Biology

How the Environment Responded to Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic may seem like one of the worst things that could be happening to the world right now. And although that might be the case for us, the environment is finally getting the break from human activity that it’s been longing for. With businesses shut down, traveling banned, and everyone in lockdown, traffic and pollution have been significantly reduced and it’s had some notable effects on nature. So while you’re stuck being quarantined, here are some cool things happening around the world as a result. 

Positive Events that Happened During COVID-19 Pandemic: The Environment’s Response

1. Venice’s Canals are Crystal Clear 

Italy has faced great devastation in light of the current situation. But in looking for positivity, citizens discovered that the waters of the canals have become cleaner than they’ve seen before. These canals are busy all throughout the year and experience heavy pollution and debris. With the state on lockdown however, cargo boats, cruise ships and tour boats are out of the waters leaving almost no boat traffic. Now, the waters are seen crystal clear. Meanwhile, swans, jellyfish, and schools of fish are to be seen enjoying this rare occasion (Sparks). 

2. Animals in India have Taken to the Streets 

A densely populated country, India ranks third on the list of the world’s most polluted countries. That being said, the country is accustomed to great road traffic. Under lockdown however, the roads are emptier than many have ever seen. This lack of cars, rickshaws, and motorcycles on chaotic Indian streets has left plenty of room for animals like monkeys and elephants. In Mumbai, there have been peacocks spotted on top of parked cars with their feathers spread out and Delhi has groups of monkeys making their way around streets and buildings (Al Arabiya English). Turtles are sprawled across empty beaches and down south in Karnataka, elephants were even seen walking down roads (NBC News).

3. Other Animals Around the World Reclaiming the Environment 

India isn’t the only place where wildlife is seen taking advantage of humans in self isolation. Lions are napping on deserted South African roads, mountain goats from Northern Wales are exploring empty towns, and San Francisco’s streets are being visited by coyotes. Not to mention the wild pigs running through the streets of Turkey and dolphins swimming by its coast, whales in Vancouver waters, raccoons on beaches in Panama, and wild turkeys in California (Enjoli). Wildlife has shown itself in different ways in every part of the world. Animals are experiencing quieter, cleaner habitats with no human disturbance creating a wholesome reminder of these amazing species that sadly get disturbed by human activity.   

4. Clean Air in China is Saving Lives 

Every year, China loses 1.6 billion people to conditions caused by air pollution. Although these increasing rates of air pollution remain a pertinent issue, the number of deaths due to air pollution has been significantly lower this year. As Chinese citizens began staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus after its outbreak in Wuhan, the Carbon emissions in China dropped by about a quarter. The coal use also reduced rapidly for a 40% decrease in a matter of weeks and many Chinese cities experienced far higher numbers of days with increased air quality (Henriques). During just the span of the lockdown alone, an approximate 12 000 deaths due to air pollution have been prevented, and ironically, this number is almost three times higher than 4633, China’s total deaths from Covid-19 as of today (Firaque). 

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Our Environment and Animals

In the short span of a few months, the outbreak of this pandemic has changed everything. Although it’s been devastating for the lives of many, it’s evident that the environment has enjoyed its break from human activity. With the reduction of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, air and water has been notably cleaner and the lack of people in public has left space for many animals to come out. However, as lockdowns begin to lift around the world, human activity will soon return to normal, along with its harmful effects on the environment. This event showed us the intensity of the effects of our ecological footprint. Through the hustle and bustle of daily life, we’ve gradually destroyed the purity and cleanliness of the Earth’s air, waters, animal habitats and more. Seeing the outcomes from just a few weeks of people staying at home has been a sign of the extent of this human impact. 

The temporarily clear waters and skies however are not enough to impact the enormity of the ongoing climate crisis, one that experts can ensure will be a far greater threat to humanity than the Covid-19 pandemic. So have we learned our lesson, or will we be quick to reverse these positive changes as soon as we’re ready to celebrate the end of this quarantine? 

Works Cited 

“As People Stay Indoors, India’s Elephants Roam the Streets.” As People Stay Indoors, India’s Elephants Roam the Streets, NBC News, 4 May 2020, http://www.msn.com/en-us/video/animals/as-people-stay-indoors-indias-elephants-roam-the-streets/vi-BB12ccxk.

Enjoli, Audrey. “14 Times Animals Reclaimed the Planet During Quarantine.” LIVEKINDLY, Publisher Name LIVEKINDLY Publisher Logo, 10 May 2020, http://www.livekindly.co/animals-are-reclaiming-planet-during-quarantine/.

Firaque, Kabir. “Cleaner China Air Saved More Lives than Covid Claimed, Study Finds.” The Indian Express, The Indian Express, 16 May 2020, indianexpress.com/article/explained/cleaner-china-air-saved-more-lives-than-covid-killed-study-6412048/.

Henriques, Martha. “Will Covid-19 Have a Lasting Impact on the Environment?” BBC Future, BBC, 27 Mar. 2020, http://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200326-covid-19-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-the-environment.

“Monkeys, Elephants, and Dogs Reclaim India’s Streets in Coronavirus Lockdown.” Al Arabiya English, Al Arabiya English, 9 Apr. 2020, english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/04/09/Monkeys-elephants-and-dogs-reclaim-India-s-streets-in-coronavirus-lockdown.

Sparks, Hannah. “Venice Canals Are Crystal Clear after Coronavirus Lockdown in Italy.” New York Post, New York Post, 18 Mar. 2020, nypost.com/2020/03/18/venice-canals-are-crystal-clear-after-coronavirus-lockdown-in-italy/.

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4 replies »

  1. Great article Abeera on COVID-19’s impact on the environment. It’s always good to look at the positive side of things. Thanks for sharing this.

    Like

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