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Pandemic Environmental Effects | |

Pandemic Environmental Effects | |

Photos from around world showed a planet that was temporarily saved from the ravages caused by pollution in the early days of global lockdowns.

Clear skies dominated India, with major Los Angeles freeways deserted. Mountain goats were also seen roaming the streets of Wales.

It was a glimpse of what was possible for environmentalists.

Positive Impacts

The World Economic Forum reported in April 2020 that almost 3 billion people were under lockdown. This led to significant decreases in commuter and leisure travel and reduced pollution-causing industries. According to the National Institutes of Health, greenhouse gas emissions fell by as much as half between New York and China. Many cities also reported improved air quality, and less water pollution. According to the NIH, vehicle and air traffic contribute 72% and 11% respectively to greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, oil demand fell by 435,000 barrels during the first quarter 2020.

The reduction in noise pollution and ecological restoration at tourist destinations was also a result of the return of dolphins to the Bay of Bengal, and the canals of Italy.

Negative Impacts

According to the NIH, the environmental benefits of the lockdown were partially offset by pandemic-related issues such as improper disposal PPE (including face masks and gloves) and a large increase in hospital waste.

Disposable surgical masks are made of plastic and cannot be recycled. Although single-use PPE is required in medical environments, the World Health Organization recommends that patients use three-layer reusable cloth Masks.

Due to safety concerns, many countries banned the use of plastic shopping bags and reusable cups during the pandemic. This led to a decline in the adoption of these environmentally-friendly practices.

The Way Forward

The BBC reports that the drops in CO2 seen during the lockdowns around the world would need to be repeated each and every year between now 2050 for net-zero emissions.

See Also

Scientists warned that the environmental changes brought on by the pandemic would not last and that the situation will return to normal after lockdowns end. However, this does not mean that there are no lessons to be learned.

According to the European Environment Agency, a report was issued saying that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the interrelationships between our natural systems and our social systems. Society resilience is dependent on a resilient environment support system.

Future pandemics can be stopped by improving the environment. According to the EEA, zoonotic diseases are more likely when there is a loss of biodiversity and intensive food systems.

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