COVID-19: How a Pandemic Changed Our Environment


Human life practically came to a standstill when social distancing, work from home and travel restrictions became the new normal. Amidst all the chaos, an unexpected silver lining has arisen from this sudden, world-shaking disruption: Our new forced behaviors have positively impacted mother nature and the health of our earth. COVID-19 practices have “hit the pause button” on carbon, allowing the world to rejuvenate in a wide variety of ways.

Carbon dioxide emissions have fallen

Thanks to the shelter-in-place rules, we have emitted less carbon dioxide in the past few months than we have in decades. This is a milestone that environmental experts have been trying to accomplish. Energy demand has decreased markedly—a significant shock within an environment that has never seen such a thing. According to the International Energy Agency, by the end of March 2020 the global average of road transportation activity fell to 50% of the 2019 level. Carbon dioxide emissions in New York are currently down by 10%, while emissions in Paris are down by 72%. China’s emissions also fell by 25% because of lockdown protocols that were put in place by the Chinese government during the first stages of the pandemic.

In early March Italy was the first country in Europe to enter lockdown. The Italian government restricted transportation and movement throughout major cities such as Venice, which holds one of Italy’s popular tourist attractions, the winding canals. With polluting tourist boats on pause and no human contact, the water in these famous canals has become transparent for the first time in over a decade. The fish are visible again within the canals, and swans and dolphins are returning. Furthermore, satellite images show a reduction of nitrogen dioxide over the north of Italy.

With humanity in lockdown, wildlife is beginning to restore its presence into the world

In Brazil’s northeast coast an abundance of baby turtles are starting their lives without the anxiety caused by people and pets. Herbert Andrade, an environmental manager for Paulista, Brazil, believes “…that nature is transforming itself” because of moments like this.

Wild boars are emerging back onto the streets in Barcelona, Spain, and mountain goats are descending into Wales, United Kingdom. Because of the coronavirus-related lockdowns, the animal kingdom is flourishing.

The lowered level of pollution is creating a path for an enhanced and sustainable way of living. With clear waters and the emergence of new and successful wildlife, the pandemic has radically reduced our carbon footprint, ironically making the world a better place to live in. With the pressure to control the virus and reduce death tolls, we have essentially pressed the “reset” button on mother nature. Although this is a temporary fix, we know that limiting pollution is possible because we are doing it right now. We must push our boundaries even after COVID-19. We must continue caring for our planet which, in turn, will care for us.

Coronavirus has radically reduced our carbon footprint, ironically making the world a better place to live in.