COVID-19 has spread across the globe and upended cultures, economies,and the rhythm of daily life in a heartbeat. Since the beginning of this year, socialstructures have collapsed, hospitals have been inundated, and governing bodieseverywhere have taken swift and decisive action to mitigate the growing health crisis. While people have endured economic hardship, illness, and loss, there’s another side ofCOVID-19. The Venice canals are clear for the first time in decades as a result ofreduced boat activity. Swathes of smog clouding cities all over the world have dissipatedto varying degrees. Carbon emissions levels are down. Do you know at the end of a Disney movie, when the protagonists defeat the villain, thismagic sweeps across the landscape and breathes life and color back into the world?We are living through the earth’s magical rebirth. It’s not permanent, it’s much slowerthan in the movies, and there are certainly no golden sparkles or triumphant musicalscores playing in the background, but it is magical to witness. Now, there’s been some fake news surrounding the environmental benefits of mass-quarantining. There has been an increase in online shopping, which generates moresingle-use packaging and greater use of fossil fuels for delivery trucks. Medical wastelevels are higher than average. Viral tweets and posts have claimed that animals arerepopulating the earth and reclaiming their habitats. Unfortunately, that’s not true, eitherthat sort of thing doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a complicated equation. Still, there have been some positive effects in the environment during quarantine, andan open discussion might create greater understanding and environmental efforts. Ifyou’ve been missing how much the world is shifting during this time, you’re not alone.Many of us have had other more pressing priorities.3 Ways the Earth is Healing During QuarantineHere’s how the planet has improved as we’ve all been staying at home:1. Decreased air pollution.Carbon emissions are way down. In the absence of planes, cars, trucks, and buses,levels of carbon dioxide have decreased. Carbon dioxide is one of the singular, mostproblematic facets of global warming. It traps the sun’s heat in the atmosphere andwarms the planet up at an alarming rate. Nitrogen dioxide emissions are also down. Without as many vehicles running, theamount of nitrogen dioxide being released into the atmosphere has dwindled. Keep inmind that humans also suffer the effects of nitrogen dioxide. According to the WorldHealth Organization, air pollution contributes to or causes seven million deaths peryear. 2. Less noise pollution in urban spacesImages of Times Square standing empty have gone viral. Stores and businesses areclosed, and the world is quieter, literally. City soundscapes have changed radically, andall living creatures are benefiting from this break from constant urban noise. Noise pollution can contribute to higher stress levels, high blood pressure, heartdisease, lack of sleep, and exhaustion. Birds are chirping as spring blooms around us,and we can hear them in urban spaces for the first time in ages. 3. Oceans are recoveringWithout cruise ships and shipping barges sailing the seas, underwater life has alsoenjoyed a decrease in noise pollution. Ship engines cause significant noise in oceanwaters. Constant vibrations and hums permeate the water’s surface and have tangibleimpacts on the health of marine life.An accidental experiment occurred right after 9/11 when a marine biologist recordedsignificantly decreased stress hormone levels in whales. When our world paused, andthe oceans shut down after the attack, marine life immediately showed improvedhealth. The same phenomenon is in action during COVID-19. Marine life is recovering now thanit has in years. Envisioning A Post-COVID-19 Future That Embraces Mother NatureWithout a doubt, our world has already changed irrevocably. Our global understandingof work, communication, and connection will never be the same. We have the chance tomake the same true for the planet. Quarantine has just given the world a briefrespite. COVID-19 will not generate any longterm improvement in climate change orglobal warming, though, unless we enact meaningful change from the ground up. This is a learning opportunity for us. We contribute to climate change and globalwarming every day. These changes in the environment during quarantine warrant aconversation. We can translate this experience into meaningful policy protections for the planet if enough of us notice and understand the environmental shifts. Our planet deserves better. DeeDee Hughes @thehowlingfernDeeDee is an artist, writer, and co-founder of The Howling Fern, a sustainable home decor brand focused on creating eco-friendly handmade goods. Her business and art practice is grounded in her passion for environmentalism, small businesses, and good design. She lives in Boston with her partner and rescue dog.