COVID was a positive sickness for the environment

Seth Eaton, Opinion Section Editor

As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic was a rough and struggling time for all. Surely we are tired hearing about the harmful effects and impact this terrible virus brought to our world, but for the environment, the pandemic was the best thing to ever happen. 

It’s not hard to imagine quarantine serving the environment well. With everything that was shut down, travel and transportation was low and there were very few factories running. The decrease in the amount of transportation and running factories means less emissions of greenhouse gasses and pollutants. 

According to Bloomberg, in 2020 there was a 7% decrease in global carbon emissions compared to 2019. 

The air quality in large cities such as Los Angeles was the best it has been in years.

With people confined in their homes, there was less pollution and trash. Sights of wildlife returning to what were usually polluted wasteland and waterways were reported often in 2020.

Unfortunately most of these environmental improvements did not last long. Scientists now say we are back at the high release of emissions as we were before the pandemic.

The US News does mention one positive that has resulted from the pandemic. 49% of people in the US drive less now than before the pandemic. Although there is no evidence, this leads us to assume that with the decrease in driving, the less carbon pollutants emitted.

Climate change causes droughts and other environmental hazards

In 2011, the East African country Somalia faced a terrible drought, resulting in a nationwide famine and the death of nearly 260,000 people. 

Assuming the climate was just a fluke, scientists claimed that there would never be a drought like this again. Eleven years later, scientists are now saying an upcoming drought could be the deadliest one yet. 

According to Climate Home News, “More than 300,000 people in Somalia will be in famine by December [2022].”

Once again, climate change strikes again. The release of emissions causes unexpected and disruptive weather patterns, which can lead to floods and droughts. 

Scientists believe that these emissions causing droughts in Africa are the fault of foreign nations. The continent of Africa releases a fraction of what the U.S and Eurasian nations release. It is interesting how the amount of harm one nation does to their own environment can spread and damage others. 

Even though a nation-wide famine may be taking place in an African country due to the excessive carbon emissions of the U.S. or Eurasia, the African nation is on their own. 

While other factors come into play, such as the food market in Africa not being equitable, foreign nations should take some form of responsibility. Whether it is directly supplying food, working to fix the unfair market, or reduce harmful emissions, help should be given. 

Should we convert to renewable and clean energy, the occurrence of droughts and floods could decrease, as well as the probability of famines. 

Tesla, a not so green car

As mentioned in my previous post, gasoline powered cars play a large role in climate issues. Cars release a lot of harmful pollutants and carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Elon Musk’s Tesla was the first company to introduce electric cars to the world. The idea of a non-gasoline powered, zero emission vehicle was meant to catch people’s attention and reduce the harmful impact we have on the environment. 

Although having promising qualities, Tesla still is by no means an environmentally friendly vehicle.

Teslas and all electric cars require a lithium-ion battery. The only way to get lithium is by mining it. Mining for lithium is very destructive and tears up the earth. Not only do you have to destroy a lot of earth to get very little lithium, but some mining processes consist of dumping toxic chemicals into the environment.

The melting of the lithium itself releases harmful emissions. The putting together of the vehicle is not a clean process.

Being an electric car, people tend to overlook where the energy comes from. The assumption that the energy must be clean because it does not come from combustion of gasoline is incorrect. The energy is usually sourced from a local power plant, more than likely including the use of fossil fuel combustion. 

Yes, Tesla’s are better for the environment in comparison to gasoline powered cars, but they are not necessarily environmentally friendly. In order to achieve this title, vehicles must steer away from fossil fuels completely.