What impact will coronavirus have on the environment?

Much debate has taken place since the coronavirus pandemic about the impact it has had on air quality, CO2 emmissions and our environment. Whilst the pandemic is threatening to bring the world and it's economy to its knees, some have been pointing out one benefit to the terrible circumstances we currently find ourselves in - the potential positive impact on climate change.

Less travel, less consumption, less CO2

The abrupt impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on our travelling habits is undeniable. Our holidays have been cancelled, all but essential business, cargo or repatriation flights have been suspended, our cars now spend their lives on our driveways, and non-essential manufacturing has ceased. As a result we've stopped buying non-essential items, we're using less oil, producing less waste and pumping far less CO2 into our atmosphere. Indeed one of the most memorable images seen at the beginning of the pandemic clearly showed a before and after image of the level of air pollution over China. The difference was astounding. It is obvious that the dramatic lifestyle changes that the pandemic has caused will have a beneficial impact on the environment. But is this sustainable?

Will it last?

However bleak the coronavirus situation now seems, it will pass. Things will slowly return to some normality and we'll re-book our holidays, get back into our cars and drive to work in offices, factories and buildings around the country. What then for the environment?

Essentially, the pandemic may have given our planet a life-line. It has forced us to press 'pause' on the damage we're doing and, although it is indisputable that our immediate focus will be on preventing further infection and getting our economy back up and running, it would be nice to think that we do not let this one positive aspect go to waste.

Time to appreciate what matters most

If nothing else our time in lockdown has led us to value the time we spend outside interacting with nature. All of us are making the most of our one session of exercise per day and even though it is so limited, for many of us, we are probably spending the most time outside on bikes and walks than we have done in years. Additionally with many of the work force now furloughed, lots of people have more time on their hands than usual. Life is continuing at a slower pace and perhaps we have re-evaluated what really matters. Those who are lucky enough to have a garden have probably spent more time in it, noticing wildlife and appreciating the simple pleasure of nurturing plants or appreciating the changes in our weather.

For those who have not been furloughed, many are lucky enough to be working from home. Arguably, this has worked much better than  many organisations predicted. Technology has allowed for video conferences and remote working to tick along smoothly and ultimately proves that travelling to an office five days a week may be an unnecessary drain on our fuel consumption, pockets and time.

All of these factors combined might make us think a little differently, even when life gets back to some form of normality. There is hope that a new appreciation of our environment will result in a conscious effort to be more environmentally friendly. This might be by using our cars less, producing less waste, recycling more or generally being more considerate of the small changes each of us can make to benefit our health, well-being and the environment around us. Fingers crossed this will last for the long term.

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