While there may not be much positive news related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the one narrative that had a bit of a silver lining in an otherwise dark and worrisome time has been the impact on the environment.

How Did This Trend Start?

NASA’s image of the day on March 2, 2020 was one of the first rays of positivity, when it presented a satellite image comparison of the skies over China. As a result of the economic slowdown that resulted from the spread of the virus, pollution levels dropped an unprecedented amount over the course of just a month and didn’t rebound like it traditionally does after the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Stories about the positive impact on the environment didn’t end there. In our analysis of more than 2,000 stories centered on the environmental impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, 40% of them focused on pollution decline.

40% of Articles Centered Around COVID-19 and The Environment Were About Pollution Decline

A look at the timeline of news coverage shows how this NASA image kicked off a series of positive stories, from pollution plummeting in the United States and India, to the Himalayas being visible from ground level for the first time in 30 years…

There Was a Significant Uptick in Articles Regarding the Impact of COVID-19 on The Environment in The Past Month

…the latter of which, received the highest average social engagement out of all the clusters covering the positive effects of COVID-19 on the environment (and we’ll explain why later in this post).

Coverage of The Himalayas Being Visible for the First Time in 30 Years Gained The Most Social Engagement in The Analysis

And there’s even more positivity to be drawn from this improvement in air quality. When you take a look at the overall cluster, the upper left quadrant shows that there was a significant amount of coverage dedicated to studies demonstrating how pollution amplifies COVID-19 fatality rates, so in theory, this dip in emissions should help improve survival rates.

Data Visualization of Articles Covering The Environmental Impact of COVID-19

Who Were the Key Opinion Leaders in These Positive Conversations?

When looking at who the most prominent figures were in the stories centered around pollution declining, it was NASA Air Quality Researcher Fei Liu who received the most mentions, primarily due to the coverage of pollution declining in China. It’s also worth noting that Stanford Associate Professor, Marshall Burke and Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air Lead Analyst, Lauri Myllyvirta had the most diversity in topics, with both being mentioned in stories focused on air pollution plummeting in the US and satellite imagery from the European Space Agency satellite.

Key Opinion Leaders in Our Analysis of Articles Covering The Environmental Impact of COVID-19

A look at these top 15 key opinion leaders in terms of social engagement shows that while he wasn’t mentioned as frequently, stories mentioning India international cricketer, Harbhajan Singh had the highest number of average social engagement thanks to his tweet featuring a picture of the now visible Himalayas, which helps to explain why this cluster had the highest average social engagement among those focused on the positive effects of COVID-19 on the environment.

Harbhajan Singh Helped Drive Social Engagement in Articles About The Himalayas Being Visible at Ground Level for The First Time in 30 Years

What’s Next?

As narratives around the Coronavirus evolve, so will the stories around the virus’ impact on the environment. Similarly, key topics and narratives impacting your brand are evolving every day, and you’ll need to stay on top of them to ensure that your company is presented in a positive light. Ensure that you’re not caught off guard by requesting a personalized demo of Quid today.

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