The Good News? Environment Improves Due To Coronavirus

As a result of less travel and more self-isolation, pollution levels are dropping all over the world, and the environment is thriving.

Swans swimming lazily through canals in Venice. Dolphins playing near coastlines in Italy that are usually clogged with cruise ships.

These are the images that have been popping up on social media as countries go on lock down due to the coronavirus.

Areas that are usually croweded with people are seeing huge improvements in air quality and record low CO2 levels, all thanks to humans being forced to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus.

Swans return to swim in canals in Venice, thanks to less traffic on the waterways. @ikaveri

While returning wildlife has been a sign of hope for those who have been struggling to remain positive during the crisis, experts say these changes may only be temporary.

"The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom," a spokesman from the Venice mayor's office told CNN. "It's because there is less [of the] boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water's surface."

That still hasn't stopped people from marveling at the opportunity to see swarms of fish returning to the canals after not seeing them for years.

Fish have returned to the waterways in Venice, Italy. @AurelBoriciBT

"Nature resumes its life....how beautiful," Maria Lanaro wrote on social media.

Likewise, places all over the world are seeing record low levels of CO2 in the atmosphere due to less air and ground travel.

"New York has had exceptionally high carbon monoxide numbers for the last year and a half," Róisín Commane, a professor at Columbia University, told BBC.com. "And this is the cleanest I have ever seen it. It's is less than half of what we normally see in March."

While experts worry that emissions levels will shoot back up once the coronavirus crisis passes, they're hopeful that some of the stimulus money being provided by the government will be put toward clean energy – like renovating buildings and putting in heat pumps and electric charges.

Air pollution over areas like China and New York have dropped drastically since the coronavirus. @BrookeKanani

Environmentalists also hope that some businesses will keep allowing people to work from home to avoid a spike in carbon emissions levels.

While there's certainly always time to worry about the future, we're just glad that folks are getting some happiness from watching swans float along the canals in Italy, or gazing at blue skies in Wuhan.

Hopefully, once the pandemic is over, people will remember these images and consider changing their habits so that we have a much cleaner world in the future.

How can you start something good?

We can all do our part to help keep the environment clean during the coronavirus and beyond.

While self-isolating is certainly part of it, we should still be recycling, avoiding single use plastics and using our cars to travel only when absolutely necessary. And if you're stocking up on toilet paper and paper towels, why not opt for more sustainable products?

Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

The Conversation
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