COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is the most recent plague to appear in the United States and the world. It has affected more than half the world’s population and severely damaged not only our economy, but the structure of our lives. The coronavirus has given us many thoughts on how to survive or adapt as a community. The coronavirus has delayed our payments in rent due dates and restructured schedules for schools and businesses. Another predicament is social distancing and the “stay-at-home” plan to keep anyone vulnerable from contact. However, even though what COVID-19 has done to us is brutal for society, it might not be as bad for the environment.
Tropospheric nitrogen dioxide column, March 15-April 15 2015-2019 Average, Southeast USA Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
Due to less airplane travel, there has been a decreasing number of airborne fossil fuels. Since there are millions of people infected by the coronavirus, there has been a decrease in travel to countries and states by plane. Airports have reduced travel to a record low from the fear of contracting the virus, due to the close proximity of potential victims. Dr. Bryan N. Duncan from the NASA Goddard has stated, “If the amount of pollution emitted continues to grow over time, your economy is likely booming.” Yet, he noted that pollution could be lowered through controlled emissions even if carbon emissions stayed the same.
As you can see in the first picture by NASA, tropospheric nitrogen dioxide is at a medium to a large scale of 2.50 to 3.75 10^15 molecules/cm^2. This data was before the crisis started by the coronavirus. Still, if you look at the second picture from NASA, you’ll notice a dramatic change in the system.
Tropospheric nitrogen dioxide decreased dramatically to 0.00 10^15 molecules/cm^2, making it clear that since there is little travel during this time of crisis, pollution has reduced with just in a few weeks. Of course, that means a negative impact will fall into our economy, and fewer products by air would result in increased prices. Yet, this could increase the sky’s air quality, and with less carbon in the air, we have more chances of reducing greenhouse gases entering our atmosphere. That means we can have fewer heat waves that do terrible harm to our elderly or those vulnerable to heat. If we also learn to do business using the right technology, we can perhaps reduce airborne emissions forever.
While the lockdown prevents humanity from producing carbon emissions, it does not mean that COVID-19 is good for wildlife. According to “COVID-19 and its effects on the environment” by Mariecor Agravante, it states that “…the American Veterinary Medical Association announced the positive presence of COVID-19 in domestic animals, zoos and BioTechniques Journal likewise saw captive animals test positive with the new coronavirus.” COVID-19 is transmitting to not only our domesticated animals, but also our wildlife that has no means of protecting themselves against the virus. That could mean a massive decline in population in wildlife and potential extinction to endangered animals. Not only is this dangerous for them, but it also causes a massive reduction in food and transportation. The human population in underdeveloped countries will an increase in COVID-19 disease, which could lead to an enormous spread in local wildlife and an increase in face mask and rubber gloves pollution.
The question to this pandemic is this: what can we do to limit our actions and save this planet while we still have the time? As a society, we can change how we control our policies while there’s time and counter our “destructive” motive to our planet. By doing so, we can limit our travel with local commodities like trains, buses, or electric cars. If applicable, we can ride bikes or carpool with our co-workers to keep low carbon emissions. Limiting our online shopping by going to our local supermarkets or other businesses can also help our environment from pollution while also supporting local businesses. If we do those things when this crisis ends, we can not only help the environment but also support our communities—giving our lives more value while knowing more people around your area. Being more social can improve your mental health while observing the impacts of your building from reduced energy. Our effects can help the planet and help yourself.
COVID-19 has both positive and negative effects on the environment. It has lead us to understand that we need to make a restructure to our communities to decrease pollution to a certain amount and support local worldwide charities than we can come together and face this pandemic; not as an individual charity, but as a global community.
- https://www.space.com/54-earth-history-composition-and-atmosphere.html (First Picture)