Science

Global Warming and COVID-19: How are the two correlated?

Questions answered in this article: (3 min read)

  1. What were the positive effects of COVID-19 on the environment?
  2. What were the negative effects of COVID-19 on the environment?

With 19 of the 20 past years being recorded as the warmest years since 2001, global warming has instilled a sense of awareness about rising temperatures in individuals across the world (1). Although many know the effect of global warming on the planet, many also don’t know what global warming is. Global warming is the increase in the Earth’s temperature. This increase in temperature is due to an increase in the number of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere mainly due to anthropogenic, or human-caused, reasons. Even though global warming has been a momentous topic in recent years, a new topic masked global warming and left global warming in the shadows: COVID-19.

COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is a novel disease that began all the way in Wuhan, China in 2019. Coronavirus had many negative consequences due to its spread, albeit they aren’t all bad. The positive effects are obviously outweighed by the negative consequences brought by the disease, but there are still some positive effects. 

Positive effects on the environment caused by the virus

The outbreak of the Coronavirus catalyzed a lockdown around many places across the world. The lockdowns caused by the virus led to many positive effects on the environment. They heavily limited the amount of industrial activity and travel, causing a significant decrease in the number of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Let’s look at New York, the city’s air pollution levels have dropped nearly 50% in comparison to the levels of pollution in 2019 (2). The shutdowns also led to an improvement in air quality, a decrease in pollution, a reduction in resource farming, and more. As stated before, COVID-19 had positive effects on the environment, but there are also some negative consequences on the environment that COVID-19 actuated.

Negative effects on the environment caused by the virus

While COVID-19 helped dramatically decrease the amount of air pollution, it also caused a significant increase in the amount of medical items released into the environment. The Coronavirus led to an increase in the number of masks, bottles, and disinfectant containers released into the environment. This type of waste has a large impact on the environment because the items aren’t biodegradable due to the materials not being capable of decomposing in a short amount of time. Organisms will then be harmed by these products because they will digest them due to their prolonged presence in their ecosystems.

TL;DR

  • The drastic spread of COVID-19  has caused lockdowns throughout the world.
  • The lockdowns led to almost no travel at all, significantly cutting down on the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. This led to much better air quality in major cities and a setback for global warming.
  • There were also some negative effects on the environment with the Coronavirus. A lot of disposable medical waste has been dumped into ecosystems, threatening the animals and jeopardizing the local fauna.

Sources

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