The Pandemic and the Planet | Cole Colleran
The coronavirus has fundamentally altered almost all aspects of Americans’ lives. From no longer being able to attend sporting events to schools being closed, all aspects of our existence have been severely impacted. It can be easy to feel depressed or scared during this crisis. With that said, it’s crucial to stay positive during this time, because rarely does something good come from being down and having negative thoughts and feelings. It is understandable that life isn’t the same, and for many, happiness seems bleak. However, there are many things the United States and its citizens can take from this situation in a positive light. One of the biggest bright spots that has come from this pandemic is the environmental relief that has occurred.
The environment’s health is crucial not only to our everyday lives, but the wellbeing of humanity as a whole. Before this pandemic emerged, the ecosystems around the world seemed to be in severe danger of being destroyed from human activities. Pollution on land and in the ocean was causing millions of plants, animals, fish, and other wildlife to perish. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, over one million species were at risk of extinction due to climate change. That being said, during this time of shutdowns, the environment has been given the ability to heal somewhat.
One of the many places around the world where there has been a drastic revival of the environment is India. Prior to the lockdown, air pollution in India was extremely intolerable. One type of particle that is extremely harmful to the human respiratory system is PM 2.5. This is a very small particle that is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. One of the main producers of this chemical is automobiles and power plants. To give context, The World Health Organization considers any pollutant at 25 micrograms per square meter to be harmful. Before the lockdown, specifically on March 20, the PM 2.5 level in the Capital, New Delhi, was 91 micrograms per square meter. Seven days later, on March 27, the level had decreased from 71% to 26 micrograms per square meter. The decrease in PM 2.5 levels by no means resulted from a positive circumstance. However, the speed at which the levels dropped illustrates that humans have the power to better the environment.
Another location where there has been a noticeable environmental change is Venice, Italy. Previously, the city had been a victim of boatloads of tourists. With so many people going in and out of the canals and the surrounding city, the wildlife has been deteriorating at an increasing rate. However, back in March when Italy went into lockdown, tourism was subsequently halted. Soon after that occurred, there were reports that the water was becoming much clearer and fish, as well as water plants, were being spotted for the first time in what seemed to be decades. The lack of motorboats and activity in the water allowed for these changes to occur.
The pandemic has been devastating to many–there is no question about that. The loss of human lives is something that in no way can be compensated for. In addition, the economies around the world have been severely impacted causing mass panic in many countries. With all of that said, the environment resurgence we’ve seen in some of the most populated cities in the world may be a sign that we need, and can, make changes that will restore ecosystems across the world. This is an uncertain time, but if we look at the positives and act on them, things can vastly improve.