An unlikely friend to the environment

Covid-19 has shut down schools, restaurants, and businesses. But is it helping the environment?

On Dec. 31, 2019, a new virus, which would later be known as COVD-19, was reported in Wuhan, China. This virus caused a worldwide pandemic that resulted in most of the world being quarantined. The environmental impact during this time resulted in the improvement in the quality of air, cleaner rivers, and less noise pollution.

During quarantine, CO2 levels have dropped a significant amount. For example, studies show that daily global CO2 emissions decreased by seventeen percent by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels. At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by 26% on average.

Carbon dioxide isn’t the only thing that has gone down. Greenhouse gasses, such as NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), CO2 (carbon monoxide), SO2 (sulfur dioxide), and PM2.5 (small particulate matter) have plummeted since the quarantine began.

In a study of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers in India, they found that during quarantine, the Ganga river had a 500% decrease in sewage and industrial effluents after lockdown.

More than 80% of pollution in the Ganga river in India is due to domestic sewage from surrounding towns and villages. Because of the lockdown, the overall water quality of the Ganga River improved by 40–50% during this period.

Noise pollution is another big problem in large cities. Because of this, several studies have been conducted in various parts of India to assess the ambient noise level. They estimated that the noise level was reduced up to 35% to 68% from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in various major cities in India.

Lockdown also had an impact on our wildlife. Human confinement during lockdown gave space to animals and birds which were previously occupied by humans and their activities. It was noticed that all around the world animals such as deer, peacocks, monkeys, elephants, birds, dolphins, and many more were coming out into human-occupied areas more often and in greater numbers.