The transportation sector is the main greenhouse gas polluter across the United States, higher than energy production. This contributes to air pollution that, according to the World Health Organization, can be connected to millions of deaths every year. While pollution continues to be a huge concern, there are signs that pollution has taken a dip since stay-at-home orders have taken place as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Arian Horbovetz runs The Urban Pheonix Blog and says that while this has been an extremely difficult time, there have been some positives. “If there is a silver lining,” said Horbovetz, “It gives us an opportunity to see at least what we can do if we reduce these emissions both again from a global warming perspective, and from a health perspective.”
The volume of cars has decreased dramatically in Rochester as many stay at home. The drop in volume has resulted in a drop in pollution as well, although data is sparse and often limited to big cities.
According to the American Lung Association, as temperatures warm due to climate change, pollution will continue to have a significant impact on human health. They have been watching the situation of a reduction in pollution as a secondary impact of COVID19.
A significant change in workflow for many businesses could mean more working from home after the pandemic, according to Horbovetz. “I think companies are going to realize really, what percentage of their workforce they actually physically need at their desks.”
He expects the telecommute technology will continue to improve as demand remains high. This may keep people off the road that may ultimately result in less pollution. “This is the last way that we wanted to see this effect happen. We want to get back to a strong and thriving economy once again, but I think it does give us a little window into that we can change the way we treat our environment.”
The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is Wednesday, and while there are usually large marches held, this year will be all virtual.