A silver lining of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been the temporary environmental benefits that various lockdown measures have brought about. These are likely to end as lockdown measures are eased; indeed, air pollution from traffic is likely to be worse, as people may prefer driving to using public transit. Still, lockdowns have allowed people to see the effects of significant societal changes on the environment. A new special collection of papers in the journal Science Advances will explore the relationship between pandemics, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the environment — emphasizing the ways that global processes are interconnected. The nitrogen dioxide levels were detected using the Ozone Monitoring Instrument onboard a NASA satellite and the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument mounted on a European Space Agency satellite. The team found significant reductions in nitrogen dioxide at two points: when the COVID-19 outbreak was first announced and when lockdown measures were implemented in response. Nitrogen dioxide levels typically reduce around the Lunar New Year because factories shut down and there are fewer vehicles on the roads. However, this time, the reduction was around 21% greater than those between 2015 and 2019.