COVID-19 has generated an unprecedented impact in most countries of the world. In fact, the virus has affected almost all 213 countries on the planet, it’s spread to more than 2 million people, and caused around 130,000 deaths. Currently, most countries have tried to fight the spread of the virus with massive COVID-19 screening tests and as for local government, establishing public policies or orders, for social distancing. It’s evident that the priority revolves around the general population’s health. With COVID-19 still actively and aggressively spreading, it has had a significant impact on our environment. COVID-19, being the depressing pandemic it is, has caused our environment to be subject to multiple positive and negative influences of change, all stemming from one major aspect: quarantine, the decrease in public affairs outside their homes.
For this reason, the indirect impact of the virus on the environment has been little analyzed. The first studies estimated a positive indirect impact on the environment. On the one hand, climate experts predict that greenhouse gas emissions could drop to proportions never before seen, since World War II. This outcome is mainly a result of the social distancing policies adopted by the governments following the appearance of the pandemic.
There are both positive and negative indirect effects of COVID-19 on the environment, particularly in the most affected and vulnerable countries such as China, USA, Italy, and Spain. There is research that shows that there is a significant association between contingency measures, improvement in air quality, clean beaches, and environmental noise reduction. On the contrary, there are negative aspects, such as the reduction in recycling and the increase in waste, both of which are endangering the contamination of physical spaces such as water and land. Luckily, global economic activity is expected to return in the coming months in most countries.
At the moment, increased struggles with our environment raise some concerns, some of which include air and water pollution, climate change, and global warming. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, almost every big and small city is totally or partially locked down for an extended period of time. Furthermore, all local and central administrations have put a ban on free movement of their citizens outside their home in order to avoid gatherings of people together. There have been efforts to restrict transmission of COVID-19, mainly by restricting the movement which has had an outstanding environmental effect. Due to the non-functioning of industries, industrial waste emission has decreased to a large extent. Vehicles are hardly found on the roads, ultimately resulting in zero emission of green-house gases and toxic tiny suspended particles to the environment. Due to lesser demand for and in power in industries, the use of fossil fuels, or conventional energy sources have been lowered considerably. Ecosystems are being greatly recovered. In many large cities, the inhabitants are experiencing a clear sky for the first time in their lives. The pollution level in tourist spots such as forests, sea beaches, and hill areas is also shrinking largely. The pandemic has displayed its consequences on human civilization, on one hand it has executed worldwide destruction, but created an impact on the world environment in a positive and negative way.