildwire, with over 600,000 cases and nearly 30,000 deaths worldwide. With all this gloomy information, it’s hard not to have a bleak outlook. As the light at the end of the tunnel seems further and further away, it can almost seem insensitive to be looking for a positive in this situation. 

However, there is talk of an unlikely benefactor. With social distancing comes a lack of traffic and the sealed borders of many countries that are leading to reduced air traffic. This has dramatically decreased the amount of pollution in the air. Lauri Myllyvirta, a lead analysis at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland, said these limitations on travel have contributed to a 25% drop in China’s carbon dioxide emissions, compared to this time last year. Another effect has been a decrease in NO2 levels, which correlates to the decrease in the burning of fossil fuels since the outbreak. 

There are a multitude of questions this information poses: Will these effects be sustainable once the pandemic is under control? Does this prove that we have the ability to make huge changes that will positively affect the world we live in? Is that really what we want to focus on during a global crisis?

Different people will answer in different ways to these questions. Some believe that the statistics will bounce back to the way they were before, as people make up for lost time and begin to travel and produce again in an attempt to start the normalization process. Some say that this smaller carbon footprint lifestyle may actually transfer into life after quarantine, and people will consciously make effort to do things to reduce pollution. 

The reality is, even if some people consciously choose to keep some of the habits they picked up during social distancing, the effects will likely be short-lived, as most people will go back to their normal routines of regular traffic. But, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to see sustainable change in our lifetime: we just have to make the effort. 

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