Environment benefits of COVID-19

Environment benefits of COVID-19

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Okinawa

When the world began reeling from the destructive human toll of COVID-19, it was hard to find a bright spot. Governments issued shelter-in-place directives, the Department of Defense published a now extended stop-movement order for active duty and dependents, and countries around the globe sealed off borders to try and stem the spread of the virus. Due to the swiftness of action, many of us struggled to adjust to the new normal. Trips and holidays were canceled, no more happy hours after work and no more perusing the aisles of your local store just because. However taxing it feels for us humans, Mother Nature has a different perspective. Here are a few ways our environment and the planet have benefited from humans sheltering-in-place.

Decreased pollution levels. Before the pandemic, air pollution — particularly in China and bustling metropolitan cities — were so high face masks were part of daily life for breathing purposes. A lingering gray line of smog clung to skylines hindering views of mountains and landmarks. Since China began its lockdown in January, air pollution levels have decreased by more than 25%. Residents are seeing clear blue skies and can breathe cleaner air.

Decreased greenhouse emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from cars, planes, oil production and coal burning have also dramatically decreased. You can see the difference in satellite imagery, particularly over Milan, Paris, Madrid and London. With travel all but ceased, roads are almost empty, and airports have become virtual ghost towns. Airlines such as Lufthansa, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have cut their schedules up to 90%. While the economic ramifications aren’t positive, the earth is healing itself. Without the constant barrage of tourists scrambling for gondola rides or water taxis, the lagoons and canals of Venice have become cleaner and clearer.

Flora and fauna are blooming and exploring. With the pulse of city life slowing to a crawl and emptying, wildlife from outside are starting to venture into areas they once inhabited. Herds of goats have infiltrated villages in Wales, deer have been found roaming aimlessly in Japanese cities and boars have migrated into the heart of Barcelona. In the U.K., experts are predicting impressive wildflower blooms as mowing contracts are put on hiatus.

Fresh food retail gets a boost. With strict physical distancing guidelines in effect, many are opting for grocery delivery. Farmers and wholesale food suppliers are getting creative and developing fresh farm-to-door delivery options. For instance, wholesalers normally selling their produce to restaurants of stores are offering a variety of food boxes consisting of fruit, vegetables, meat, milk and bread delivered straight to your door.

Yes, sheltering-in-place is hard. Warm, spring weather makes it difficult to quell the urges to get out and travel. However, while we’re doing our part to help turn the tide on COVID-19, we’re also simultaneously helping our planet recover from the damage inflicted upon it. Stay home, save lives and help heal the Earth.


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