The Environment Over the Past Year

The Environment Over the Past Year

Mikaela Voinov, Staff Writer

The pandemic and its effect on every aspect of our lives will undoubtedly become a hallmark of this decade. While there was so much sadness and disparity to come out of these harrowing times, there were also slight upsides to this new normal of social distancing and less socializing. A prime example of this is the environment. While the state of the climate and environment is still not anywhere near ideal, the new guidelines as a result of the pandemic have actually been observed to improve the state of many natural aspects. Because there have been far less people out and about, the air quality has drastically improved in cities. Transport activities have decreased–meaning less energy consumption and lower oil use. Industrial admissions were down about 18% which benefits the condition of the environment in so many ways. Though these recent effects are a hopeful start, they are not nearly enough to make a dent in the climate crisis: a problem that has been mounting since the middle of last century. 

Climate change is a result of the holes in the ozone layer, caused by greenhouse emissions. This hole in the protective atmospheric level allows sunlight to directly heat the Earth, warming it much more rapidly than it would naturally. This causes events like melting of sea ice (which increases the sea levels), poor air quality, increased wildfires, reduced agricultural productivity, flooding in coastal areas, etc. Though many still deny the existence of this meteorological event, there has recently been a surge of larger, and more frequent dangerous weather events like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and many more. Many of these weather events are resultant of the change in ocean currents and atmospheric circulation patterns–both of which are being altered by changes in the climate over the past few decades. 

Though these recent occurrences seem pretty grim, President Biden is set to roll out a major infrastructure package that will include large increases in federal spending towards climate change. He also plans to install thousands of charging stations around the country and construct millions of homes that reduce the amount of energy consumed. These initiatives are part of the “Build Back Better” program which aims to achieve a carbon-free power generation by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050. While the spending on these issues might rise significantly, it will pay off in the long run, according to this initiative, which aims to ultimately reduce the amount of carbon emissions by the US. 

Though the world has a long way to go–and almost a century’s worth of damage to undo–experts are saying it might not be too late to avoid/lessen some of the effects of climate change primarily by reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The disparaging state of our climate has been a major topic of discussion at the United Nation the past decade, as well as the focal point of many “green” initiatives. Because of the awareness this issue has generated, many are now more educated and socially aware of their individual effects on the planet, and how each individual effort makes a difference in the fight against climate change.