COVID-19 has struck 2020 in a powerful rage, with hundreds of thousands of cases and countless deaths. As economies, businesses and individuals face the looming uncertainty of this pandemic, it is difficult to imagine any positives to come out of this event. However, in these dark times, many are finding solace from their self-isolation to focus on the unexpected benefits arising from this global pandemic.
It seems like overnight the entire world has experienced a change in daily routine due to COVID-19, from strict handwashing regiments to the reduction of travel and social gatherings for the sake of global health. The pandemic has without a doubt affected all aspects of daily life, including our carbon footprints as social distancing reigns and businesses all around the world, shut their doors to prevent the spread of the contagion. While streets empty, factories close down and flights are grounded – the environment has flourished with a break from the everyday pressures of human life. Mother nature herself has been able to breathe again.
While the February lockdown in China was in effect, pollution-monitoring satellites operated by NASA and the European Space Agency observed drastic decreases in air pollution covering the country’s radius. Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland has stated that the restrictions contributed to a 25% drop in China’s carbon dioxide emissions. You can see for yourself on NASA Earth’s Instagram they compared a week period from 2020 with the period but in 2019.
Research indicates that pollution levels have similarly decreased over Italy, which has become the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe. Myllyvirta’s analysis confirmed that due to the halt in industrial operations coal consumption at power plants fell by 36%. Overall, scientists have stated that richer research will be conducted regarding the different heat-trapping greenhouse gases that drive global warming due to the reduction in pollution levels since the isolation.
The decrease in water transport has led to undisturbed sediment and the decrease of litter, making water in canals clearer and healthier. The lack of people surrounding the water banks and streets in cities have also made creatures of both land and sea feel more at home in their natural environment.
Animals Take Back the Land
Venice has welcomed back a host of wildlife since Italy’s lockdown began, for the first time in decades the water in Venice has run clear and fish, as well as dolphins, have been seen frolicking in the canals and other parts of Italy. Venice is not the only city seeing its wildlife enjoying the quiet streets, in Rome ducks are puddling around in the world-famous Trevi Fountain. Whilst in Sassari (home to 127,525 residents) wild boars have been seen gallivanting in the city streets.
Due to the speculations of the pandemics origins, the illegal animal trade has been brought to the forefront – making the world realise trafficked animals should be considered a public health issue. While the legal and illegal animal trade in Asian countries and worldwide have been considered cruel long before this pandemic, only now is it being related to health issues. Since it is speculated that the source of coronavirus could be due to pangolins, bats and other creatures sold in an illegal market in Wuhan. A temporary ban on related animal markets (or wet markets as they are known) has been issued, closing down the animal trafficking sector all together.
Wild creatures are not the only animals benefiting from human isolation, due to the pandemic domesticated animals in shelters around the world have been rehomed due to the shutdown of animal welfare institutions. Around the world the same trend has been seen, with a boom in foster and forever homes for our furry friends. Like minded and kind-hearted humans have taken on new responsibilities while staying at home – proving that no man (or animal) gets left behind.
The Power of Community
Acts of kindness spread amongst the gloom of the COVID-19 outbreak, with communities pulling together to help those who are threatened the most. Communities support their elderly residents by volunteering to take on their shopping needs and or offering transport to local stores that have adjusted their policies to create ‘elderly only shopping times’ – preventing this demographic from facing the life-threatening consequences of contracting the virus.
To boost morale, neighbours have initiated social distancing meetups on their driveways to feel a sense of camaraderie – sharing a cup of coffee together while still following isolation protocol. Creativity has boomed, as people face the boredom of being locked inside all day. Social media profiles such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok have come alive with entertaining user generated lockdown content. Such posts, memes and videos have led to encouraging online friendships and support – boosting the mental health of many feeling stuck in the negativity of the virus.
Not to say that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been a devastating blow globally, with brave essential workers sacrificing their health to work around the clock to ensure global safety. However, after months of worry and stress – it’s always nice to hear that even the darkest of clouds have a silver lining.