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An unforeseen side effect of the Coronavirus – a healthier planet


The Marine Discovery Centre comments on how we can further reduce our impact on climate change in the midst of a crisis. From clean canals to a plunge in pollutants; now is the time to realise there is an alternative way of living. Nature has been given a breath of fresh air – and us a new perspective.

At the Marine Discovery Centre, South Australia’s only marine educational facility, our focus is on a sustainable future. While we understand that this dip in the economy may yield only temporary environmental benefits before countries compensate for their losses, now is a good time to reflect on how we can prolong the positives post Covid-19.

Precedented by the 2008 recession global disasters, in particular ones impacting the economy, will result in a temporary decline in carbon emissions. Since Covid-19 began its spread in December 2019 in Wuhan China, simultaneously, greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 25% (Harvey, 2020). This is due decreased industrial activities in China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, as well as oil demand and air travel.

Figure 1: Comparison between pollutant levels in Wuhan, China in January against February 2020. (McGrath, 2020)


The European Space Agency noted nitrogen dioxide pollution over Northern Italy taper in quarantine. Given the lack of traffic and industrial activities, water in Venice has been crystal clear for the first time in years. “The water now looks clearer given less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom,” a spokesperson for the Venice mayoral office reports (Wright, 2020). As a result of diminished turbidity, populations of fish have reclaimed the waters.

Figure 2: Clear canals in Venice, March 2020 (Footer, 2020).


In New York, emissions of carbon monoxide have reduced by 50% given the lull in traffic, as well as a 5-10% descent in CO2 and a reduction in methane (McGrath, 2020). How can we reduce our impact here, and follow the steps mapped out for us? We change our habits. At the Marine Discovery Centre’s ‘catchment to coast’ room, personal reduction of greenhouse gases and pollution is laid out. Making small changes all add up.


Works Cited:

Footer, M. (2020, March 16). The canals of Venice run clear as coronavirus halts traffic, bringing back ‘lagoon waters of ancient times’. Retrieved from Post Magazine:

Harvey, C. (2020). How the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Affecting CO2 Emissions. Scientific American.

McGrath, M. (2020, March 19). Coronavirus: Air pollution and CO2 fall rapidly as virus spreads. Retrieved from BBC News:

Wright, R. (2020, March 17). There's an unlikely beneficiary of coronavirus: The planet. Retrieved from CNN: