As COVID-19 impacts the environment in the short-term, environmental leaders call for long-term plan

Posted at 7:48 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 20:48:09-04

MILWAUKEE — Directly and indirectly, the coronavirus is affecting every part of our lives, including the physical world around us.

"It is true that emissions are down right now from fewer cars being on the road and perhaps other consequences," Megan Severson, the state director for Wisconsin Environment, said.

While the scientific data is not out yet, Severson said that you could intuit that there is less pollution because far fewer people are driving.

Even the famous canals of Venice, Italy, see a change in color due to a lack of use.

"I think that really shows that we can make changes, we can have an impact on the way in which we interact with our environment," Jonathan Drewsen, the communications coordinator at Clean Wisconsin, said.

These examples show us how our environment is changing based on our new day-to-day routines, or lack thereof, because of the coronavirus.

However, experts say we already knew that burning fewer fossil fuels would be good for the environment.

"We don't need to have a pandemic to be able to really make the changes we ultimately need to have a healthier planet and healthier communities," Drewsen said.

"I would say there really are no silver linings with such a tragic circumstance," Severson said.

Changes are taking place, though. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources anticipates there will be less overall trash accumulation during quarantine month because people are working from home and not businesses. They say offices tend to accumulate more garbage than homes.

Plus, on Thursday, Gov. Evers ordered that 40 state parks close to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. This has the potential to help heal heavily used areas.

How much this will impact the environment is yet to be determined, though.

"The implications are so short-term, and we really need sound long-term plans," Severson said.

The DNR said that it would need some time and more data to examine the long term effects of quarantining.

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