Although the abrupt lifestyle transition driven by global “shelter in place” orders has presented many challenges, it has also given us a glimpse of what could be, long after we recover from this pandemic. Impacts from COVID-19 are causing people to re-evaluate many of our current systems– healthcare, the traditional work schedule and benefits, and sanitation guidelines in public spaces, to name a few—and opportunities to improve these systems, thus improving humans’ overall quality of life. So, what is to be learned about our natural environment as a result of this?
One of the most promising things to note is the improvement in overall air quality. In China, a 50% reduction in nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide due to the shutting down of heavy industries and factories was observed by NASA. Los Angeles reported some of its cleanest air quality since at least 1995, according to The Washington Post. Similar improvements have been reported around the world.
In Dallas, this offers some hope of reprieve from poor air quality, if we apply the lessons learned during this time. Although current local air monitoring data is still being analyzed for notable changes, it can be inferred that Dallas will reap air quality benefits from reduced air and on-road traffic, slowed or halted industrial processes, and reduced energy generation and consumption.
How can we ensure that Dallas stays on this trajectory long after the stay-at-home orders have ended? On May 27th, Dallas’ first Comprehensive Environmental & Climate Action Plan (CECAP) will go before Council for approval. Implementation of the CECAP means initiating actions across eight sectors– including Transportation, Energy, and Air Quality– that will help achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and reduce ozone pre-cursors from transportation, burning of fossil fuels, and energy use (sound familiar?) Support #DallasClimateAction so Dallasites can breathe clean air for generations to come, not just in a pandemic.