Coronavirus Clears Smoggy Skies

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Katie Keovongphet, Reporter

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, citizens around the world can see starry night skies and smog-free cities. The absence of booming industries and heavy traffic has made quite an impact on the environment in this short time period as people began traveling less.

With so many non-essential businesses being closed, and the ones who have stayed open allowing employees to work from home; it has definitely decreased travel,” AP Biology teacher Dustin Barth said. “When you decrease the number of cars on the road, not only does it directly impact the pollution because of fewer cars, but even the people who are having to travel are taking less time to get to their destination, again decreasing the amount of time car engines are running.”

Places that saw the most notable impacts to air quality are major cities such as New Delhi and Seoul. According to CNN, these cities have seen decreases in deadly particulate matter by nearly 60 percent. 

“Unfortunately, it took the #coronavirus pandemic for many people around the globe to enjoy fresh air and clear skies,” The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) tweeted on March 22. “On #EarthDay let’s all reflect on the actions we can take to ensure emissions rates don’t jump back to ‘normal’ post-#COVID19.”

Additionally, Barth stated that transportation and the business industry had more to do with air quality than social isolation. He ultimately hopes this will impact the behavior of citizens concerning the environment. 

“I went to Tokyo Japan, a city that, as of 2019, had the highest population,” Barth said. “I didn’t notice smog or pollution being near as bad. It wasn’t because people were staying at home and social distancing but simply not driving. People walked, rode bicycles and took the subway. So many means of transportation that were effective!”

Several teens have also felt the impacts of the quarantine in their daily routines, especially those that drive and go out often. 

“I was engraved in a routine of going out, and now that we are forced to stay home I am constantly bored and miss going out,” Naaman Forest High School senior Michelle Nguyen said. “I drove so much before, whether that was for work or school, and now the only place I can drive to is the grocery store. It’s funny because I have not filled up my gas for a month now, and it’s still at a good amount. Before, I filled it up every two weeks or so.”

Barth believes that this pandemic could bring insight to future management and decisions. He states that it has allowed people to be more appreciative of the time they spend alone. 

“I would like to think maybe some of our business models might change a bit,” Barth said. “If many businesses said we can do one or two days from home how much would that impact travel? How many buses and cars would not be running if we had one day a week that we learned from home? Maybe again people wouldn’t mind being at home a bit more. I have even seen music festivals streaming online during this time.”

All in all, Barth feels like this is an opportunity for change. Options like working from home now and then and carpooling more were only a few that he mentioned. 

“Any major event that might change the way people view the world and their surroundings hopefully teaches us how to grow and be better,” Barth said. “That is our one true hope for mankind, right? Sometimes we have to experience something earth shattering to change that. Hopefully from now on we will be prepared for things like a huge pandemic. The moment we think something isn’t possible sets up the opportunity for us to be proven wrong.”