COVID-19's Positive Impacts on the Environment
In a matter of months, the world has been transformed. Thousands of people have already died, and hundreds of thousands more have fallen ill, from a coronavirus that was previously unknown before appearing in the city of Wuhan in December 2019. For millions of others who have not caught the disease, their entire way of life has changed by it.
The streets of Wuhan, China, are deserted after authorities implemented a strict lockdown. In London, the normally bustling pubs, bars and theatres have been closed and people have been told to stay in their homes. Worldwide, flights are being cancelled. The world was extremely having a tough time.
However, the worldwide disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in numerous positive impacts on the environment and the climate. The considerable decline in planned travel has caused many regions to experience a large drop in air pollution. In China, lockdowns and other measures resulted in a 25% reduction in carbon emissions and 50% reduction in nitrogen oxides emissions, which one Earth systems scientist estimated may have saved at least 77,000 lives over two months.
In Venice, water in the canals cleared and experienced greater water flow. The increase in water clarity was due to the settling of sediment that is disturbed by boat traffic and mentioned the decrease in air pollution along the waterways.
Between 1 January and 11 March 2020, the European Space Agency observed a marked decline in nitrous oxide emissions from cars, power plants, and factories in the Po Valley region in northern Italy, coinciding with lockdowns in the region. The readings from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite show a significant decrease in NO2 concentrations over Rome, Madrid, and Paris, the first cities in Europe to implement strict quarantine measures.
Beaches are one of the most important natural capital assets found in coastal areas. They provide services that are critical to the survival of coastal communities and possess intrinsic values that must be protected from overexploitation. However, non-responsible use by people has caused many beaches in the world to present pollution problems. The lack of tourists, as a result of the social distancing measures due to the new coronavirus pandemic, has caused a notable change in the appearance of many beaches in the world. For example, beaches like those of Acapulco (Mexico), Barcelona (Spain), or Salinas (Ecuador) now look cleaner and with crystal clear waters.
Environmental noise is defined as an unwanted sound that could be generated by anthropogenic activities, the transit of engine vehicles, and melodies at high volume. Environmental noise is one of the main sources of discomfort for the population and the environment, causing health problems and altering the natural conditions of the ecosystems. The imposition of quarantine measures by most governments has caused people to stay at
home. With this, the use of private and public transportation has decreased significantly. Also, commercial activities have stopped almost entirely. All these changes have caused the noise level to drop considerably in most cities in the world.
Finally, it is concluded that COVID-19 produced both positive and negative indirect effects on the environment. Decreasing GHG concentrations during a short period is not a sustainable way to clean up our environment. Furthermore, the virus crisis brings other environmental problems that may last longer and maybe more challenging to manage if countries neglect the impact of the epidemic on the environment.