Experts say short-term environmental impact of pandemic is positive

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — With New York on pause, there are many less vehicles on the road. Environmentalists say this is doing a great thing for our ecosystem.

“I think, temporarily, the impact is quite large,” says Mathias Vuille, a Professor of Environmental Sciences at UAlbany.

Vuille says in New York State, more than one third of greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector.

“Obviously right now, there are many less cars on the road because most people are staying home, as they should,” Vuille says.

However, Vuille says it remains to be seen if spending more time in our homes is going to have a positive or negative impact, if any at all.

“People staying at home more means we may be using more appliances,” Vuille explains, “so from that point of view, we use more energy, but we use less in our offices, because many of them are closed.”

While the air might be cleaner lately, the rise in the use of plastic gloves has resulted in new litter on the streets. Local environmentalist and arborist Christian Grigoraskos says this is likely to do with the stress associated with the pandemic.

“What we’ve seen in the last few weeks is sort of a drastic, panicked reaction,” Grigoraskos says, “where if you don’t have your wits about you, you’re thinking the virus is all over your hands, and you want to get rid of these gloves as fast as you can.”

Even though we aren’t making as many trips to the store, and in theory, spending less time browsing for buying things we don’t need, Grigoraskos says it’s that same panic that made paper products fly off the shelves not long ago.

“People are apt to make more rash and consumptive decisions. So, on one hand, we’ve slowed down with non essential functions, but you know, all the toiletpaper sold out immediately,” Grigoraskos says.

The jury is still out on the long term environmental impacts caused by this pandemic, but for now, we can enjoy cleaner air, and quieter roads.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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