As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, travel has been restricted, students are learning from home and many are working from home or are not able to work at all. Due to this frightening outbreak, millions of lives have changed beyond recognition. Although this global crisis is affecting many people in a negative way, there is one unexpected, positive change occurring worldwide. While people around the world are forced to self-isolate and stay inside due to coronavirus, lowering pollution levels have led an unexpected change in the environment.
Although the waters of Venice are usually murky and tinted brown, the water has been crystal clear, with swans, fish and dolphins inhabiting it once again. This is one example of how the environment is greatly benefitting with the millions of people in quarantine and of the large drop in resource usage and pollution. According to High School Science Teacher Dr. Beth McConnell, “Quarantine is helping the environment because people are traveling a lot less, and that impacts the consumption of fossil fuels.” The leading production countries of the world have hastily used many natural resources. McConnell said, “One of the biggest worries that ecologists have is that we are outpacing the resources that the earth has to offer.” By slowing down the destruction and consumption of natural resources, important resources such as water have been able to recycle and recover, and pollutant and carbon dioxide levels have dropped and are giving nature a break.
Environmental improvements can be seen everywhere, in every community. When asked about the environment in her community, sophomore Mackenzie Madison said, “I think that the air quality is improving, and pollution has been clearly on the decline.” Madison has spent her time with her family biking and running, showing that quarantine is allowing many to enjoy the outdoors with more time at home. When talking about changes in her community, senior Liza Yates said, “One pro of staying home is that cars aren’t as common or going as far so there are less emissions in the air.”
Animals have changed mostly in behavior during this time of self-isolation. McConnell said, “There are stories where animals are entering into spaces where they don’t normally come because people are not out and about. Animals may be taking advantage of our absence a little bit.” Many news sources around the world have reported wildlife entering cities and other locations where wildlife never ventured before. When talking about domesticated pets, McConnell said, “I think because [pet owners] are spending more time with our pets at home, they are happier, and it’s a good thing.” Overall, McConnell said that animals are not being adversely affected, and that they seem to be “blissfully unaware that this problem is going on around them.”
The improving environment throughout this pandemic has sparked an intriguing and important question: will pollution and use of valuable resources will return to previous levels once the nation and world are no longer on lockdown? McConnell said, “I think we will resume normal patterns, and that travel will resume and that the economy will rebound and continue as it was before the pandemic, but maybe not to the full extent it was before. I think that some of our habits may change for the better where we do things more remotely and maybe use less energy getting back and forth to work.” Madison agreed and said, “Even if [pollution levels] return to their previous levels in the future, it will take a while.” She also believes that many people will remove certain methods of transportation and manufacturing from their lives which will hopefully improve the environment. Yates has strong hopes for the environment and said, “I think small acts towards environmental protection could be easy to implement in a routine after this because we have seen the positive outcomes when there is less pollution.”
The coronavirus is the top news story everywhere in 2020 and has affected communities around the world. There are many cons to this pandemic, but the environment has seen a positive change in the last few weeks. The healing and improvement of the environment during this time is one positive result of quarantine, bringing good news amidst this difficult time around the world.