Quarantine & The Environment

Cat Moe

With the Coronavirus pandemic, the world has been faced with many challenges and getting accustomed to new ways of living. One of these adjustments includes self-quarantine for the sake of preventing the spread of the virus and keeping others safe. With the virus seeming to destroy anything that stands in its path and the toll it has taken on the economy, it can be difficult to see a white light at times. Despite this quarantine becoming increasingly difficult and feeling tedious at times, it has more than just the obvious benefit of preventing the spread of a sickness believe it or not! It has actually aided in some minor, yet beneficial changes to the environment. 

To begin, NASA reports an improvement in the atmosphere. The air pollution has had a noticeable decrease. This does not mean that all the pollution in the air has gone down, but enough that there’s been a reported change in weather patterns. It was on February 28, when it was released to the public that due to the drastic decrease in transportation and business activity, there was a decrease of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the atmosphere over China. However, this is only a decrease of one pollutant. It does show a possibility for the decrease in more atmospheric pollutants in the future if people choose to take the proper steps. This could be a massive step for the environment and humanity. 

Another result of this quarantine has been the lack of traffic, and shut downs of public transportation. Trains have been closed down, and satellites show images of some of the once busiest places now having empty parking lots. 

Carbon Dioxide emissions have lessoned due to the decrease of coal and oil industries. Key industries are operating at much lower than average rates due to the quarantine. Oil refineries have been at their lowest since 2015. As a result, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were at least 25 percent lower in the two weeks following the Lunar New Year compared to 2019. 

In some places, the pandemic has caused some unusual environmental effects. In Venice, clear water canals seem to have been struck by an environmental touch. Social media has reported that the canals are almost empty now, due to the lock down, but the water is also unusually clear. Another interesting occurrence is animals that were used to being fed by tourists. Many people have reported sightings of rare animals out and about looking for food, as now, their main sources of food are no longer reliable. Another instance of animals looking for food occured in Thailand where a video of monkeys fighting over scraps of food surfaced in Lopburi. 

Covid-19 has been a challenge for humanity. Though, in these times one can come to appreciate what others could not before. As one facebook user, Elisabetta Cappellari, who posted the video of the canals stated: “Maybe this Virus is Mother Earth putting us in time-out for a while….while she cleans up the mess we made.”  With all the disheartening things happening around us, it’s nice to look on the brightside and see that the planet is trying to thrive and know that there is  hope out there for a stronger, and hopefully less quarantined, future.