How A Global Pandemic Is Impacting The Environment

Isolation and social distancing are necessary for our health, and obeying these rules and recommendations is having a significant impact on the planet. 

Environment and Climate Change Canada tells CTV News that air pollution is down 40% in many Canadian cities. 

Scientists say that since mid-March, when provinces closed businesses and public spaces, satellite maps have shown drops in nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide is a gas produced by burning fossil fuels.

The situation is the same around much of the world. International air quality technology company IQAir says ten cities are experiencing drops of fine particles, known as PM2.5. 

In April, PM2.5 was down 60% in Dehli, 54% in Seoul, 31% in Los Angeles, and 25% in New York City compared with the same period in 2019.

With factories closed and air and vehicle traffic all but disappearing, carbon emissions are dropping rapidly

  • In China, they’re down 18% (250 million tons). 
  • Europe predicts a drop of 350 million tons. 
  • The forecasts are similar in North America.
  • Waterways heavily polluted by cruise ships and freighters have had the chance to clear, like the Venice canal.   

Research recently published in journal Nature Climate Change says global CO2 emissions could drop by as much as 7% this year. 


Long-term Impacts?

Of course, this is all likely very temporary, as the worldwide lockdown won’t last forever, and staying home all the time isn’t possible.

But the impact on our health is enormous. Experts say that cleaner air, even if only for a few weeks, can reduce asthma and heart attacks.

Governments and citizens have the perfect opportunity to think about how we can move towards cleaner ways of living. 

Do we need to jump in our cars and sit in traffic for hours to get to work? Teleworking is proving we don’t. Do we need multiple outings a week to buy more things we don’t need? The answer is no. 

Many companies, including Twitter, Facebook, and Shopify, have recently announced that either most or all of their employees will be working from home permanently. 

Not to mention, the pandemic has sparked global interest in the grow your own movement.  

These are terrible and scary times, no doubt. But at least some good can be found in the current situation. 

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Catherine Sherriffs

Editor at Garden Culture Magazine

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her three young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.