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How COVID-19 is Impacting Climate Change and Pollution by Aurora R.

Updated: Jun 23


COVID-19 has been impacting all of us, but did you know that it is impacting climate change too? First off, what is climate change? Climate change is a change in the average conditions of land over a long period of time, such as temperature, and rainfall. An example of climate change is global warming. Global warming is the rise of global temperature. This form of climate change has caused melting ice, like in the Arctic--where polar bears and other animals such as seals and arctic foxes are struggling to survive. It has also led to a rise in sea levels, which is also caused by the melting ice, extreme weather events, ocean acidification, and plants and animals. (Certain plants and animals could go extinct, such as polar bears.) Finally, there are even social effects, such as scarcity of food, which could lead to arguments and stealing.


Because of the stay-at-home order, people rarely get out of their houses, and they drive their cars even fewer times. The fuel cars use to work releases CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 is a gas that helps to trap heat in the atmosphere. Without it, our planet would be freezing cold. With too much CO2 in the air, however, our planet is getting too hot. CO2 and other gases cause the Greenhouse Effect, which leads to global warming, which, as I mentioned earlier, is a form of climate change. Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s less need for these fuels, so less CO2 is coming from cars. Cars are, in fact, responsible for nearly ⅕ of all US emissions!


“The sky is blue,” is probably something you have been telling yourself your entire life, and now, you can say it’s actually true. Pollutants have, in fact, made the sky in certain places grey, but because of many factories shut down due to the pandemic, there aren’t as many pollutants in the air! Pollutants, in case you’re wondering, are substances introduced into the environment that have negative, or undesired effects. Pollutants are known and found in all three states of matter, but the reason the sky turning grey is because of the gas pollutants. Some examples of pollutants are: nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), sulfur oxides (SOx), particulate matter (PM), mercury.


Masks, face shields, and gloves are an essential part of this pandemic; however, the need for these objects, and other sanitizing objects too, is making plastics industries produce and produce non-stop. Since we need these products, it’s not like we can just not buy them and hope they’ll stop producing them. If you are wondering why we can’t let plastics wander around much, the answer is short: pollution. Plastics tend to find their way into bodies of water, where they are eaten, get stuck around an animal’s neck, or stay there and join the big plastics patches around the globe. Plastics take years to decompose--and they don’t even decompose completely! The COVID-19 pandemic is definitely helping with pollution, which is ironic since in the earlier in this article I talked about how it’s helping with the amount of CO2 released in the air. Of course, after reading this, do not wander around without the protections needed.


COVID-19 is scary, terrible, and heartbreaking, and even if there are some benefits to it, you are probably thinking that once this pandemic is over, everything will go “back to normal,” environment-wise. Even if that’s true, picture the planet you are living in right now, without the pandemic… That kind of planet is proof that we can do it, that there’s hope, and that since we were able to do this once, why not do it again?

 
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