Covid-19 and the Environment
By: Tiffany Lam
Like many others during this pandemic, I am isolating myself within the four walls of my own home. With such little interaction with the outside world, I couldn’t help but notice how the air seemed especially fresh on my walk. This could be because I’ve only been breathing in the little amount of fresh oxygen my house plants produce, but then again, we aren’t exactly living in normal times.
As humanity takes a break from its daily routines, and people are adjusting to a new normal, something notable is happening. With a decrease in human activity, the environment is getting a well needed night's rest.
One of the most significant changes observed is how China’s air pollution has dropped by roughly a quarter over these past months. China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, where air pollution contributes to more than one million premature deaths every year. On a side note, you may also have heard about the clearing of the canals in Venice. Due to less boat traffic on the canals, the sediment has been able to stay at the bottom. While the city's water may not have magically become cleaner, with fewer water taxis and boats moving during the pandemic, people are able to witness a scene they may never have seen before.
Despite seeing such positive results, the latest analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), only expects a 6-8% drop in this year’s annual emissions. Even though we should be optimistic, such a small drop in emissions would have little to no effect on the world’s carbon concentration.
So maybe the air isn’t all that much fresher, but at least it’s a start.