Is COVID-19 a blessing in disguise?

How the environment has changed all around the world as a result of quarantine.

Two+side+by+side+pictures+showing+the+difference+of+nitrogen+dioxide+between+January+and+February+in+China+of+the+same+year.

NASA and the European Space Agency

Two side by side pictures showing the difference of nitrogen dioxide between January and February in China of the same year.

Editor’s Note: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this opinion article belong solely to the author and do not reflect the view of The Colt Chronicle Staff, Kinnelon High School, or its students and staff members.

A pandemic that has swept thousands of innocent lives off of this planet; who would have thought that this would be the way everyone would start their new year?

First, it was China. Then, it was Italy. Now it has finally hit home. America has the most confirmed cases in the world as of now. As a result, many people have been forced to stay in their homes for their own safety, and therefore,  many businesses have temporarily closed. With everything is shutting down, what is happening to the environment? Well, the environment is actually benefiting from the deadly virus.

 

Screenshot by: Heidi Scherer-Blake
Medellin, Colombia’s air quality stations indicating that it is favorable.

In China, the nitrous oxide levels- which is a pollutant released from fossil fuels- in the air have gone down immensely. Not only have these levels gone down but the amount of CO2 in the air has decreased by 25%, according to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), an air pollution research organization. This is a lot, considering China is the world’s number one greenhouse gas polluter (this means they release the most harmful gasses into the atmosphere than any other country in the world). They release  30% of the world’s CO2 emissions every year; but China is not the only place with pollution problems.

Italy’s canals are clearer than ever, according to a report by CNN. The water is so clear that you can see the fish underneath the water. It seems the air has also cleared up due to the factories and cars not emitting pollutants into the air.

In Bogota, Colombia, the air is the cleanest that it has been in the past few years. Out of 13 air quality stations throughout the city, 11 of them reported favorable conditions while the other two have reported immoderate conditions. This is due to the quarantine that has been occurring. With everyone staying inside, the amount of CO2 released into the air by the factories and cars decreases incredibly. Medellin, Colombia is another city that is receiving cleaner air because of the quarantine. All 21 air quality stations have been reported a favorable, according to the Colombian authorities, this is the best quality they have seen all year.

So is this virus a blessing in disguise? For some, this virus is a wake-up call and it is a sign that we should take action against climate change. But the real question is: Is the world going to change its ways for the better after the effects of COVID-19, or is this pollution decrease only going to last for a short period of time?