The current coronavirus pandemic has had a traumatic impact on the mental and physical health of families across the world. However, one of the few silver linings that has developed from this virus is the possibility of the improved environmental health of our planet.
The Earth is breathing. The current lack of travel is impacting the environment in a number of ways, the greatest being the huge reduction in carbon emissions and pollution. Experts estimate that carbon emissions in China fell by 25% between February and March. Many images have gone viral of the return of dolphins in the canals in Venice, especially now that boats have vacated the canals and the water is running clearer.
In Wuhan, China, the volume of medical waste is reported to have increased to over 200 tons a day.
Thick fog has given way to blue skies. This is largely due to a huge reduction in aircraft emissions which are currently responsible for 2% of global greenhouse emissions. Now that international flights have been reduced to a minimum, air pollution has drastically decreased. In March, NASA satellite data found a 30% drop in air pollution over the North-East United States; the lowest level for March since 2015.
We need to take action
On the flip side, the coronavirus has had negative impacts on the environment, including the increase in mountains of waste. Chains such as Starbucks have returned to only using disposable single-use cups to reduce the spread of the virus. This has resulted in an increase in plastic waste. Medical waste has also drastically increased since the coronavirus began to spread. In Wuhan, China, the volume of medical waste is reported to have increased to over 200 tons a day.
According to scientists, human encroachment on the natural world speeds up the process of diseases from wildlife spreading to humans and around the world. Deforestation is also speeding up this process. To think that the poor environmental health of the planet could have sped up the spread of COVID-19 is a scary thought. This might be another major warning sign from the Earth that we need to take action to reduce our degradation.
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