"Quarantining Saves the World" by Anisya Lustig-Ellison
Many folks worldwide have been quarantined in their homes for over a month now; outdoor activity limited to dog walking, occasional exercise and social distancing hikes. Being forced to stay in one’s home limits the places to drive to and roads are now scarce and traffic is at an extreme low. Going to the grocery store feels apocalyptic and eerie as shelves are empty and those shopping are in masks hoarding everything they see. Parents around the world are adjusting to their children being home all hours of day and are growing impatient. While the world economy is struggling and humans are restless and in a state of unrest, the planet is thriving unlike it has in our lifetime. This shift can be seen everywhere from the increasing wildlife in Yosemite National Park, California to the crystal clear canals in Venice, Italy.
The Yosemite National Park has taken to Facebook to show images of wildlife roaming free in the Park that sees 4.5 million visitors every year. One post depicts bobcats, which are secretive and rarely seen, lounging around in areas often occupied by humans. According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, hundreds of thousands have viewed the videos on this Facebook page which depict wolves, deer, and coyotes exploring the park.
Los Angeles, California, notorious for its unhealthy and hazy air, now has some of the cleanest air in any major city. A graphic created by the Environmental Protection Agency shows ‘good’ air quality for the entire month of March, something that has not been seen since before 1995 where the graphic begins compiling data.
China is also notorious for its dangerous air quality; many images depict citizens walking the streets wearing masks. Now, with a large drop in industrial production, the pollution from their factories has dropped as well. Carbon dioxide levels dropped 25% from their levels in 2019. NASA Earth also posted a series of satellite graphics on Twitter showing the decreased levels of nitrogen dioxide in China.
Italy, one of the hardest hit countries, is going viral for videos and pictures of its crystal clear canals during quarantine. On an average day, these canals are murky and there is plenty of traffic caused by gondolas and tourist ships. Now these canals are crystal clear and residents are seeing countless fish swimming by.
It appears to be difficult to argue the positive changes our planet is seeing, but the question must be asked: Will we continue these sustainable habits after quarantine now that we have seen firsthand the power we have in controlling climate change? Will we adjust our way of life for the good of our planet?