While it might be challenging to see the COVID-19 pandemic in good light, there have been some positives resulting from the lockdown. This shows that even the darkest of clouds have a silver lining. Although the full effect of the lockdown is yet to be felt, and some of the effects are far from positive. We will be looking at some of the ways the environment has benefitted from the lockdown this #WorldEnvironmentDay.
Positive impacts of the lockdown
Air quality has improved globally
This is a no-brainer. If nothing else improves, one thing you should not be surprised to see getting better is the air purity and quality around the world. Carbon emissions have dropped remarkably worldwide due to travel bans and restriction of movements because of the lockdown.
The importance of the change in air quality is not lost on us, as the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that well over four million people lose their lives due to air pollution every year.
China can already feel the change in air quality where the carbon emissions have reduced by 25%. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air reported that China produced about 200 million fewer tons of carbon dioxide than it did in the same period in 2019.
Water quality has improved globally.
The same way fewer people flying led to a reduction in air pollution is mirrored in the same way fewer people using the waterways led to an increased water quality globally.
One of such places where this change can be noticed is Venice. Shortly after the quarantine was set in motion, the canal experienced greater water flow and the water in the canals cleared. This change in flow and water quality was due to the settling of sediments that would have been otherwise disturbed by boat traffic along the waterways.
People staying at home means wildlife have begun to claim back the outdoors. Some animals have been seen in places they would not ordinarily be due to human presence. One such example is Sea turtles that have been seen laying eggs at places like the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
The lockdown has caused the demand for fish to plummet. And with idly sitting fishing fleets around the world, the population of fish (like the herring) is expected to boom and potentially double in mass.
While this might not be a direct consequence of the pandemic or the lockdown, the unemployment necessitated Pakistan’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami campaign. This campaign is geared towards making up for the global net loss of trees over a span of five years.
Positive impact on environmental monitoring
You might not have thought the lockdown and reduction in economic activity would make it easier to detect earthquakes and volcanic activity, but it does and by as much as 50%. This is because of the reduction in transportation/traffic, industrial activity and general noise.
This makes it easier for natural seismic noise to be read relatively easier than before, making us better prepared to predict and react to volcanic activity and earthquakes.
Another area the lockdown has helped is with weather forecasts. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) announced that there would be an increase in the accuracy of the weather forecasts as a result of the reduction in commercial flights.
Increase in telecommuting
It seemed like a disaster at the beginning of the lockdown when people had to work from home. Their schedules were thrown into jeopardy, and it was pretty much a case of fish out of the water. However, as time went on, people began to get used to the idea of working from home and the numbers stack up when compared to working in the office.
On average, telecommuting uses 32% less paper, 40% fewer emissions and uses about 20% less energy than when workers are in the office. With a significant reduction in the number of cars on the road, it seems like telecommuting just might be here to stay.
Where does that leave us?
It is impossible to know for sure how long these benefits will last.
The million-dollar question is do the positives outweigh the negatives?
Hopefully, the virus and its effects will be gone soon and you can sit back, relax and enjoy the warm summer sun on one of the Brickhouse Farm Cottages.