The Symbiotic Relationship Between the Coronavirus and Carbon Emissions

On a regular basis, when there isn’t a global pandemic taking place, the world is focused on other things such as crime rates, curing cancer, or gun control. One of the main issues that was sweeping the media “pre-corona” was global warming. Climate change has been the center of attention for many young and concerned voters and individuals. However, even with the onset of this disease, global citizens have noticed the symbiotic relationship between climate change activists and curing this disease.

It may seem inappropriate to look for a “bright side” to this global pandemic, but it is also hard to ignore. The recent limitations set in place by countries like the UK, the US, Italy, and China have caused billions of people to have to stay home, not drive, and not travel. No work. No school. No spread of disease. The purpose of setting these restrictions has been to “flatten the curve”. Flattening the curve is the concept of lowering and controlling the exponential growth of disease so that, when seen on a graph, the curve that shows diseases is as “flat as it can be”.

Thus far, it seems that people have really been trying to be as strict as possible in terms of following these orders in an attempt to avoid illness. However, there is another “side effect” to people staying in. According to Wagner University, about 800,000 people commute in and out of New York City every day. With these new restrictions in place to combat COVID-19, that is now a little less than 800,00o people that will not be releasing carbon emissions every day to get to work. While some “essential” businesses such as hospitals, financial offices, and restaurants may still be having commuters come in and out, the majority of office jobs that draw people to the city are having people work from home. 

With an increased number of people not going to work, and about 73 million school-aged children not going to school, carbon emissions just dropped. Dramatically. But how is the coronavirus outbreak being “helped” by the past carbon emissions?

According to The Hill, about 120,000 climate records were broken in 2019 alone. As more extreme weather takes place every day and as global temperatures rise, the days will get progressively warmer. Despite this being incredibly concerning for most people and the planet, it has proven to come in handy during the recent epidemic. Homes, schools, and office buildings have been able to have windows open during these past few unseasonably warm weeks, increasing the diffusion of water vapor and limiting spaces that need to be enclosed. By having more windows open, germs are able to spread out instead of residing in the noses and lungs are people in closed rooms. 

Similarly, during this past week and a half of quarantine, people have been taking the time to walk outside or to walk to the very few store trips they need to make. Because it has been so warm, people have the ability to comfortably walk to the store instead of driving, which further lowers carbon emissions. 

Finding the bright side during a global disease pandemic may seem like a waste of time and a sign of disrespect, but it may help boost morale and remind the citizens of the world that soon, this will all be over. While we are all stuck in our homes listening to countless video tutorials and our parents Zoom meetings, it may be a bit of a relief to think that having our cars in the driveway is better than having them on the roads.