April 22, 2021 - the 51st official Earth Day. This year’s Earth Day was a truly special experience due to the circumstances of our current planet. COVID-19 has negatively impacted people, and although vaccines have been circulating through the U.S., they will not bring back the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been lost to the virus. However, one unexpected consequence of the pandemic was the environment’s improvement since before the lockdown.
Required lockdowns decreased transportation worldwide which significantly reduced the amount of new fossil fuel emissions in our environment. Studies were conducted throughout the lockdown to track developments in our atmosphere’s composition, and scientists found large reductions in harmful chemicals including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. NASA (National Aeronautics Space Administration) and ESA (European Space Agency) found evidence that suggested a large decrease in NO2 emissions, upwards of 30%.
ESA/NASA Display of Air Pollution in China
People have posted on social media about how nature was slowly returning to areas that haven’t seen it in years. Notably, tourist attractions including Venice have seen a comeback from nature after a decline in tourists. However, this does cause people to question how to balance economics and the environment since the decline in tourists means fewer profits for locals, many of whom rely on tourism for money. Prioritizing the wellbeing of the environment is a struggle for many as they would have to sacrifice things they cannot afford due to COVID-19. Governments, corporations, and people have to work together to create a sustainable future.
Animals Returning to Venice
Earth Day is only 24 hours of celebration for our home that has been here for billions of years. Without fail, the planet does so much for us, so remember: be conscious all day, every day.