April 22, 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which holds an entirely new meaning this year.
While people have been stuck at home, Earth has not suffered as much from pollution and air quality has improved as a result. People are driving less, reducing fossil fuels.
According to an Associated Press article titled “Earth is healing as people are staying home”, the nitrogen dioxide pollution in the northeastern United States has decreased by 30%. Nitrogen dioxide, along with smog and tiny particles, kills up to 7 million people a year worldwide, according to the president of Health Effects Institute, Dan Greenbaum.
A result of cleaner air quality is healthier lungs for children, who should be able to play outside and enjoy themselves without fear that they are risking their health long-term.
In addition, animals have been roaming their home freely. Coyotes are said to have been spotted wandering Michigan Avenue in Chicago lately, something they do not typically do when the city is overcrowded.
Let’s not forget the deer that can sometimes be seen roaming outside of the Main Campus. They’re probably prancing around happily now that traffic is gone.
Being stuck at home is also a great opportunity to absorb our beautiful surroundings and take them for what they are, not what humans manipulate them to be. It’s been a time for reflection, and thinking about the little everyday things that we may have taken for granted.
More people can be observed outdoors, walking and doing physical activity to counter their stresses and anxieties about being stuck at home or to cure their boredom.
Perhaps this sudden situation will make people think twice before throwing that paper bag out the window of their car or refuse to pick something up when it does not land in the garbage can.
It should give people hope that the Earth has been able to begin healing so quickly. We are ultimately getting a glimpse of how much better it can be — stars shining brighter, animals and humans both enjoying nature more… and harmful pollutants being reduced.
The Earth’s natural state is the best one. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
Only time will tell what will become of society and Mother Earth as we undergo this apparent reality check.