Is the Covid-19 Pandemic Harming the Environment?

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During the pandemic, there has been an increase in plastic consumption and consumer waste.

During first months Covid-19, the air pollution in China drastically decreased.

As you already know, the global pandemic of Covid-19 has affected the lives of everyone across the world in multiple ways. However, not only has Covid-19 impacted humankind, but it has impacted Mother Nature as well. Since the planet’s health is highly influenced by humans, travel restrictions and sudden changes in human activity have certainly shown through the environment. The scientific world has been observing and recording environmental changes throughout the course of the current pandemic. Nevertheless, it is still questionable whether or not Covid-19 has had an overall positive environmental impact or negative impact, or possibly both.
In March and April of 2020, the early stages of the world’s “shut down,” it seemed that a sudden decrease in human activity was benefiting the environment in many ways. Big cities noticed visibly clearer air and decreased air pollution as a result of less transportation and industrial plants being shut down. In China, the presence of PM 2.5 (Particulate Matter) in the air dropped by 20-30%. Additionally, drops in NO2 occurred during these months in China, Rome, Madrid, and Paris, which happened to be some of the first locations to quarantine citizens. Another positive impact is noticeably cleaner water sources. Public beaches that were packed with people daily suddenly became deserted, leading to significantly less waste pollution in the water. A specific example is the waters of Venice. Because the mass of tourist boats on the water disappeared due to travel bans, the canal waters became beautifully transparent, unlike anything Venetians have seen in decades.
Although the first perception of Covid-19’s environmental impact seems positive, that began to change into the late summer and now. Because manufacturers are far behind due to Covid-19 delays, many factories are currently rushing to make up for lost time, according to National Geographic. Additionally, environmental restrictions within companies have weakened and/or are being ignored since most companies during this time are in need of an economic boost. Because of these reasons, air pollution rates are now just as bad as they were pre-Covid. And in some cities, evidence shows that the pollution rates may be worse than ever before, meaning we could be headed down a dangerous road. In addition to these negative effects, quarantine has also caused an increase in consumer waste. Now that many people are not able to go shopping or eat at restaurants, packaging from online orders and food deliveries have created great quantities of waste that are immediately disposed of after use. Overflowing hospitals also means more medical waste being thrown out, too. To make matters worse, many recycling programs around the world have been shut down during the pandemic, specifically in the United States.
In summary, the Covid-19 quarantine led to immediate environmental benefits. But, as the world begins to approach normalcy once again, pollution and waste disposal rates are beginning to skyrocket more than ever. The recent leniency for enforcing environmental protection needs to come to an end as soon as possible. We, as humanity, must realize that even in these difficult times, we cannot forget that Mother Nature’s health is just as important as our own.

During the pandemic, there has been an increase in plastic consumption and consumer waste.