A look towards the pandemic’s brighter side


Masaaki Komori

Image via Unsplash

As John Krasinski says on his YouTube show “Good News,” rather than agreeing with the quote “the glass is half full rather than half empty,” we need to start living by it.

At least 160 million United States citizens have been urged to stay at home following the closures of schools, workplaces and businesses nationwide. Of the 160 million Americans, 88% of employees have been ordered to work remotely, abiding by the federal government’s social distancing guidelines, according to the New York Times. Despite the negativity surrounding the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) global outbreak, we should remain optimistic and look at the positive environmental effects brought on from our current situation.

Since workers are staying home and factories are closed down, a drastic increase in our planet’s air quality has been recorded worldwide. According to China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, there has been an 85.4% increase in days with good air quality between January and March in China, and satellite data from the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration shows a significant decline in nitrogen dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. In addition, New Delhi, India’s capital, has experienced a rapid change in air pollution since lockdown began in March. The reduction of planes, taxis, passenger trains and factories has caused particle pollution, considered the most harmful to human health, to decrease by 60 percent, according to an analysis by the Center for Science and Environment. Worldwide quarantine definitely served as the shift we needed to make for the sake of protecting our planet and opening our eyes to the impact our everyday actions have on Earth. Although we may not be able to go outside freely, we can appreciate these improvements while our world is slowly healing.

Since a large portion of our population has been confined to their homes this spring, animals have benefited immensely due to the reduction of human disturbance and pollution worldwide. Wild honey bees, which pollinate a third of the food we eat, have a global economic value of 150 billion dollars, according to a study by the University of Reading. Despite the recent decline in the bee population thanks to habitat loss, pollution and pesticides, bees have been making a comeback since quarantine started. Less toxic fumes emitting from cars on the road has made it easier for bees to locate food and floral scents, increasing the likelihood of their colonies’ survival. Also, since less cars have been driving along the roads, a significant decrease of vehicle related bee deaths has been recorded, which is one of the top leading reasons for insect population decrease. Bees are not the only animals benefiting from quarantine. According to CNN News, the lack of tourist traffic on Venice’s canals has allowed the sediment to stay on the bottom of the waterways, resulting in clearer, cleaner water. The canals are the clearest they have been in the last 60 years, and jellyfish, dolphins and fish have been spotted for the first time in a while. Because animal extinction is fueled by human disregard for wildlife, we should recognize the positive changes impacting animal species worldwide and carry out our behavioral changes to help keep the effects long-term.

While many may argue that these environmental benefits brought on from our current situation are not worth global quarantine and the struggles that accompany staying at home, people should understand that this lifestyle is only temporary and lockdown restrictions will lift as cases disperse. Life will eventually go back to normal, and when it does, we will get to enjoy a new, changed world, flourishing with cleaner air, less pollution and an abundance of healthy wildlife.

Instead of focusing on the negativity that accompanies these turbulent times, we should stay optimistic and focus on the positive outcomes brought on from our current situation. The lack of automobiles polluting our atmosphere, workers commuting to work everyday and tourist traffic harming our natural resources and environment has greatly impacted our planet and provides a little light in the current dark situation. Let’s take a moment to appreciate all the good things coming out of the situation around us.