With social distancing keeping people off the roads and out of the skies, air quality has seen drastic improvements around the world. Carbon emissions are projected to fall by 4 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. In China, the extended shuttering of factories temporarily cleared the country’s infamous smog and significantly lowered pollution rates. Perhaps an even more enduring result of the coronavirus may be wildlife conservation efforts in Asia, thanks to enhanced scrutiny of wet markets (where it’s suspected the virus made the leap to humans). Vietnam, one of the biggest offenders, has recently banned all wildlife imports and closed all of its wildlife markets. The good news has been—well, really good.
However, the same cannot be said for our oceans, which have been hard hit in recent months. COVID-19 triggered an estimated global use of 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves every month. If we stitched together all of the masks manufactured already, and projected to be produced, we’d be able to cover the entire landmass of Switzerland.
The practical problems with gloves and masks finding their way into our rivers and oceans is that they can easily be mistaken for jellyfish, a favorite food of sea turtles. Because of their elastic components, masks also have increased risks of entanglement for a wide variety of fish, animals and birds.
COVID-19 also worsen marine pollution in more aspects. Let’s follow us to find out more about the affect of COVID-19 to the ocean.