Save the Planet: Is There Really a Light Amidst all this Darkness?

Are there any positives that have occurred thanks to the coronavirus pandemic?

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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.

Ambulances roam the streets, gathering those in danger. Policemen are constantly on duty guarding and protecting the people. Doctors and nurses panic as they receive more patients and fewer ventilators. 

Meanwhile, the non-essential worker population is trapped in their houses, and the world faces a sickness unlike any other. It began with few concerned people and quickly became a worldwide disaster. The news channels report as the number of deaths and cases increase. Stuck in confusion, the government rethinks their every action and hesitates as the population continues to suffer. People, desperate for answers, turn to the Internet and find more than they had hoped for, for better or worse.

Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Keylon, a bio-environmental engineering technician with the 137th Special Operations Medical Group, Oklahoma Air National Guard, administers a N95 medical mask fit test to Oklahoma Army National Guard Pvt. Connor Boal, a medic with the Oklahoma Army National Guard Medical Detachment, as part of COVID-19 medical response training at the 90th Troop Command Headquarters in Oklahoma City, April 10 – 11.

Despite all the devastating headlines, there are also some positive ones: the ones about carbon emissions and how this virus might just be the climate action we all pushed for. However, that’s not all true. 

Indeed, there has been a reduction in the number of greenhouse gases, specifically in each individual’s production. As people sit at home, angry at the virus for the quarantine it has led them to be in and the difficulty it has put them through, it is important to remember that it has also had a major positive effect on our environment, leading even some to think that this devastation brought upon the world is a secret medicine for the pollution humans have created and destruction they have brought upon the planet.

China and Italy have dealt with a lot of damages, but their reduction in air pollution is a light in all of the darkness. China and Italy’s air pollution account for many deaths per year, but this year that number has reduced greatly thanks to the lack of pollution in the air. However, those lives are still overlooked thanks to the deaths caused by the virus. Therefore, although it may seem odd and unfortunate that people are dying, the reality of the situation is that these deaths are frequent every year, not from the new virus, but from the past hypothetical ‘virus’ created by people’s excessive production of pollution and greenhouse gases.

Though there are many positives in the environment, COVID-19 has also led to the slowing of many jobs, notably airline services. This might seem like a benefit in terms of environmental health, but it is ultimately detrimental as it is slowing the efforts to cut airlines’ greenhouse gas emissions. This means the benefit of this quarantine is short term and is affecting the long term actions that airlines were aiming to achieve, like finding a solution to lower their contribution to global pollution and enacting them. Now it will be harder, as business is slower and the income during this time is unstable and lower than usual for airline companies. 

Along with the airline industry difficulty, many shops and areas are bringing back plastic bags that were recently put on hold. Plastic bag service in stores was recently eliminated in many communities, and they encouraged the reuse of plastic bags from home and made people pay for bags if they needed them. This had a great effect on the environment as it reduced our plastic waste; however, now industries are arguing that plastic bags save us from health issues, and therefore are bringing back plastic bags, ruining our recent efforts to stop pollution. 

Moreover, though it may seem like there is a great reduction in production, staying at home does not guarantee any carbon footprint. Turning on the heater and using excessive electricity that is usually not used when we are out of the house still creates a carbon footprint that is just as significant, if not more significant, than our normal lives.

  Staying at home has also led many climate activists to turn to virtual protests. This has slowed their efforts and made their protests less effective than they were before. However, knowing climate activists, they are not likely to stop their efforts and will find their way around the challenges they are encountering.

The world is fighting its battle, and we are fighting ours. Just because pollution is reducing doesn’t mean we should stop our efforts to be more environmentally friendly. We must continue to be eco-friendly, and our planet needs us now more than ever. Stay safe, and stay healthy. I would also like to give a thank you to those working tirelessly to get this world back on its feet.

I will do my part and I hope you do yours.