Coronavirus Update: Positive Environmental Impact

Coronavirus Update: Positive Environmental Impact

It is difficult to self-quarantine and maintain social distancing during this dangerous, anxiety ridden global pandemic caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19). It is only a matter of time before the upward infection and death toll curve flattens and an anti-viral or vaccine is developed. Until then, and hopefully it is soon, there are some positive environmental impacts occurring due to limited human interference. This is the first time in history that experts can track realtime positive effects offering scores of data and a sobering look at how a nasty microbe has shut down the planet and let nature thrive in modern times like never before. 

China Syndrome

We all know by now that the coronavirus began around December 2019 in the Wuhan province of China coming out of what is known as an illegal wet market. A wet market is usually an open-air location that sells fresh meat, fish, and produce. Most are legal and regulated, like those in the US, but this particular one in Wuhan has been linked to disease, infestation, and uncleanliness which lead to many warnings by the authorities. Eventually, the coronavirus (one of many), jumped from animal to human by eating tainted meat. This is known as a zoonotic (zoh-not-ik) disease. Once this series of events occurred there was no stopping the mass global infection we are experiencing today. That said, some interesting statistics have emerged throughout the last couple of months showing some things on the opposite side of this; the environment.

According to a report by CNN, 

“Satellite images released by NASA and the European Space Agency show a dramatic reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions — those released by vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities — in major Chinese cities between January and February. The visible cloud of toxic gas hanging over industrial powerhouses almost disappeared…As the world’s biggest polluter, China contributes 30% of the world’s CO2 emissions annually, so the impact of this kind of drop is huge, even over a short period. CREA estimates it is equivalent to 200 million tons of carbon dioxide– more than half the entire annual emissions output of the UK.”

Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center describes “revenge pollution”, stating, 

“There might be a round of economic stimulus which would inject cheap credits to heavy industries in China, and as a result of that we might see increasing pollutants and also carbon emissions in the second half of this year, [this bounce-back effect — which can sometimes reverse any overall drop inemissions — is something called “revenge pollution]”

This is an opportunity for China to take drastic precautionary measures once the virus has passed and not to end up experiencing “revenge pollution”. The reduction in pollution is not only being seen in China as the rest of the globe significantly cuts back on normal transportation and manufacturing it is being seen everywhere. It is an opportunity for all of the world, from fossil fuel polluting giants to minor players, to restructure, reinvest, and rebalance the Eco-system practically overnight. 

Oceanlife Freedoms

Nature is also quickly taking advantage of minimal human interference. 

The New York Post reported, ‘Dolphins appear in Italian waterways as coronavirus keeps tourists away’ revealing that, 

“Tourists may have cleared the streets of Italy amid the coronavirus lockdown — but dolphins and other wildlife are now emerging in the country’s much-clearer-looking waterways.”

One Italian resident that stayed in Venice amidst some of the highest cases reported at the beginning of the European exposure posted dolphins frolicking in the canals commenting to the Post, 

“Venice hasn’t seen clear canal water in a very long time, Dolphins showing up too. Nature just hit the reset button on us.”

Roaming the Streets

As more city streets, suburban swaths, and rural expanses become clear of people, more residents are posting videos of animals roaming the streets.

A Twitter post from Calicut India read, 

“Spotted Malabar civet… A critically endangered mammal not seen until 1990 resurfaces for the first time in Calicut town…seems mother earth is rebooting!”

Also in India, reports of birds nesting on parked cars, snakes found making homes in unused scooters, and bison brazenly walking into closed outdoor markets. Wild pigs are shown tiptoeing through Paris; goats eating the local landscape in the Welsh town of Llandudno and even coyote sauntering along the sidewalks in San Francisco. 

Future Options

As we see the earth change around us simply from a few months of non-abuse, there could be several factors put into play as future options. It may be realized and proposed that more workers remain working from home. After this ‘forced test period’ companies will have the ability to re-assess the possibilities of cost saving moves such as a remote workforce. This has the potential to reduce a large amount of transportation carbon footprints as well as create less wear and tear on the surrounding infrastructure. This kind of change is one of many possible applications that may include the importance of down time, reducing waste, and adhering to more vigilant hygiene. 

As we all hold our breath for a positive human outcome from withstanding this viral onslaught, nature will continue to thrive without us in the way.