Global Engineering

Going Green With COVID-19

Let us face it, we have all heard the COVID-19 news – the number of infected, the fatalities, and the potential third wave. All of this is terrifying, which makes sense. However, this is not the only thing that the pandemic has brought us.

With many people working from home and children learning from home, there have been far fewer commuters. This means that carbon emissions have decreased, and Mother Nature can breathe a sigh of relief. All things considered, has there really been an environmental benefit to this devastating pandemic?

Giving wildlife a break

One of the benefits of less traffic and commuters is that wildlife and other animals are not injured or killed on the roads. This also relates to sea travel. With less ships in the water, ocean life has had time to recuperate as fewer marine animals are killed or fished out of the ocean. Air and noise pollution brought on because of travel in all its forms has also begun to decrease. As a result, wildlife has also started popping up in unexpected places.

Unfortunately, all the progress bad risks being reversed as the world goes back to “normal”. Business as usual means increased traffic and of the destruction that comes along with it. This means that it will take years before the world truly recovers from man’s destruction, even with the temporary relief provided by the pandemic.

Another downside associated with wildlife and the pandemic is that invasive alien species have had the opportunity to grow and thrive because of decreased human intervention and interaction. In the same breath, animals that relied on humans for food and scavenging have been unable to find food during the pandemic.

And let us not forget the impact of the single-use PPE that people have been improperly disposing of since the pandemic started.

The facts

Research has found that global CO2 levels have dropped by 17 percent since the early stages of the pandemic. Another study found that pollutant nitric dioxide levels decrease by between 20 and 40 percent.

In Massachusetts in the USA, research has found that between 27 March and 14 May 2020, travel by car decreased by 71 percent while travel by truck decreased by 46 percent. As a result, harmful toxins release by car emissions decreased significantly. This ties in with the findings of yet another study that found that the pandemic has resulted in better air quality and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Moving on from road travel, water pollution has also reaped the benefits of the global pandemic. India’s longest freshwater lake’s water pollution levels dropped by approximately 16 percent. Travel restrictions and beach closures have also assisted in reducing the pollutants found in our water sources.

There is no doubt that the pandemic has brought about destruction, but it has also brought with it a time for nature to recover from years of abuse. As people stay home and take advantage of the offers and other perks, the world is recovering. The only question we need to ask ourselves, is whether this is a one-off fluke, or will we do our part in ensuring that this positive environmental wave of change continues?