Stay at home. It's good for you and the environment during this time.
Second to China, Italy has become the worst-hit country by the coronavirus pandemic. As the nation went into a complete shutdown to decelerate the spread of the virus, the streets are deserted and the roads are empty; even tourist places that once used to be swarming with tourists are now left alone. But the best part has to be the effect this is having on the Italian coast.
The tourism industry may have taken a hit, but it's proving to be a blessing in disguise for the environment. The ban of all non-essential travel resulted in loud noises and disturbances being replaced with a calm atmosphere, according to abc.net.au. With the usually overcrowded alleys of the lagoon city now fairly silent, some unexpected visitors are making their way through the canals of Venice.
The coronavirus pandemic has had an unexpected side effect in Venice—where the normally cloudy canals have transformed into water crystal clear enough to see fish swimming below. https://t.co/eaBoaUXxn4 pic.twitter.com/LtEAAVQnix— ABC News (@ABC) March 19, 2020
The water in the canals of Venice seems much clearer as a result of all the motorboats and gondolas being left unused. "There are no boats, there is no traffic. Definitely, it is cleaner," said Serguei Michtchenko, a resident of Venice.
Thought I’d spread abit of positivity for you guys. Since the lockdown of Venice without the pollution from boats the water has been begun to clear up and a dolphin has been spotted in the canal for the first time in nearly 60 years! #venice pic.twitter.com/dbq4mGhfnp— Jack (@NotLacazette) March 17, 2020
The usually murky canals are no longer overburdened with water traffic, and it's given way to beautiful sights of fish and dolphins. Even the canal's bottom is nearly visible.
Among the hopeful posts that have been shared on social media, pictures from Venice have also been shared and they are truly marvelous to see.
😳 😳 😳 #venice— Aurel Boriçi (@AurelBoriciBT) March 18, 2020
An unexpected side effect of the pandemic: 💧Water's flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever.
🐟 🦢 The fish are visible, the swans returned pic.twitter.com/crWf4kdZ1M
While a number of spectacular sights have been captured after the canal's waters cleared up, the Venice mayor's office said that it is not an indication of the water quality having improved.
"The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom," a spokesperson said, according to CNN. "It's because there is less boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water's surface."
But there is one positive side effect from the pandemic. The spokesperson added, "The air, however, is less polluted since there are less vaporetti and boat traffic than usual because of the restricted movement of residents."
In China, too, the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak has given the country clearer skies, as reported by CNN. With the shutdown of factories and residents isolating themselves at home, the average number of "good quality air days" in the Hubei province increased by 21.5% in February when compared to the same time frame from last year, as pointed out by China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
Prior to the severe measures taken to slow down the rampant spread of the virus, a visible cloud of toxic gas was hovering over industrial powerhouses in major cities of China. But after the drastic lifestyle changes were implemented, satellite images released by NASA and the European Space Agency show that the cloud has almost disappeared.
"This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event," said Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "I am not surprised because many cities nationwide have taken measures to minimize the spread of the virus."
Signs like these might show that our planet might become an unintended recipient of positive benefits from the coronavirus. Experts are taking the opportunity to show people that if drastic changes can be adopted for a pandemic, it's not impossible to do the same to save the environment.
The drastic measures enforced by China during the coronavirus outbreak have slashed deadly air pollution, potentially saving the lives of tens of thousands of people https://t.co/1YySIEgO22— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) March 18, 2020
"If we can think about how to prepare for climate change like a pandemic, maybe there will be a positive outcome to all of this," said Christopher Jones, lead developer of the CoolClimate Network, an applied research consortium at the University of California, Berkeley, according to NBC News. "We can help prevent crises in the future if we are prepared. I think there are some big-picture lessons here that could be very useful."
The biggest hope now is that the improvement in air quality is not temporary. When countries and economics resume after the crisis, harmful emissions shouldn't recommence.
Jacqueline Klopp, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University in New York City, said, "As we move to restart these economies, we need to use this moment to think about what we value. Do we want to go back to the status quo, or do we want to tackle these big structural problems and restructure our economy and reduce emissions and pollution?"
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