Coronavirus Impact On Environment

Linh Pham

April 21, 2020

The pandemic is turning everything, our life, daily routine, economy, our work upside down. Everyone moans because their life becomes messy; because they have to stay at home; and there is nothing interesting outside in the event of national isolation. True, Coronavirus has shocked the world, from advanced-economy countries to under-developed countries. However, if we view Coronavirus impact under a different aspect, maybe you will feel something positive. That is the Coronavirus impact on the environment, our nature, and lessons that we learn when staying at home. This article will explain about the Coronavirus impact on the environment.


The environment has been hurt before the pandemic

Before the pandemic, communication media, newspaper, broadcast channels usually reported how bad the environment is. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), seven million people each year are killed due to air pollution. The number of victims by this silent killer is much more than the toll death caused by the Coronavirus now. India is in the top 10 of the most polluted countries in the world and New Delhi is the worst air quality of any capital city. The severe air quality in New Delhi (India) is caused by sclerotic traffic and the burning of fossil fuels in cooking by less-well-off families. 

China is the second country, after India, recorded the worst air pollution in the world. China’s pollution is in such a bad situation that it prevents sunlight from solar panels. Although the Chinese government is making attempts to reduce the effect of air pollution, achieved a 9% drop in particulate levels in 2019, 53% of the nation’s urban areas exceed China’s less stringent national targets. China still relies heavily on manufacturing and the cost of suspending production or shutting factories is high, hence the country is investing in renewable energy. 

From the fourth quarter of 2019, Vietnam witnessed continual reports about the bad air quality. In December 2019, the air quality in Hanoi was calculated at the poor level which negatively affected residents’ respiratory health, especially for the elder and children. These areas which were highlighted with red colour on the air quality map were central areas and outskirts of Hanoi consisting of Sword Lake, Tô Ngọc Vân (Tây Hồ District), Hàng Đậu street, Tây Mỗ. 

Air pollution happens in all countries across the world and strict measures and smart plans need to be implemented to minimize the long-term negative effect on people’s health and national economy.


Coronavirus impact on environment boosts

The order of national isolation becomes effective, it makes cities around the world which are well-known for tourism destinations and populated areas, now become deserted and quiet.  Fewer cars on the road, factories temporarily closing are certainly strange things that we barely imagine happens in real life. The pandemic can be considered as a trade-off, down for the economy but bring positive impact for the environment. 

In the short term, the Coronavirus impact on the environment is seemingly incredible. According to the satellite images displayed by the European Space Agency, the level of nitrogen dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels that caused respiratory problems, has declined considerably across major cities namely Paris, Madrid, and Rome. The United State also witnessed a positive change in air quality since the country applied social distancing and restricted vehicles in public places. 


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is air-pollution-in-new-york.jpg

Air pollution in New York plunges as people stay at home (Source: Daily Mail)

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide emission was reduced by a quarter in the mid-February, according to an analysis published in Carbon Brief. This is such a positive sign for smoke-choked cities in China. Lauri Myllyvirta, the author of Carbon Brief, shared that “In terms of a shift or a change that really happened overnight, this has been unprecedentedly dramatic”. 

Honestly, the decline in the level of carbon dioxide is a positive development for the planet and human beings. Clearer air can deliver brief relief for those suffering from Coronavirus and make it easier for patients, the elder to breathe. 

The air quality in Vietnam has also improved noticeably in major cities, according to the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA). Hanoi has made an amazing comeback with the average AQI (Air Quality Index) standing at 47 – good for health, while one month ago, the city was listed in the top polluted cities in the world. In January, when Vietnam was in the very early stage of combating the pandemic, the dust concentration measured in Hanoi was 10 times higher than WHO’s standard; however, the figure was reduced by 10 folds, remaining at acceptable level on the last days of March. 


The Coronavirus pandemic has proved how much people negatively affect the environment

We hardly believe that one day, cities like New York, Rome, or Paris witnessed the empty streets, less car and no tourists, but the Coronavirus impact on the environment has made it better. It seems to be ironic! When business activities stagnate, people stay at home, then the environment “smiles”. 

True, the reduction in emissions may also seem like a win for the fight against climate change. Because of the Coronavirus-related business fallout, carbon emission could decline in 2020. Now, the question is what countries can do to maintain the air quality or at least keep the air quality index at the safe level after the pandemic when people’s lives return to normality. For instance, by the end of March, China witnesses how quickly emissions and air pollution can bounce back. Coal consumption and nitrogen dioxide had returned to the normal level. This is maybe a hard question for policymakers to solve the sustainability-related issues. 

In fact, how does the Coronavirus pandemic affect our business? Let’s read the article written by Viettonkin team.

All in all, the pandemic has scrambled the world’s economy and changed people’s lives. More than 40,000 people are killed by Coronavirus. However, the pandemic is a trade-off. The environment has been improved miraculously when major and populated cities are obliged to implement social distancing in which people stay at home, entertainments have to shut down, and many factories are forced to stop manufacturing. The air quality has boosted noticeable remaining at permission level. That is a positive sign that we can see during the pandemic. Although the negatives outweigh the positives, we have now acknowledged how much human beings affect the environment and our nature. The sustainability is a hard question to all countries, but essential actions need to be implemented soon so that the environment will not stay down.

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