By Jajanai Stradford
COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus, has offset every individuals’ life globally. In the United States alone, over one hundred thousand people have been infected with the disease and thousands of people have died from it. As of March 31, 2020, President Trump projects that the death toll for the virus will jump to between 100,000 and 240,000. (Armus) In addition, over three million Americans have lost their jobs as a result of the social distancing the government is now requiring all people in the nation to do – causing all ‘non-essential’ businesses to close. (Scott) While there are still millions of Americans who are working, many of them are forced into high-risk environments such as grocery store workers. Although, millions of Americans have also begun to work remotely from home due to the circumstances.
The significant decrease in Americans traveling has resulted in a notable decrease in air pollution and greenhouse gases across the globe. This is due to the majority of people within the nation that are adhering to the required ‘shelter-in-place’. Outside of those still commuting to work, people can mainly only travel to grocery stores, hospitals, and gas stations. This is because of businesses that have shut down, the transport services that have closed, and the employees that are working remotely from their homes. According to an article on BBC, “researchers such as Glen Peters of the Center for International Climate and Environment Research in Oslo have noted that overall 2020 may still see a drop in global emissions of 0.3%.” (Henriques) In addition, New York alone has had about a 50% drop in pollution in March 2020 and China’s drop in pollution – beginning in January 2020 – has resulted in more blue skies due to a 21.5% increase in ‘good air quality days’. (Wright)
While these extremely positive environmental benefits will not last following the pandemic, businesses can take certain steps to allow the planet to continue reaping some of the benefits. With more companies allowing employees to work from home rather than commuting to work, the low amounts of pollution and greenhouse gases that exist at present can be somewhat maintained. Not only can companies save thousands of dollars annually from telecommuters, but certain security precautions and network limitations can be implemented as well in order to ensure effectiveness. Focus groups on employee morale show that those who work remotely from home under a modified schedule, as opposed to those who commute to work under a strict schedule, are more productive and content in their careers. (Nagele)
Companies that enable employees to telecommute permanently will allow both their workers and the Earth to reap the benefits of doing so. While we can’t make everyone stay at home to reduce pollution, we can do our part in helping to improve the conditions of the planet.