The Coronavirus, Climate Change, and the Nature Crisis

The bitter reality has sunk in by now; the world is well aware that we do not live in the same world as we used to almost a year ago. The Coronavirus has changed our world drastically, from the delivery of services to the way we interact with each, everything is different. On the other hand, it has also had disastrous effects on the healthcare industry, the economy, and has claimed hundreds of lives around the world. However, there is a flip side to the entire situation, a rather pleasant one. 

Due to the mass lockdown, the pandemic has created a positive change for the climate. According to a global survey, the CO2 emissions are now 17% less than last year. This number is the lowest it has been since the 2nd World War. While a silver lining amid this chaos, it’s premature to celebrate this improvement because it is only temporary. Experts are still in search of answers – whether the rate of emissions will be as controlled in the coming years or not. There are also mixed views on how the virus is affecting the environment. 

Let’s dig deeper into how the virus has affected the global climate and the environment: 

How Has Coronavirus Affected the Environment?

If you compare the Air Quality Index before and after the Coronavirus, you will be surprised by the disparity. The virus has dealt a blow to the healthcare system, and there is no denying that it has put hundreds in a state of misery. However, the virus has also caused air quality to improve drastically. So how did exactly did we end up here? The lockdown imposed on hundreds of cities around the globe meant fewer cars on the roads and an overall slow industrial and commercial activity; as a result, carbon emissions are the lowest they have been for years. The International Energy Agency predicts that there will be a considerable drop in emissions in 2020, given the stilted economic activity.  

1. Better Air Quality 

If you compare the Air Quality Index before and after the Coronavirus, you will be surprised by the disparity. The virus has dealt a blow to the healthcare system, and there is no denying that it has put hundreds in a state of misery. However, the virus has also caused air quality to improve drastically. So how did exactly did we end up here? The lockdown imposed on hundreds of cities around the globe meant fewer cars on the roads and an overall slow industrial and commercial activity; as a result, carbon emissions are the lowest they have been for years. The International Energy Agency predicts that there will be a considerable drop in emissions in 2020, given the stilted economic activity.  

2.    Lesser Emissions

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has disclosed some shocking images that have revealed that there is a visible decrease in the level of NO2 emissions, especially those released by vehicles. This is great news for the planet since bad air quality can have serious implications for the health of individuals, especially those who are suffering from lung-related diseases

3.   Reduction in Noise Pollution

The past few months have seen a noticeable decrease in noise pollution, especially in the busiest cities around the world. According to the World Health Organization, the city centers are now able to achieve the recommended decibel levels. Moreover, geologists have reported that there seems to be less seismic activity on the crust of the earth. This can be due to less usage of transport and a reduction in other activities, which is making it easier to detect even the slightest tremors and notify the authorities immediately. 

4.   Increase in Plastic Consumption

So far, we have discussed the positive effects of the Coronavirus on climate. However, there are some negatives too. An issue that we are all ignoring at the moment is the increasing consumption of plastic. The consumption of plastic has increased considerably during the pandemic because plastic deters the transmission of the virus. Along with healthcare professionals and first responders, who need complete PPE (plastic) gear, citizens are advised to wear masks and gloves. 

Although it is a way to protect people from the deadly virus, it has already started to cause an issue. Another reason why plastic consumption has dramatically increased is because of a higher number taking outs and food being delivered. Since people are no longer dining in, the use of disposable boxes and cutlery has soared over the past few months. Although many countries are using recyclable material for takeaway and delivery, there are plenty who are mindlessly using plastic food containers. 

Similarly, every business had to increase plastic consumption to ensure employee and customer safety. Businesses are using plastic bags to deliver goods to their consumers, and even services are using plastic more. A representative from Carpet Cleaning Kent told us that, on average, one employee uses more than ten pairs of disposable plastic gloves in a day, where previously, the number was zero. 

All of this plastic, some necessary some not, is ending up in landfills and ocean beds. Plastic does not decompose; the Coronavirus is causing the world to create, use, and dump millions of tons of plastic that will pollute the world forever.  

5.  Delay in Renewable Energy Projects

With heaps of money being channeled into the healthcare system, governments around the world are facing economic turmoil. As a result, many environment-related and renewable energy projects have been delayed in many cities within the US alone. Over the past decade, the US had increased its renewable energy production to almost double. The progress done so far might be at risk because of the current crisis. Thousands have been unemployed in the renewable energy sector and plenty more who await the same fate. 

6.   Disrupted Scientific Research

The research industry is another sector that has been affected by the virus. Since researchers and scientists are unable to visit the field, research activity is at a painful standstill. Science and technology have advanced to the point where it is now easier to communicate via computers. However, there is only a certain extent of research that you can conduct remotely. At some point, it becomes imperative to carry out fieldwork. Canceling or delaying research-related projects has caused a loss of precious data. Years of research are left unattended, and hundreds of new opportunities are lost. 

A Simpler Life 

We can argue about the positive and negative impacts of the virus, and the debate can go on and on. However, the takeaway lesson is that human beings can save their environment if they wish. The virus has compelled us to live life on simpler terms. We have become more environmentally friendly, even without realizing it. The lockdown and the quarantine did force us to stay and home, which ultimately benefitted the environment. Moreover, people have become more conscious of saving money and not wasting food. It also made a lot of us realize that we can go on without shopping too much and dining out at expensive restaurants. 

Some argue that this form of life is not sustainable. Yes, that may be true, but it has made us realize that investing in sustainable energy will improve climate change and will have a positive effect on the world. 

Bottom line 

The virus has made us appreciate things that were once taken for granted. Things we as humans have stopped thinking about due to our fast-paced and mundane lives. However, we are still unsure of what the future holds. We might go back to our old ways, and the CO2 emissions might go back up to the way they were. Therefore, citizens and governments must work together to develop a sustainable living framework that does not lay waste the only good thing to come off the Coronavirus. 


Author Bio: 
Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing, and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for 
Dynamologic Solutions.