The Impacts of COVID-19: The Intersection of the Environment and Economy

10 June 2020, 20:29

By Maggie Hartman, Sustainability Content Writer Intern, RealtySage.com

As I am sure all of you know, we are witnessing history in the making. Our lives have shifted dramatically as we cope with the new virus by obeying stay-at-home orders and remaining self-isolated. But while we have been safely tucked away in our homes, the earth around us as begun to heal itself in our absence. This is interesting because while the human world, specifically the economy, is seeming to crumble, the environment is thriving. How can this be, you may ask?

Let’s find out –

Joel Holland on unsplash.com

Environmental Effects of COVID-19

There is, thankfully, an upside to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have been keeping up with the news and social media, you may have noticed that wildlife and the environment are better off due to our world pausing.

Increased Air Quality:

Due to quarantining issued by the state governments of the United States,

there is significantly less travel, which reduces transportation-related pollutants.

  • Airport and car related pollutants have decreased, which decreases the amount of nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde being emitted.

Both of the named chemicals contribute to ozone development. Ozone not only contributes to global warming, but is also toxic to humans, causing chest pain, coughing, and throat irritation.

  • Less coal is being burned due to a decrease in energy consumption during the COVID-19 national shutdown.

Coal burning creates carbon dioxide emissions, which also progresses climate change. Although domestic energy usage has increase 6-8% due to citizens working at home, the pandemic has still caused an overall decrease in energy consumption.

The reduction in both transportation pollutants and coal burning emissions have led to better air quality globally. For example, the air pollution in New York have dropped by almost 50%. Emission levels have also dropped in Europe and China.

Decreased Noise Pollution:

This travel restriction has resulted in significantly reduced noise levels. Seismologists report that the earth is experiencing less seismic noise, which is vibration of the earth’s crust. The decrease in noise has improved quality of life for animals so much that animals are migrating less and have a lower mortality rate. Marine animals have experienced less stress due to noise caused by cruise ships.

Increased Water Clarity:

This has caused water clarity to improve. In Venice, the boats used locally stir up sediment for the bottom of the canals, making it difficult to see wildlife. Now, with no boats in use, the water clarity has improved and fish are visible.

All that being said, we can conclude that the environment and wildlife have been thriving during the Corona Virus outbreak. With less invasion by societies’ emissions and noise, the earth has begun to heal itself. This thriving is in stark contrast to how mankind has been affected by the pandemic…

Sebastien Gabriel on unsplash.com

The Economic Impacts of COVID-19

As I said in the beginning of this article, the Corona Virus pandemic is making history with its unprecedented impacts. As I am sure every American has seen and experienced, the economy of the United States has taken a big hit as a result of the virus.

              The Dow:

This monumental drop in the Dow could have significant negative effects of citizens’ personal savings and pension. The Dow drop has also impacted citizens’ desire to spend money; to remedy this, interest rates have dropped to encourage spending and the U.S. national government passed a $2 trillion Corona Virus Aid bill to help stimulate the economy.

Risk of Recession:

IMF (International Monetary Fund) says that the global economy will shrink by 3% in 2020. Economic growth is characterized by increases in both wealth and employment – in 2020, we see neither of those things.

Unemployment:

The number above is a record high for the United States. This in due to the closing of non-essential businesses, which was implemented to slow and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Needless to say, COVID-19 is causing significant damage to the American and global economies.

Karsten Würth on unsplash.com

The Intersection of the Environment and Economy

It is undeniable that the environmental and economic impacts of the Corona Virus pandemic are extensive. However, how and to what extent do they intersect and interact with each other?

According to Bryan Duncan of NASA, “If the amount of pollution emitted continues to grow over time, your economy is likely booming”. The environment simple cannot handle the harmful emissions that a thriving economy produces. We see the same idea, only reversed, with the COVID-19 case – pollutants have been reduced but the economy has suffered. This evidence confirms that the environment and economy work in opposition with each other. When one is positively affected, the other is negatively affected.

Therefore, it is clear that it would be extremely difficult for a thriving economy and environment to co-exist together.

What Can We Do?

You may be thinking, “well that sounds like a pretty dim outlook.” But remember this crucial fact – the section above describes how the environment and economy traditionally intersect. Remember that the environment is harmed through traditional methods of energy creation such as burning gas and coal. There are, however, other ways of producing energy.

Until now, reducing global emissions through innovative sustainable measures has been a pipe dream that seemed ideal, but actually unattainable. Now, however, we have seen with our own eyes the healing effects of reduced emissions. We know that the results are real and tangible. This should drive us like never before to make changes to our traditional economic practices. By implementing widespread sustainable and innovative practices, a thriving environment and economy could potentially co-exist.

Sustainable practices can be implemented in small and large ways. Communities and individuals can reduce their personal carbon footprint by implementing sustainable urban planning, increasing public transit use, and by investing in green homes and development. Nations and corporations can reduce emissions from production and development by utilizing renewable energy sources and advanced technologies. For example, Target has outfitted 300 of their facilities with solar panels and will outfit 200 more in 2020, all of which will decrease the emissions of the company. Advanced smokestack filters can also be used to remove 90% of pollutants from smoke before releasing it into the environment. Through these types of measures, we could see continued positive economic growth, without the negative effects on the environment.

Want to Go Green?

As I said, Individuals can reduce their personal carbon footprint by implementing sustainable habits. You may be thinking that sustainability seems a little intimidating? Not to worry! There are hundreds of easy ways to make your household more sustainable. From energy consumption to shopping habits – you name it!

One of the other ways I mentioned that individuals can implement sustainable practices was to invest in a green home. A green has a smaller carbon footprint than a traditional home due to energy saving technology. Green homes are incredibly healthy for residents and are also cost saving, which is an added plus during changing economic times, as we are experiencing now.

If you are interested in learning how your personal actions can change the world, check out this article, “Climate Change: Can One Person Really Make a Difference”. As the article states, Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Everyone is capable of throwing their own stone, which can cause a worldwide, planet-healing ripple effect.

If a green home seems right for you, check out Realty Sage’s fantastic selection of green homes. Users can use our eco home search to view homes of all types, from LEED certified to solar powered and everything in between. Additionally, if you wish to be matched with an eco-home-knowledgeable real estate agent, utilize our free agent-matching service. There is a perfect green home for everyone and at Realty Sage, we’ll help you find it!


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