COVID-19’s Impact on the Environment

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Mika Maynard, Writer

Despite the tragedies COVID-19 has brought to our daily lives, there is one positive outcome of this deadly disease: environments internationally have been improving from the lack of waste being distributed into them.

With the lack of manufacturing, waste plants, air pollution, and much more, our environment is finally taking a well-deserved break from all of the suffering we have put it through. Scientists have begun using information from NASA’s Earth-observing satellites as a way to study the environmental, economic, and societal impacts of COVID-19. The agency’s Earth Science Division recently sponsored new projects to examine how the shutdowns as a result of the pandemic are changing our atmosphere to determine what (or if any) natural environmental phenomena might impact the spread of the virus.

“NASA has a unique role to play in response to this crisis,” NASA’s program manager for Health and Air Quality Applications, John Haynes, stated. “As we continue to collect Earth-observing satellite data on a global scale, we can aid in the understanding of global changes resulting from the pandemic, as well as investigate potential environmental signals that may influence the spread of COVID-19.”

However, just because we have seen our environment improve slightly does not mean it’s time to start celebrating, as these effects are only temporary.

“It’s hardly a sustainable way to reduce emissions,” said Li Shuo, senior climate and energy policy officer at Greenpeace in Beijing.

The positive changes this pandemic has brought onto the environment in such a short period of time have the potential of being completely wiped out by the time businesses begin to open their doors again. In an effort to increase productivity, sales, and governments around the world feeling the need to jump-start their most massive companies in order to fix their economies prematurely, these small steps that were accidentally taken that improved the world we live in can be reversed in only a matter of days.

Despite this reality, many researchers of climate change believe this could cause a lasting impact– not immediately on the environment, but on the people witnessing the changes right before their eyes.

“It… shows that at the national, or international level, if we need to take action we can,” said Donna Green, an associate professor at University of New South Wales’s Climate Change Research Centre in New Zealand. “So why haven’t we for climate? And not with words, with real actions.”

While these positive changes on the environment will most likely come and go, this proves one thing to environmentalists and those who believed it could never be done– if promising strides are taken to improve our environment over a long period of time, we will finally see the change nature deserves.