The Benefits of Covid-19: Part 2


Photo of a flower taken by Megan Gunter to represent the improving environment.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, schools, workplaces, and shops all around the world have been closed in an attempt to contain the virus. Social distancing is more essential than ever as “stay at home” orders have been issued in various countries and states. However, this attempt to slow the spread of the virus has actually had several unexpected, yet positive benefits for the environment.

Social distancing brought the bustles of automobiles and factories to a slow all over the world, causing reduced pollution levels in many countries. There has been a decrease in atmospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in multiple countries. Nitrogen dioxide is a pollutant that is mainly created by vehicles as they burn fuel. This harmful gas has decreased in countries all over, such as China, Barcelona, Madrid, and northern Italy. The usage of vehicles slowed with the placement of quarantine. While this is not a long-term solution for environmental issues, this side-effect has lessened the devastating impact of pollution on the environment and people’s health. Overall this benefits the world, even if only for a short period of time. This unexpected effect provides a small victory for the world against the virus, inspiring hope in people across the globe. 

From a more local standpoint, environmental factors in large cities such as New York have been enhanced with social distancing. As the busy streets and subways of the city rushed to a stop, carbon dioxide levels in New York decreased by 5-10%. Even Houston has experienced a decrease in carbon emissions of both carbon monoxide and dioxide with the decrease of traffic on major highways and roads. 

Additionally, quarantine brought countless other beneficial side effects for the environment, such as the cleaner canals in Venice. After having murky, polluted waters for years, the canals are clearer than they have ever been. This decrease in pollutants brings forth yet another victory for the world and provides positivity amongst all of the chaos.

Being thrown into this situation because of COVID-19 is very frightening and bleak, yet seeing the countless benefits brings about optimism related to the situation. These benefits that have arisen from dire circumstances may change our view on climate change forever – and the virus.