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Lockdown and environment

The Covid-19 completely messed up with our life and with the habits of the whole world. After the many national lockdowns, in few months we saw our daily life completely change. The environment though seemed to be affected not in a negative way as us humans.  

The environmental revolution of the lockdown

In this year we lived the vertiginous increase of the smart working, the reduction of the usage of the car and the mandatory to remain at home and to wear the mask. 

Even if it was for few months, this revolution of our habits had an interesting impact on the environment and the Planet. 

The European Enviroment Agency wrote a report where they analyzed the main environmental consequences of the pandemic.

lockdown and empty cities
Empty Rome. The lockdown emptied the cities and gave a breath to the environment.

The analysis is interesting because it identified some positive consequences on the short time, besides to some criticalities to which we have to quickly find a solution.

They found infact possible virtuos behaviours, aimed to restard in a much more sustainable way, without make the mistakes of the past. 

By analyzing the positive consequences on the environment in the short time, it’s possible to plan some long time decisions, so to decrease our impact on the environment. 

The idea is the one to avoid other future pandemics and to increase the positive effects that, far from being only temporary, might become long-lasting. 

Lockdown and Greenhouse gases emissions: a positive sign

One of the most positive effects of the lockdown was the reduction of the greenhouse gases. Infact, a short time data demonstrates that there was an extraordinay reduction of these harmful gases globally.

Only in the 2020, in Europe, it was recorded a reduction of the greenhouse gases emissions of the 7,6%.

The reasons are connected to a big change in the working and living habits. With the smart working and with the reduction of the travels the whole industry of transports saw a huge decrease. Consequentially there was a drop of the emissions.  

It is a positive sign in the short time, which might bring to an increase and a growth of the usage of the renewable energies.

Even the global policy might guarantee a transiction toward a cleaner and more sustainable energy for the whole world, so to restart in a more sustainable way.

Reduction of the atmosphere pollution: cleaner air

Another positive aspect for the environment it was the improvement of the quality of the air. The drop of the transports made infact fall even the concentrations of NO2 and PM10, the most harmful elements that worst the air pureness.

In the most polluted cities, like Milan and Madrid, these reduction arrived even to the 70%. 

This improved the quality of the air and it had an important effect on the human health. Not only, this change might even have a connection with the spreading of the Covid.

A long exposure on the polluted air increase the risk factors and the vulnerability to the virus that affects that respiratory tract.   

Recent studies show not only the connection between the pollution of the air and the spreading of the Covid, but even the ability of the SARS-CoV-2 to be attached to the particles of the PM10.

Even though they are studies to be deepen yet, we can find a teaching on it: our actions, while affecting the environment and the natural ecosystems, directly affect our health. 

Negative effects of the Lockdown

It’s not all sunshine. Infact, between the negative effects of the lockdown there is an increase of the disposable plastic.  

This increase comes from healthcare reasons. Masks, gloves, plastic bottles of sanitizers and many others safety devices for the virus containment made them exponentially grown. 

lockdown negative effects
One of the negative aspect of the lockdown and of the Covid-19 was an increase of the plastic products consumption.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the global monthly request of masks is about of 89 million of pieces, while the one of gloves is about 76 millions.   

Always for healthcare reasons, increased even the plastic packaging for the online orders, but even the usage of plastic products for the take away, which exponentially increased too. 

In this case there is a solution in the short time because it’s a healthcare need. On the long term though the consequences might be disastrous. By considering that the online orders and the take away will grow again, we will have to increase the usage of more sustainable products, which already exist, but they aren’t common.  

Covid-19 and biodiversity

The most important lesson that we had from this pandemic is that our lifestyle has an essential importance on the destiny of all of us.  

As it was largly demonstrated, the Coronavirus is a zoonosis, which means a disease spreaded in some animal species that jumped from species to species, until to arrive to affect the human beings. 

This phenomena is strictly connected to the destruction of the environment and to the consequence loss of biodiversity, which was caused by the urbanization, the pollution and to the modern methods of industrial breading of the animals, which conditions increase the risks of infections and virus.  

The growing foothprint that the human being is leaving on the environment will bring to an exponential growth of these zoonosias: about the 60% of the new diseases that will be developed, infact, will come from animals. 

With the many lockdowns we gave a breath to the ecosystems, but because of the restarting it’s important to learn to re-build a better balance with the environment, by promoting a sustainable lifestyle, taking care of the plant and animals species that live on our planet. 

Especially, it’s important to redevelop the urban environments, by increasing the parks and the green areas to encourage a better co-living between the species. 

This post is also available in: Italiano

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