By Dveen Hagopian
With death rates rising, employment rates dropping, and an overall escalation of stress among society, it is difficult to imagine any positive outcomes related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
However, there has been one extremely beneficial outcome of recent social-distancing guidelines: the environment is changing for the better. Due to the enforcement of stay-at-home orders around the world, there is more tranquility in the environment than ever before. The sudden halt of our busy day-to-day lives has given our planet the break it has so desperately needed.
Scientists have already seen a drastic alleviation of air pollution in highly populated areas, such as China and New York. For instance, according to the World Economic Forum, there has been a 40 percent drop in nitrogen dioxide emissions in China due to the major decline in transportation use. The shutdown of many factories, as well as a lessened use of cars and airplanes, has contributed to a significant decline in greenhouse gas emissions and resulted in a cleaner, healthier atmosphere. In addition, coal combustion has decreased in China, which has also contributed to the decrease in air pollution.
There have been similar positive changes in America. In Los Angeles, for instance, the city usually rife with smog saw it’s longest stretch of good air quality in at least four decades, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Natural ecosystems all around the world are thriving now that humans are unable to disrupt them. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, even just reduced human presence in national parks has had an impact on wild species.
This is glaring proof that we are the problem. We are destroying our planet’s environment. With the confirmation that human activities are the main cause of pollution and the primary contributors towards climate change, we should all take this time to focus on changing our damaging ways. Next time you plan on driving somewhere, consider using more environmentally-friendly methods such as riding a bike, taking the Metro, or even carpooling. In addition, always throw your trash away when you are out in public. These are small steps, but if we all take them, we can keep the environment in the healthier state it is in now.
This pandemic is an experience that we should all learn from, regardless of the setbacks we have encountered as a result. We should view this as a lesson to recognize the fact that we are the virus destroying the environment, and that we should all make an effort to live a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle even when this period of social distancing becomes a thing of the past.