The Environment is Making a Comeback


Coyotes have recently been spotted near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA, for the first time since 2002, according to Business Insider. Image labeled for reuse by Flickr.

COVID-19 has slowed the planet to a standstill. Schools are closed, people are working from home, the stock market has crashed, thousands of people have lost their jobs, and half the population isn’t leaving their homes. The pandemic is absolutely unprecedented and it’s got a lot of people looking towards a wildly uncertain future.

However, the news isn’t all bad. With an unprecedented pandemic, an unprecedented amount of people all over the world are dramatically changing the way they live their lives. People staying home means they’re traveling less. Pollution levels are already beginning to go down.

According to The Guardian, “In China, the world’s biggest source of carbon, emissions were down about 18% between early February and mid-March”.

Global carbon emissions are already falling. One of the reasons for this is the lack of car travel. If people aren’t leaving their neighborhoods, they’re driving less, which means they’re using less gas and putting less carbon into the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide is the primary concern when it comes to climate change. It is one of many greenhouse gases emitted by the earth and the living things on it. When it is released into the atmosphere, it acts almost like the wall of a greenhouse, hence the name “greenhouse effect”. The gas traps the heat radiating off of the planet, which heats up the atmosphere.  I touched on the topic in another article earlier this year.

The sudden decrease in carbon emissions is a very good sign. A surprising and positive side effect of the pandemic is that we’re actually buying ourselves more time to essentially fix the planet. Another positive side effect is that we now have an idea of how easy it is to do so.

If a few weeks of social distancing can make such a big impact, imagine what we could accomplish if we continued environmentally friendly practices such as driving less (riding a bike or carpooling whenever possible are great alternatives).

The biggest question we face now is how long it’ll last.

Once the pandemic is over, life will undoubtedly be changed, but will we keep up some of these habits, or will we continue where we left off?

The good news is that, regardless of how we proceed in the future, we’ve bought ourselves more time. Years of damage has slowed and even stopped, giving us a chance to really fix things.

An optimist would say that this has made quite a few people see the light, in regard to the situation. The evidence for a simple solution to all our climate change issues is hard to deny. Our planet, resilient as it is, bounces back quickly when given an opportunity to do so.

However, people have been begging governments and corporations to do something about climate change and the damage we’re doing to our earth for years. For the most part, those pleas have been ignored. There has been very little effort to move from fossil fuels to sustainable energy, even in the face of overwhelming environmental issues.

When it comes down to it, only time will tell. There’s no good way to predict what the world will do when the COVID-19 pandemic has passed because the situation is unprecedented. All we, as individuals, can do is our best. Finding ways to be part of the positive change isn’t as difficult as some people make it out to be. It can be as simple as doing things like meatless Mondays or trying vegetarianism or veganism. It can be as simple as riding your bike or carpooling, or giving unwanted clothes to a thrift store rather than throwing them away.

No matter how we do it, it’s important we all stay as positive and optimistic as we can during these difficult times. Things are hard right now, but it won’t last forever.