Social distancing measures due to the Coronavirus have caused some unexpected environmental benefits

The Coronavirus has been a burden in over 180 of the world’s countries and territories, shocking the world economy and affecting the lives of millions of people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), since early January, the virus has internationally infected 962,977 people and killed 49,180. Because of this, countries worldwide have implemented different magnitudes of social distancing measures to combat the effects of COVID-19. These measures have caused these people to stay home from work and spend most of their time in their homes. According to NBC News, however, these practices of social distancing have allowed for some unexpected environmental benefits. ~

According to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland, social distancing practices in China have caused industrial operations to be reduced by 15% to 40% in some Chinese sectors, and coal consumption at major power plants fell by 36%. China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment released a statement Wednesday claiming that “the average number of “good quality air days” increased 21.5% in February, compared to the same period last year,” and a 25% drop was seen in China’s carbon dioxide emissions in the month of February. In other countries, such as Italy, concentrations of nitrogen dioxide have fallen drastically (Washington Post). In the United States, NBC News claimed that the average concentration of fine particulate matter — tiny particles in the air that deem air quality “dangerous” — in San Francisco have dropped by 40%. A similar drop has been experienced in Seattle (32%) and New York (28%) as well. ~

These decreases in pollution have sparked conversation over climate-related arguments. While some would like to restore the United States’ economy to what it was just a few months ago before the Coronavirus, others focus on reconstructing the economy to accommodate for these newly seen environmental benefits. ~

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