Is COVID-19 having a positive impact?

April 16, 2020

 

Canals are clear for the first time in years and people can finally see their cities blue skies, due to COVID-19.  

 

COVID-19 has led people to dwell on negative thoughts lately, but there have been drastic positive improvements in the environment. 

 

In Venice, Italy, a popular mode of transportation through the canals of the city is by boat. Due to the overwhelming population, especially due to tourists, the canals have been dirtied by a constant upheaval of sediment at the bottom of rivers. All of that changed about a month ago.  

 

The canals have become nearly crystal clear, so much to the point that one could see fish, swans and even a dolphin swimming around. Contrary to popular belief, the reason the water has become so clean isn’t due to better air quality. Instead, it is simply due to there being less traffic on the canals, causing the sediment to stay at the bottom.  

 

“I don’t think that there’s a single Venetian or Italian alive that has ever seen it,” said an online Twitter user.  

 

Aside from clear water, a majorly populated city in China, Wuhan, along with many others are seeing blue skies. Between China’s decrease in coal consumption and CO2 emissions, due to COVID-19, the air quality has improved significantly over the past month. Factories have also been shut down, causing people to drive less, contributing to better air quality. This has been such a major change for China, that some fear as soon as a vaccine is found for the virus, the country will return to its old ways.  

 

“We would very much advocate for China to foster this opportunity to transform its economy, to break apart from the old,” said Li Shuo, a CNN climate policy adviser.  

 

Like China, a state in the U.S. has also noticed a “smog” beginning to lift over cities. According to Phil Martien, director of assessment, inventory and modeling at the Bay Area Quality Management District in San Francisco, Northern California bridges have had approximately 70% less traffic than normal in the past few weeks. Unlike China, a main cause of California’s poor air quality is from transportation.  

 

Ronal Cohen, a chemistry professor at UC Berkeley, plans to extend the positive outcome of COVID-19. Since less people are driving and the result is a betterment of air quality, this further proves the positive effect that electric motor vehicles could have on the environment.  

 

“Blue skies this month show what the future might look like when more of California’s vehicles are electric,” said Cohen.  

 

While we are all undergoing this difficult time, we need to reflect on both the good and the bad that is happening in the world. With every negative, there’s always a positive.  

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