Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacted the Environment for Better or Worse?

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The COVID-19 virus is impacting people all over the world, forcing people to stay inside, families to not see one another, businesses to close down, and doctors and nurses to risk their lives everyday. As the COVID-19 virus persists and proves to be unpredictable, people’s lives all over the world are changing. In addition to people’s lives changing due to this global pandemic, the environment is also changing. 

The environment has undergone drastic changes over the last two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As people are forced to stay inside and social distance, they are leaving less of a carbon footprint in some ways, and a larger carbon footprint in other ways. This post will describe how the environment is being impacted both positively and negatively by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Top 4 Ways that COVID-19 Has Impacted the Environment

In some ways, the environment is thriving due to people’s inability to go out and business’ ability to operate and in other ways, people are damaging the ecosystem just as much. Here are the top 4 ways that the environment has been impacted due to the global pandemic.

1.   Overall Improved Air Quality

This is perhaps one of the most beneficial ways that the lack of human traffic has left a positive impact on the environment. As people are forced to self quarantine and businesses are forced to close temporarily, there is significantly less air pollution. This is most obvious in China, however air quality all over the world has improved greatly as industrial activity has been slowed down or paused. 

One of the biggest air pollutants is nitrogen dioxide which comes mainly from power plants and cars. However, as people are hardly driving, and most factories and power plants had to pause production, the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the air has dropped significantly. 

Though the COVID-19 virus is not a beneficial occurrence, perhaps it will act as a wakeup call to people all over the world to lower the amount of pollutants that we are putting into the air. In just two months, the world’s air quality has improved. One can only imagine what quality the air could be if everyone continued to make an effort to continue this pollutant-free lifestyle after the COVID-19 virus has subsided. 

2.   Larger Amounts of Waste

Though the air quality has improved, the amount of waste that humans are creating has worsened. In order to prevent the COVID-19 virus, people are being told to sanitize and clean to the extreme, as well as wear protective gear to cover their mouth, nose, and hands. Though these preventative measures are necessary, if not executed properly, they can cause extreme amounts of waste. 

Not only are people throwing out and littering copious amounts of plastic gloves and masks, they are also buying excessive amounts of products which is creating more waste that is piling up in landfills. Similarly, people are not using reusable bags and cups, instead they are reverting back to plastic products so that they can throw them out when they are done with them in order to not bring any outside germs inside. 

Another major way that people are creating more waste is by ordering takeout since they can no longer go to restaurants, and by online shopping since they can not go to stores. Both of these at-home services are convenient, however, they produce waste because of the containers and packaging that they come in. 

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3.   Lower Greenhouse Emissions

Similar to power plants shutting down, with schools, businesses, offices, and restaurants shut down, there are less greenhouse gases being produced into the atmosphere. There is a lower demand for fossil fuels as most places are closed temporarily, therefore, allowing carbon emissions to fall. 

Additionally, there is a lower oil demand.

4.   More Domestic Energy is Being Used

Though commercial energy has lowered significantly, commercial energy consumption has increased greatly. Since people are forced to stay at home, they are using extreme amounts of energy to heat and cool their home, to light their lighting fixtures, and to power electronics and other household appliances. 

An expert from a company that sells solar panels in Cherry Hill pointed out that though the lower commercial energy use has gone down, the high domestic energy consumption will have just as large of an impact on the environment since the entire world is at home. He also pointed out that people’s electricity bills will be extremely high, demonstrating just how much energy they are using. 

What Happens Next?

The future of the environment as it pertains to the COVID-19 virus is uncertain. As the COVID-19 virus subsides and lessens, the environment is likely to be impacted in both positive and negative ways. It’s up to humans to do all that we can to make the impacts as beneficial to the environment as possible, even after the global pandemic has ended. 

About the Author

Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey

Photo Credit: Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

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