Covid-19 has created panic throughout the world, shutting down all spaces except for those deemed necessary. People have been anxious to get out and back to their previous lives, but amidst this chaos we have forgotten that this pandemic has affected something beyond humans: climate change.
There are numerous different ways that climate change has been affected by Covid-19, both positively and negatively.
My drive to school is somewhat long, and a year ago today the road I take would have been packed with heavy traffic of commuters going to work in New York City. But with people working from home, the roads are practically empty!
While spending more time at home, we have had to work, eat, play, and essentially live fully remotely. Schools have started up again, either fully in person, remote, or hybrid. Most people have gotten pretty frustrated about the circumstances; however, being remote means less driving and traveling, leading to less use of fossil fuels and cleaner air. This healthier environment is enabling animals to come out and roam the streets.
Studies have also seen significant drops of CO2 levels around the world. We have to remember, though, that not every place is the same. On one hand, Paris has had a CO2 drop of 72% during Covid-19, while New York has had a drop of 10%.
Covid-19 has altered everyone’s lives in some way, whether that is directly getting the disease or being indirectly affected. During the pandemic, people have experienced scarcity. Studies show that these uncertain conditions have led people to be more appreciative of their lives before the pandemic, which will most likely lower food waste and personal consumption when quarantine ends.
If we go back to treating the planet the way we treated it before Covid-19, all of this progress will be lost. These changes are wonderful, but they are potentially short-term. Plus, this short amount of time during which the planet has begun to heal will not make up for the years of failing climate.
If climate change continues on the path it is on currently, we would be on the right track to slowing it further; we do not need a global pandemic to do it. Covid-19 has definitely been a wake-up call, but the next step is to have climate policies that advocate for clean technologies and reductions in demand for energy. Although we may feel as high school students that we can do little to help, everything counts, from being someone like Greta Thunberg to simply turning out the lights when you leave the room.