Pandemic May Prove Positive For The Environment

Pandemic May Prove Positive For The Environment

3:54pm May 13, 2020
With fewer cars on the road during the coronavirus pandemic, the environment may be breathing a sigh of relief. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Experts from Duke University say that isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic is improving air quality and could reduce the global demand for energy.

Fossil fuel consumption has plummeted to about 30 percent of regular usage. The demand for electricity in the commercial and industrial sectors is way down too. There’s not a lot of data yet, but CO2 levels in some areas are dropping, due in large part to decreased transportation.

A group of scholars from Duke University discussed these environmental changes, and what kind of opportunities they might present. Earth Science Professor Drew Shindell says that climate change is often thought of as an intangible future threat, but the pandemic could change that.

“People can really see the air around them clearer. They’re seeing that when we make a change we can have an immediate impact on the environment,” says Shindell. “And I think that there’s a chance that the public-will to live in a clean environment, you know, is enhanced because they’re seeing what can happen when we get rid of pollution.”

The panelists also say that air quality responds quickly to environmental changes, but the challenge will be in figuring out how to get back to a fuller economy with cleaner air, and if travel habits will remain changed as the pandemic runs its course.

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