The Unspoken Benefit of the Deadly Pandemic

The Unspoken Benefit of the Deadly Pandemic

We are living through a time that will be forever remembered in history. The current global pandemic known as COVID-19 (coronavirus) has shut down the world. The virus has infected over 2 million people and caused the death of thousands. Consequently, nations are experiencing staggeringly high unemployment rates, a shut down of schools, and the closing of many businesses. Every time we turn on the news we see how the virus has altered and uprooted the normalcy of peoples’ lives.

The media prominently emphasizes the sad and negative aspects of the pandemic, and although the horrors of the pandemic should be considered and sympathized, there are uplifting connotations to the pandemic. People around the globe are being forced into quarantine where they are recommended to not leave their homes except for vital reasons. In other words, quarantine prevents many people from leaving their homes, therefore, decreasing the use of cars, planes, and other various forms of transportation. As mentioned before, many businesses have closed due to the virus, so that leads to the shutdown of factories and other buildings that emit fossil fuel emissions.

Over the last century, human life was made efficient due to many episodes of industrialization where the creation and usage of technology allowed people to achieve and produce more. As a result, industrialization resulted in the increased emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by factories that mass-produce goods and modes of transportation that allows people to travel, which causes several grave outcomes. This includes the gradual rise of the average global temperature due to the trapping of these gases in the atmosphere (which branches to many negative results including the melting of ice caps in the Artic, which destroys the habitats of arctic animals- rendering them homeless) and harm to human and animal health because we are not genetically built to cycle polluting gases in our system (and trees and other plants constantly being cut down as well, which results in them not being able to convert the pollutant gases into breathable oxygen).

Although, due to the shutdown of the globe, the concentration of the troubling greenhouse gases is rapidly easing. According to NASA, the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere, specifically in the country of China, are significantly decreasing due to the decreased use of these vehicles and factories. Here we see the mean trophic nitrogen density over China that was measured by a Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument satellite (it measures the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere). We can identify that earlier in the year in January the nitrogen levels were astronomical, as over cities such as Beijing the mean nitrogen levels were in the 125 to 500+ standard mol per meter squared range (the yellow to red range). The right Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument satellite reading displays the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in February when the country was initiating its shutdown and the quarantine of its people. We see that the concentration levels of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere dropped immensely, and we can concur that the decreased usage of machinery that emits nitrogen dioxide into the atmosphere resulted in the decreased concentration of the gas. Air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Fei Liu claims, “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event.”

In conclusion, although the pandemic has caused grief, fear, and pain in many peoples’ lives, it is important to also note the change in our environment and learn and grow from what we’ve seen. People should reconsider, alter, and reduce their traveling methods, as we can see that the descending use of gas-emitting vehicles and modes of transportation reflects a drop in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In addition, leaders of nations and businesses should reconsider and change the methods of production (reduce or replace fossil fuels in the production of goods in factories and other combusting facilities) in hope for a cleaner, fresher, and greener earth for the coming generations and to rehabilitate the earth that we’ve broken.