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Can COVID-19 Make Us More Health-Conscious and Environmentally Aware (for Good)?

June 1, 2020

For all the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked on human lives, some have noted that bringing traffic to a virtual standstill has at least one benefit from a dire tragedy. Fewer cars mean cleaner air and cleaner air is healthful. This might save lives in the midst of a pandemic that impacts people’s lungs. In this way, the pandemic underscores the importance of keeping pollution reduction goals on track. At Ampion, we believe cleaner air is a vital component of public health and safety. But are the effects of the virus really doing anything for our environment? The answer is: Yes, no, and it all depends. Let’s take a look.

Breath of Fresh Air: It’s Safer to Breathe Now.

While it’s nearly impossible to praise anything related to this virus and ensuing tragedy, we can praise many of our governors’ responses to it. And we can note that urban air quality improved internationally when people avoided transportation for a while. This is the conclusion drawn from new air quality research examining high-smog cities worldwide, Los Angeles and New York City included. Check out L.A. with crystal clear skies! Meanwhile, NASA found 30% less nitrogen dioxide emitted over the Northeastern U.S. region in March 2020.

Our lives have changed to adapt to the dangers we’ve faced in 2020. We’re showing we can change our lives to deal with hazards and increase our safety. That said, we don’t want to have a pandemic — with its illness, job losses, and social disconnections — to attain breathable air. The way to a sustainable environment for all isn’t to react to emergencies. The better way is to help those who need us, to learn what we must from upheaval, and strive for stronger policies and practices that keep our environment clean while still keeping people working and playing.

An Effect That’s Less Discussed: People Are Fleeing the Cities.

With lockdown orders being lifted, people are returning to all the things they were doing before that contributed to air pollution. And greenhouse emissions are likely to rebound with a vengeance if we haven’t acted to change fuel sources. The price of fuel has dropped during this health emergency, which will create even more emissions.

But there’s more. People who can afford to leave apartments, condos and townhouses in the big cities for larger homes in out-of-the-way places are doing so. They are leaving denser city life because of COVID-19, and many of them do not expect to return to urban living after the restrictions ease. Once at home in the suburbs, they’ll be driving more, and burning more fossil fuels to run their homes. In truth, one way they can offset the emissions impact of the exodus to suburbia is to embrace community solar!

The Way Ahead: Community Solar – Change That Lasts

We’re here to facilitate the lasting transformation of our energy grid. At Ampion, our job is to help everyone know there’s a new way to see electricity — not just in emergencies, but for good. Community solar projects support a healthier, stronger community by lowering carbon emissions, saving people money and supporting local economic development.

Why should it be just wishful thinking to want lower pollution levels and beautiful urban vistas to last beyond the public health crisis? We’re not just wishing. We’re working to make healthful energy use the norm. And we constantly promote an economic stimulus effect for clean energy suppliers who help people and their economies thrive. Contact us to join the shift to solar, and let’s help make cleaner skies and clearer air prevail all while supporting local economies and communities.

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