By Donovan Levine
Posts have been floating around suggesting that, due to several world governments putting their countries on lockdown and significantly reducing human activity, nature has already responded at an incredibly swift pace.
Dolphins returned to the canals of Venice, smog has lifted from Los Angeles, China’s nitrogen dioxide density has been reduced to nil and in Kutztown blackhawks have returned and taken over south campus. (They’re annoyingly loud.)
What has changed?
It’s too early to measure the full effect of the lockdown on the environment, but there have been noticeable and measurable changes in air and water pollution. As reported by BBC, scientists measured CO2 emissions dropped 50% and continue falling after traffic levels dropped 35% in New York City, one of the world’s biggest conglomerates of CO2 emissions.
Air pollution, observed with NASA’s satellites, has also seen drop-offs in both China and Italy, all of this seemingly a reaction to less car, boat and aviation traffic. The amount of fuel used has also dipped significantly, and gas prices have been dropping everywhere, the U.S. especially.
What does this mean?
It means human activity has a dauntingly visible impact on the earth, and anyone who didn’t believe it before should believe it now. But, it also means that certain climate change activists and scientists predicting a ‘doomsday’ outcome for the world in the near future may have to do some re-evaluating–given how quickly these changes have come.
It also means that when environmental concerns do reach such a dangerous level, we know how quickly we can react if we meet it with the same seriousness we met this virus with.
“As we move to restart these economies, we need to use this moment to think about what we value,” says Jacqueline Klopp, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University. “Do we want to go back to the status quo, or do we want to tackle these big structural problems and restructure our economy and reduce emissions and pollution?”
Will this last?
It’s hard to say what the effects will be once the world ‘turns back on’ and people resume life as normal, but there are many lessons to be learned from the lockdown, and it helps to keep a keen eye on changes such as these.