This Earth Day, like any other, conservationists and ecologists around the world will celebrate their commitment to environmental protection, but this year a few more million (admittedly perhaps unwittingly) may be assisting with this global effort.
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone across the world and has affected the way many people are currently living their lives on a day to day basis. As more and more people are being told to stay home and social distance to protect the vulnerable, and workplaces and factories are temporarily closed down, the pandemic has seemingly had an impact on not only people across the world, but also the planet. Scientists have found that through social distancing and other measures that have been put in place there has been a positive impact across the land, sea and air. Many of the coronavirus pandemic safety measures that have been put in place are also helping to heal our planet. Here, we take a look at some of the ways it appears the planet is healing.
A huge decrease in air pollution
One hugely important way in which the Earth appears to be healing itself due to the coronavirus outbreak is air pollution.
Air pollution has been having a significant negative impact on the planet for centuries due to industry, traffic and other modern pollutants.
Industrial and social activity, particularly relating to transport has caused the release of toxins into the environment such as nitrogen dioxide.
These toxins are causing severe air pollution across the entire planet and they are not only damaging the planet, but they are also dangerous to human health, being known to cause serious health conditions such as strokes, heart disease and respiratory illnesses.
The World Health Organisation has estimated that deaths related to exposure to air pollution is at around 4.2 million each year.
In recent years, as the detrimental effect on our earth has become ever clearer, scientists have been discovering easier ways for people to go about their daily lives, through the creation of greener cars, buses and other modes of transport as well as greener energy sources.
However, scientists and ecologists studying the air quality across the globe have been urging world leader to do more to tackle the problem.
Since the coronavirus pandemic has begun in China alone, there has been a huge decrease in the amount of nitrogen dioxide being released into the atmosphere and it is believed that this alone has saved the lives of 4,000 children and 73,000 elderly adults over the course of 2 months this year.
Another study has also found that there has been a huge drop in the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere since the social distancing measures have been put into place.
Carbon dioxide is responsible for the cause of global warming which is slowly destroying our planet.
Oceans are quieter
Another way in which researchers and scientists have found that the Earth is healing itself since the coronavirus outbreak is that the oceans appear to be quieter.
Marine biologists and other scientists that work with marine life have found that noise from ships and other maritime traffic can increase stress hormones in marine animals.
This can have a negative effect on marine life. High levels of stress can affect reproductive rates in marine creatures.
Through the use of underwater microphones, researchers have seen a significant drop in the noise levels below the water level that are caused by cruise ships and other types of marine transport.
Researchers are now predicting that due to the lower levels of noise in the oceans across the world, there will be an increase in the amounts of young being reproduced over the coming months due to the lower levels of stress.
This could also have an impact on endangered species in the ocean.
If they are experiencing lower levels of stress, then it is hoped they could reproduce more offspring and therefore reduce their chances of extinction.
Less noise means we can listen to what the earth is telling us
Scientists have been using seismometers to measure the frequency of tremors and vibrations from day to day life.
A study was conducted in Brussels the day before they began their nationwide lockdown and the day of the lockdown.
It found that due to the lack of cars and public transport as well as the lack of people walking the streets, there was a huge decrease in the vibrations from one day to the next.
They described the drop in activity as immediate, and that the vibrations that daytime in Brussels resembled those felt on Christmas Day.
Not only has the effect been noticed in Brussels, but it has been noticed across the world.
Seismologists have been conducting studies in the United States, France, New Zealand and other countries and they have all come to the same conclusions.
They have all used their own seismometers and have all found that since they have begun their own lockdown the decrease in seismic activity has decreased immediately due the social distancing measures that have been put into place.
Scientists have found it easier to listen out for activity happening around the world, such as earthquakes, as there is less noise being picked up on from people, cars and other modes of transport.
City soundscapes are changing too
Another way in which the world appears to be healing itself is through the reduction of noise pollution in busy cities.
A study conducted in the United States has found that there has been a huge decrease in the levels of noise pollution in busy cities since social distancing measures have been in place.
Through the use of a decibel meter researchers have gone about their daily lives while adhering to the social distancing measures and have seen a huge decrease in the measurements.
One researcher has found that usually decibel readings during rush hour in a busy train station usually reads at around 90 decibels.
However, during the pandemic she has gone to the same station and readings have dropped to 68 decibels.
Although these are difficult times for everyone across the world and there is a high level of uncertainty and fear of what is to come, this outbreak of the coronavirus could be beneficial to the world we know.
Due to the reduction in toxins being released into the atmosphere, and the lower levels of noise pollution above and below the water levels, our earth could be healing itself and this Earth Day, if we commit to reducing our impact on the earth even when we’re allowed back out into the streets, it could help make the shift our planet needs to make sure this continues.