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Covid-19: The Environmental Impact

Many of us are familiar with the negative impact an economy can have on the environment. From creating smog and air pollutants from due to industrial factories, to contaminating the water with waste and driving the local wildlife away. Because of the reduction in cross border travel, especially through airlines, there has been a considerable drop in air pollution. Paired with the lessening of industrial air pollution due to factory closures, the overall air quality has gone up. In fact, some scientists have even predicted that this may have prevented over seventy thousand deaths in the past two months. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also allowed other illegal activities to go unobserved or unchallenged such as deforestation in the Amazon and animal poaching in Africa.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the most powerful campaigns in the world was that for climate change. In the aftermath of the pandemic, there has been mention of the O zone layer repairing itself, the clearing of smog from metropolitan cities, and the largest recovery from negative climate change in human history. NASA and ESA (the European Space Industry) have been monitoring how nitrogen dioxide levels have gone down in cities around the globe. They’ve even noticed a markable change in nitrous oxide emissions from vehicles having gone down and affecting the environment beneficially. In Venice, the water canals have become clearer and the reduced boat traffic has even brought about the return of marine life to the canals.

Though fishing boats are now sitting idle, the demand for fish still exists, and therefore the price of fish has gone up. Environmentalists say that due to this lull in fishing, the overall population of marine life will go up. Some projections show populations of fish such as herring going up as much as double their current population. Due to lower levels of beach going by the general population, sea turtles have begun returning to beaches or exploring new beaches to lay their eggs at.

While illegal deforestation is an issue, due to mass unemployment by the pandemic, volunteering and recruitment at organisations or campaigns aimed at improving or restoring the environment have gone up. In other regions, farmers have begun to connect with their customers directly as they can no longer depend on wholesale or retail markets to sell their produce for them. The increase in digital connectivity has also led to online grocery stores getting more and more customers as consumers try to order the items they require from the safety of their homes.

One of the biggest issues the environment faces is what protects us the most. Our masks. Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) are heavily reliant on plastic materials. As these are all disposable items, there is a huge surge of plastic waste taking place.

Even with all these environmental changes taking place, there is still the question of will it last? Or will we see factories open up and try to make up for lost time by producing more? Will the change in the workplace environment lead to less car emissions as people work from home, or will they be called back to the office and will the fear of contracting the virus lead to less usage of public transport and an increase in single occupant vehicles. I guess we’ll find out in the coming months.

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