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Observing a Unique Earth Day: COVID-19 and the Environment

Some of our clients have been sharing posts with us that tout the massive beneficial impact social distancing is having on the planet. We decided to research this a little and after checking many sources, we found this article from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has on of the most comprehensive overviews of this crisis’ impact on the environment.

We would like to share this summary of what we discovered with you, as food for thought.

The Good

Reduced transportation demand means reduced greenhouse emissions and improved air quality. However, as soon as our transportation use picks back up, emissions will rise and air quality will fall again. You can already see evidence of this in this video of emissions over China from the European Space Agency.

We have the opportunity to research and understand many facets of reduced global activity. This may help us chart a better course to improving the world’s environment.

The Bad

Waste issues are on the rise. Many recycling efforts have been halted and increased demand is straining waste management systems.

The age of disposables is back upon us until we believe we can reuse safely. Think about all those PPE items that are used and disposed of every day. Let alone all the reusable bags that can’t be reused because stores won’t allow them. All those restaurant meals are now in take-out disposable containers.

Many perishable exports have gone to waste because the demand is no longer there and trade routes cannot be rerouted before the goods spoil.

Wild areas are at risk from increased poaching, whether foraging for sustenance or economic gain through deforestation, fishing, and hunting.

The Take Home

We have all learned that our personal habits can easily be changed. It’s a matter of will over want. Everyone has different interests and values different aspects of our environment. What is your priority? How will you change your habits to help the planet in the long term?

If improved air quality is your thing, maybe you’ll drive less, shop local more often, or be more vocal about the rollbacks in environmental protection laws. If you love the pristine wilderness, maybe you’ll support the policing of those spaces or support ecotourism (which can help reduce overuse of wilderness areas). If you’re about waste reduction, maybe you’ll have a renewed awareness of how much disposable waste is around us and reduce your personal consumption. Or maybe you’ll help educate your community on how to recycle effectively.

Earth is the only home we have. Let’s take this extraordinary moment in our history to learn what to do and act on it. In the meantime, stay safe. Happy Earth Day.