Environmental Benefits of COVID-19

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Kealia Victorino, Section Editor

After receiving countless negative updates on America’s current COVID-19 statistics, my outlook on our current situation has grown to be quite negative. However, it is important to remember that social distancing can have positive side effects in which the environment, wild animals, and our pets all benefit from. 

The climate change benefits of coronavirus are immense, starting with the mass reduction of carbon emissions, emissions that have been dramatically decreased due to the increased number of people working from home. Between February 3rd and March 1st, China experienced a 25% decrease in carbon emissions, a decrease that measures to an estimated 200 million tons of carbon. China’s coal consumption also dropped by 36% from February 3rd to March 1st. Additionally, air quality in both Italy and China have improved immensely. These significant changes were captured by NASA below.  

Many wild animals have been spotted exploring cities while people are staying indoors. While wild deer are normally fed by tourists in parks, they now freely roam the empty urban streets of Nara, Japan. In New Delhi and Thailand, monkeys have been congregating in front of shops in search of food. And right here in Oakland, Guardian editor Charlotte Simmonds spotted wild turkeys playing on the playground at the elementary school next door. 

A girl wearing a face mask looks at a sika deer at a temple on March 12, 2020 in Nara, Japan.

Rivers worldwide are appearing crystal clear for the first time in ages, revealing fish and other marine life. In Venice, many attribute the water clarity to the minimal traffic on the canals, which calm has allowed sediments within the water to settle. In San Antonio, Texas, occupants have also observed that their local waterways have cleared due to the cancellation of Go Rio Cruises and other activities. People are pointing out objects in the water like crabs and beads left over from Mardi Gras events in February. 

The coronavirus has also allowed for beautiful moments of solidarity amid isolation. Videos of Italians singing from windows have circulated the internet, and neighbors have been offering to aid each other with groceries through postcards or notices in apartment buildings. In Nevada, a medical student set up a group of “shopping angels” who deliver groceries to elderly citizens or those with compromised immune systems. Therapists have created platforms on social media to aid with increased anxiety and stress. One small organization, the Help Hub, made their online services available nationally through the support of therapists around the country. Hopefully hearing about these snippets of kindness and environmental healing among the chaos of a global pandemic improve the quality of your day! 

Francesco and Greta Innominati wave after placing a banner reading “Everything is gone be all right” out of a window of their apartment in Rome on March 13, 2020.