Is the Earth healing?

How self-quarantine is helping the Earth

Macey VanDenMeerendonk

More stories from Macey VanDenMeerendonk


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The decrease in air pollution and tourists has helped waterways and air quality improve while quarantine guidelines are in place.

We are all feeling the effects of the global pandemic that is currently warranting us to stay home and practice social distancing. 

While we stay indoors, virtually hanging out with friends and doing anything to curb our boredom, we are not only helping to decrease the spread of this virus, but we are also helping the Earth become cleaner as well.

In an article posted by CNBC, air pollution has reduced significantly since travel bans have been set in place.

Other positive effects include Venice canals having cleared up without boat traffic. With the decreased pollution, dolphins have once again been spotted swimming in the canals. In Thailand and Japan, mobs of monkeys and deer are roaming streets now devoid of tourists, the CNBC article said.

“The coronavirus pandemic is shutting down countries across the world, causing a significant decline in air pollution in major cities as countries implement stricter quarantines and travel restrictions,” the CNBC said.

A BBC article said carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels have reduced significantly in New York this year compared to previous years.

“Researchers in New York told BBC their early results showed carbon monoxide, mainly from cars, had been reduced by nearly 50% compared with last year,” BBC said. “Emissions of the planet-heating gas CO2 have also fallen sharply.”

Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and founder of the Pacific Institute in Berkeley, Calif. said in the CNBC article that the public should keep climate change in mind with this pandemic. 

“In the midst of this rapidly moving global pandemic, it’s natural that we also think about that other massive threat facing us — global climate change —  and what we might learn now to help us prepare for tomorrow,” said Gleick. 

Gleick said the coronavirus is showing us our ability or inability to respond to urgent threats, but climate change can be planned for — if politicians pay attention to the warnings from scientists. 

While the levels of pollution are lowering with many people following quarantine guidelines, it does not seem likely that this change will last long. Especially when the economy grows after the pandemic. 

CNBC said scientists argue that the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic on climate change will depend on how countries and corporations respond to an economic crisis.

“The International Energy Agency, or IEA, has warned the virus will weaken global investments in clean energy and industry efforts to reduce emissions, and has called on governments to offer stimulus packages that consider climate change,” CNBC said. 

BBC said, in the coming months, governments will have a chance to alter emission outcomes. They said they could insist, for instance, that any bailout of airlines would be tied to far more stringent reductions in aviation emissions.

Corinne Le Quéré, a professor of Climate Change Science from the University of East Anglia, said in the BBC article that governments now have to be really cautious on how they re-stimulate their economies, mindful of not locking in fossil fuels again.

“They should focus on those things that are ready to go that would lower emissions, like renovating buildings, putting in heat pumps and electric chargers,” Le Quéré said. “These are not complicated and can be done straight away, they are just waiting for financial incentives.”

With so many companies shutting down indefinitely, this would be a good time for them to brainstorm plans to return more environmentally conscious.

If companies would change their plans to consider the environment, this small and reasonably fast, change we are seeing now could continue to change the direction the Earth is facing. 

The longer the pandemic lasts, the more panicked companies will be to quickly return to the habits that have provided them profits in the past, throwing ideas that help the planet out the window.

In the meantime, continue to do your part in reducing the spread of the virus so that the Earth can heal itself. 

Practice environmentally friendly tactics and hope that national and international companies will do the same. 

VanDenMeerendonk can be reached at [email protected]