'The Start of Change' - a reflection by a High School student

Change ahead road sign

Disaster has struck. The world is in crisis. Yet the first thing that comes to mind after assessing our current situation is how we can't go out anymore or how we can't see our friends.

Everything that is going on is extremely crucial but we have to take time to reflect on all aspects of this crisis. For example, the virus has also taken a toll on the environment but not in the way that many may expect.

With most of the population restricted to their homes, the streets have been left empty and litter free. With factories and plants being shut down there have been significant drops in the amount of C02 being released into the atmosphere.

In the attempt to keep possibly infected people out of the country, the amount of air pollution produced by planes has decreased. All these are examples of what a little restriction and resilience can do for the environment.

An analysis by the Washington post found that high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in Italy's air have noticeably
decreased especially in the northern regions. Nitrogen dioxide is a gas which is harmful to the human lungs. This gas can cause the inflammation of the lungs or increase the risk of asthma. There is a direct link between the drop in nitrogen dioxide levels in the air and the halting of factory production and imposition of quarantine.
One of the most noticeable environmental changes that we all have witnessed are in the waters of the Venice canals.

The canals have shown a change in colour since the imposition of the quarantine. As less tourists and people are moving about and polluting the river, the waters have cleared significantly and fish can be seen swimming along the canals, it is also said that the river had never been so clear!

This is not to say that the virus is in any way a positive thing. The negatives thoroughly outweigh its positive environmental impacts but if anything at all we can say that the virus is an eye opener.

It is an eye opener on what a little sacrifice can achieve in the world. An eye opener on how if a large group of people decide to instill a change there is a chance that we can keep all these positive changes constant.

Even after the quarantine we should still strive to move in a positive direction. It is evident in statistics and in the changes we have seen that life before the virus was unsustainable. We should learn from what's going on. If you can walk to your destination go for it! Whether it's school or work it will help you keep fit and you can get a breath of fresh air while you're at it. If you can recycle that plastic bag don't hesitate to do it, it's saving aquatic life. In as much as we all love travelling to new countries, there's still so much to explore locally and having fewer long haul holidays can reduce the carbon dioxide emitted from planes. If that assignment can be worked on at home don't hesitate to work from your laptop because that trip to the office in a car is affecting greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. If you can turn off that light switch it's going to reduce energy consumption levels and help conserve energy. Instead of feeling the constant need to go out or leave home we can focus on the little things in life, like our loved ones and close friends. Stay safe and informed.

- Karen M., Year 11 IGCSE student and Eco Committee member