Earth Day: How has COVID-19 changed the planet? |

Apr 22, 2020 9:00:18 AM | Earth Day Earth Day: How has COVID-19 changed the planet? |

Earth Day 2020 is particularly meaningful because it marks the 50th anniversary of the holiday. We explore how COVID-19 has changed the planet.


Porapak Apichodilok |

ACHS would like to wish each and every one of you a Happy Earth Day. This Earth Day is particularly meaningful, because it marks the 50th anniversary. We know in this time of uncertainty, it is difficult to embrace the idea of celebration. The goal of Earth Day is to unite people around the world on issues such as climate change, pollution, deforestation, and plastic waste. As we voluntarily limit our exposure to others outside our homes to reduce the spread of COVID-19, this seems like an unrealistic enterprise.

What if we told you that what we are already doing might already be benefiting our planet?

“We’re still very early in terms of planetary response, in terms of how the Earth breathes and changes in this changed situation. So, I think we will see the signature of this event in the data for many weeks to come.”

-Scott Collis, Atmospheric Scientist and head of the Geospatial Computing, Innovations, and Sensing (GCIS) department in the Environmental Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory [1].


What we are seeing so far…..

Central Pollution Control Board data shows Ganges River found to be suitable for bathing at most monitoring centers now [2].

ganges river by lensnmatterlensnmatter| Flicker Public Domain


S&P Global Platts Analytics reports natural gas usage in Italy is down [3].


Pixabay |

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) has observed a reduction around 20-30% in nitrogen dioxide concentrations in parts of China [4].

architecture-asian-building-castle-189833zhang kaiyv |

The European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite show bluer skies across Europe [5].

architecture-building-castle-daylight-404313Snapwire |

NASA satellite images show improvements in air quality in Northeastern U.S. [6].


wfhayes |

And nature begins to occupy spaces in profound ways…

Brazil's deserted beaches are now home to nearly 100 critically endangered Hawksbill turtles, once again [7]!

sea-turtles-1503461_1920272447 |

Sika roam the streets of Japan without human interference [8].

deer-3970148_1920pen_ash |

Wild boar roam the streets of barcelona [9].

nature-4997531_1920barmalyanich |

And wild goats explore the streets of a small town in Wales.


Whether through improved air quality or reduced greenhouse gas emissions, pandemic-driven changes in our behavior are having an affect on our environment.

While the devastation of this pandemic is nothing to ignore, these changes demonstrate that this global health disaster is an opportunity to assess the way we live. Any positive environmental impact is temporary unless we continue to change our habits when all is said and done.

This is an opportunity on what might be possible if we all continue to change our lives on a global scale.

Be the change you wish to see in the world -Mahatma Gandhi

Celebrating Earth Day Digitally

How can we celebrate Earth Day this year? Here are a few ideas.

Help gather environmental data

You can use the Earth Challenge 2020 app to gather critical environmental data about air quality and plastic pollution! The app is available in the iTunes App Store and on Google Play.

"Earth Challenge makes it easy for everyone to monitor the environment! Capture research quality environmental data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. The Earth Challenge app not only lets you engage in citizen science to record the environment around you, but it also provides you with the tools to help protect it" [11].

Make an Earth Day window sign gives some tips on making a window sign:

"Earth Day 2020 is going digital to protect public health, but the classic cardboard sign (or poster board, or paper, or whatever’s at hand) can let your neighbors know they can get involved. One of the easiest ways you can get ready while practicing hands-on advocacy is to put a sign in your window.

There’s one big difference between a window sign and a marching sign: followup! You have to give people who see it something to do next. We recommend including #EARTHRISE, #EarthDay2020, or on your sign" [11].

You can get ideas for what to write on your sign here:

24 Hours of Action

Join as they issue a new call to action every 24 hours on Earth Day. You can also find a list of actions on their website, from doing a solo trash clean-up to making your next meal plant-based:

How are you celebrating Earth Day this year? Comment and let us know.


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[1] Caine, P. (2020, April 2). Environmental Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns Seen from Space. Retrieved from

[2] Pti. (2020, April 2). Lockdown: Health of river Ganga improves. Retrieved from

[3] Italian power, gas demand slump illustrates how coronavirus has crippled industry. (2020, March 21). Retrieved from

[4] Amid Coronavirus outbreak: Copernicus monitors reduction of particulate matter (PM2.5) over China. (2020, April 3). Retrieved from

[5]Air pollution remains low as Europeans stay at home. (2020, April 16). Retrieved from

[6] Mathewson, S. (2020, April 10). NASA satellite sees air pollution drop over northeastern US amid coronavirus outbreak. Retrieved from

[7] Endangered sea turtles hatch on Brazil's deserted beaches. (2020, March 29). Retrieved from

[8] Singh, M. (2020, March 22). Emboldened wild animals venture into locked-down cities worldwide. Retrieved from

[9] McCoy, T. (2020, April 15). As humans stay indoors, wild animals take back what was once theirs. Retrieved from

[10] Earth Challenge 2020 - Apps on Google Play. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[11] Make an Earth Day window sign. (n.d.). Retrieved from

American College of Healthcare Sciences

Written By: American College of Healthcare Sciences

ACHS's mission is to lead the advancement of evidence-based, integrative health and wellness education through experiential online learning and sustainable practices. This includes sharing helpful, informative, holistic healthcare articles on the ACHS Health and Wellness Blog.