Quarantined to Earth
Retail Operations Manager
Before all of this global chaos began, none of us could have imagined that there would come a day when we would be ordered to stay home, with little to no physical interaction with the outside world. Our previously normal routine – busy workdays with long in-person meetings that could have been an email, fun weekends out dancing with friends or having BBQ’s with the fam, and simple errands like stopping at the grocery store to pick up isopropyl alcohol to clean the bong – was quickly replaced with panic buying essential goods and then sitting at home eating all of the quarantine snacks and binge-watching Tiger King, just trying to cope with this pervasive anxiety that seems to plague us all…
"People around the world are out of jobs and/or solely working from home; schools are closed; airline travel has decreased by 96% according to CNN"
There is no doubt that life is crazy right now. People around the world are out of jobs and/or solely working from home; schools are closed; airline travel has decreased by 96% according to CNN; and much of the daily commuter traffic has also drastically declined, leaving highways nearly bare during normal rush hour times. However, in the midst of all of this chaos and uncertainty, our new “routines” seem to shed some light on the impact we have on our beautiful planet.
There is certainly quite a bit of information (much of it is misinformation) going around social media regarding the environmental impacts caused by COVID-19 – like Venice canals becoming less polluted and swans returning to its waters. Though National Geographic confirmed that some of these statements are false. Venice canals are no less polluted than before but simply less trafficked, allowing the sediment to settle to the bottom and revealing more clear and beautiful waters. Though the canals are not necessarily cleaner, seeing all the way to the bottom is still pretty cool! Nat Geo also confirmed that swans have always occupied the water, but just maybe we will learn to appreciate and respect them a little bit more.
There is some truth behind the social media hype though, and for that, we should take a closer look and be more respectful of our planet and mindful of the daily harm we cause to it. For instance, busy streets are noticeably cleaner as people remain indoors. Look at some of these photos from Nola.com of Bourbon Street, a place that is reputable for being filthy and covered with human trash. In amidst of Coronavirus, the streets are empty of tourists and debris.
One of the biggest impacts we are seeing is the decline in NO2 emissions, which is a major air pollutant caused by factories and vehicles. Just take a look at this NASA Earth Observatory satellite map of Wuhan, China – the place where the virus was first reported. Notice the heavy emissions around the 2019 Chinese Lunar New Year, and then observe the map for 2020 as it depicts a very drastic improvement in the air quality; this appears to be in direct correlation with the lockdown that was put in place mid-late January 2020. Not only are we seeing this change in China, but right here in the U.S, we have shown similar declines in air pollutants. According to The New Your Times, major cities like Los Angeles, New York City, and Seattle have all shown an improvement in air quality due to people driving and traveling less.Unfortunately, humans have a tendency to be toxic to the planet, and that is simply the ugly truth of it all. Once society returns to normal, the pollution will certainly return as well. Hopefully, though we can take this time, as we are stuck inside of our homes – not traveling to here nor there, not wrapped up in our busy lives – to appreciate our beautiful planet. While humans around the world are falling ill and many are dying due to this virus that is taking our species by storm, the Earth is thriving and will continue to do so. Weeds will continue to grow over abandoned parts of society; rivers will continue to run into the oceans; the heartbeat of the planet will continue to pound, with every gust of wind and every change of the seasons.There is no Planet B that we can turn to, so it is important that we take care of the one we have. Take this time today to go outside and look around at the beautiful land we are so blessed to inhabit, and simply appreciate all that the earth has to offer us. Go for a run through the trees, ride a bike along the creeks, or simply sit and listen to the birds chirping. Whatever you do today, be sure to take it with you when this is over, and show a little more respect to our Mother when society returns to normalcy. Please remember that we are guests here on this crazy rock that orbits through our galaxy, and always be grateful for what we have here and spread some love!
Happy Earth Day!