Many people are aware of the global tragedies that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing in the world. While the seriousness of the situation should not be ignored, Kennesaw State students can find solace in the positives that come from decreased human activity on Earth amid this pandemic.
Cars and trucks are the main sources of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere, according to the Hill. Satellite images from NASA show a decrease in nitrogen dioxide emissions in American metropolitan areas. Decreases in pollution can be seen specifically in the Atlanta area, according to satellite images in a ProPakistani article. These decreases in the Atlanta area have the potential to directly improve air quality for Kennesaw State students.
As a result of travel bans, a stalling global economy and falls in the stock market, global emissions have decreased drastically, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation. With fewer people commuting to and from work, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation have starkly decreased.
Sustainability science researcher Kimberly Nicholas theorizes that this may signify a change in work commuting in the future, which has the potential to keep greenhouse gas emissions lower, according to the BBC.
Continuing to decrease gas emissions is essential in securing a safe and stable future for generations to come. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions holds many benefits, including curbing the effects of climate change, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
In Georgia, these effects are likely to manifest as floods, droughts, crop failures and poor air quality, according to the EPA. With decreased carbon emissions as a result of changes from COVID-19, Georgia residents — including KSU students — are likely to benefit personally in the long term.
Pollution has also decreased globally. Air pollution in China has been up to 30 percent lower than it typically is, according to The Guardian. Other major countries such as Italy and South Korea have also seen major falls in air pollution, as human activity has decreased remarkably. Improving air quality in metropolitan areas is beneficial, as it is likely to improve the quality of life for residents of these areas.
There has been footage circulating onlind about clearer canals in Venice, Italy. Less boat movement in the water leaves the sediment undisturbed, but water quality in the canals has not actually improved according to CNN. Contrastly, air quality has continued to improve in Italy due to the restricted movements of its citizens amid COVID-19.
The notoriously smog-filled city of Los Angeles has also seen its longest stretch of “good” air quality since 1995, according to New York Daily News. UCLA Professor and researcher Dr. Yifang Zhu feels that the changes spurred by COVID-19 can translate to progress in the future, which can provide students hope during these difficult times.
“From the society level, I think we need to think really hard about how to bring about a more sustainable world, where technologies and policies come together to bring us cleaner energy,” Zhu said in an interview with CNN. “So that the air that we’re breathing will stay as clean as what we’re breathing today.”
The global health crisis caused by COVID-19 is a serious problem. Scientists around the world are banding together to find ways to stop this virus as they learn more about it every day. The impact of COVID-19 will undoubtedly have a large impact on the global community. Hopefully, students have the chance to look to the environmental impacts of the pandemic as a chance for a more sustainable future.
Bryanna Walker contributed to this article.