As the CDC has strongly recommended that Americans stay in their homes until further notice to halt the spread of the coronavirus, air travel has dropped significantly. And although that means the quarantine has unfortunately canceled exciting plans of many eager travelers, there are some silver linings — less air travel actually means far less pollution than ever before.
In fact, it appears that carbon emissions given off from airlines have significantly lowered, and should continue to plummet, as the quarantine continues. Stay tuned for everything we know about this situation, which some people may consider a "blessing in disguise."
Carbon emissions from airlines could drop by more than 33% by the end of 2020.
With most "non-essential businesses" essentially closed nationwide, as well as a handful of travel embargoes set in stone, the desire to travel for pleasure has plummeted, and therefore, most airlines have scrapped a number of their scheduled flights, according to TIME. For the last few months, air travel has basically been at a record low for the first time in quite a while, which has resulted in lower airline-induced carbon emissions for the first time in several years.
Between Feb. 1 and March 19 of this year, carbon dioxide emitted from airlines was recorded to have decreased by about 10 million tons, and environmental experts predominantly attribute it to lowered air travel. In fact, the International Air Transport Association predicts that airlines' pollutant emissions could lower by over one third this year. Although you might end up missing out on that long-awaited trip to Aruba, it's definitely doing some good for Mother Earth.
Will this change the way we travel in the long run? Here's what we think.
Although many of us will definitely want to book a long and relaxing getaway after COVID-19 has officially run its course (guilty!), there's a relatively likely chance that this global pandemic will change the way businesses decide on travel plans. Because the coronavirus has inspired so many businesses to conduct meetings over video calls, according to The Bulletin, business executives may start seeing less of a reason to travel for work.
Prior to the coronavirus quarantine, Investopedia states that about 60 percent of airline passengers tend to be traveling for work, so scientists hope that increased video calls could ultimately inspire long-lasting sustainable habits. While many businesses may ultimately revert back to previous practices of traveling for meetings, these increased video conferences will (hopefully) encourage some business executives to change their generally wasteful ways.
Despite the circumstances that many are facing due to the spread of COVID-19, there are bright lights of hoping, reminding us that it's all going to be ok (and that we can make a difference in the fight against the climate crisis): carbon emissions from airlines have dropped, turtles have returned to beaches in Brazil, and smog has cleared from some of India's most polluted cities. While we're desperately hoping the disease runs its course sooner rather than later, we hope that we — as global citizens — continue to be mindful of our environment, hopefully instilling long-lasting habits to maintain planet Earth.