Coronavirus impact has reduced the air -pollution - Seeker's Thoughts

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Coronavirus impact has reduced the air -pollution


As human retreat into their homes as more and more countries go under coronavirus lockdown, wild animals are slipping cover to explore the empty streets of some of the biggest cities.


Wild boar have descended from the hills around Barcelona while deer are nosing their way somewhere in Japan. More birds are singing in France, foxes are out in the UK.

The most pronounced result, however, is the steep drop in pollution that’s come along with so many people staying put and bringing countless planes, trains and automobile to a halt.

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The European’s climate monitoring service, has revealed that from mid-February to mid-march, nitrous oxide levels over northern Italy were declining at a rate of about 10% per every week.



The European Environment Agency confirmed that pollution in Milan was 21% lower last week when compared to the same week in 2019. Similar trends have been observed in China.

India has one to 21 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities, but recently air pollution levels have started to drop dramatically as the second- most populated nation endures the second of a 21-day lockdown amidst coronavirus fears.



While the complete shutdown of India’s economy was designed to stop the spread of COVID-19, it is having an ancillary health benefit of clearing the air that millions of people were choking on.

Construction is put on hold, and factories stop production, the level of microscopic particulate matter, or PM 2.5, start to drop.


This is undoubtedly good news. The world health Organization estimates that 4.6 million people die every year from causes directly attributable to air pollution, so any kind of reduction can have a human impact.


Biggest drop in CO2 emissions since WWII but little impact on climate change

A new forecast produced by climate experts of the Global Carbon Project which produces widely-watched annual emission estimates, predicts that carbon dioxide emissions could by the largest amount since World War II.

According to Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University in California who chairs the projects – carbon output could fall by more than 5% this year – the first dip since a 1.4% reduction after the 2008 financial crisis.


“Neither the fall of the Soviet Union nor the various oil or savings and loan crises of the past 50 years are likely to have affected emission the way this crisis is”


According to the World Meteorological Organization, Any reduction in pollution and carbon dioxide emission are likely to be temporary.

There was a lot of media speculation about what impact the global pandemic might have on the climate, greenhouse gas emission and longer-term global warming.

“while in the short term carbon dioxide emissions would go down as cars stay put and aircraft remain on the ground, “we expect the impact will be fairy short-lived”

The pandemic will be over at some point and the world will start going back to work and with that, the CO2 emissions will pick up again, maybe or maybe not to quite the same level.


The common roots of COVID-19 and climate change

Despite the persistent climate denials in some policy circles, by now it is clear to the majority across the world that climate change is happening as a result of human activity namely industrial production.


In order to continue producing – and being able to declare that their economy is growing humans are harvesting the natural resources of the planet – water, fossil fuels, timber, land, ore, etc. – and plugging them into an industrial cycle which puts out various consumables ( cars, clothes, furniture, phones, processed food etc.) and a lot of waste.

This process depletes the natural ability of the environment to balance itself and disrupts ecological cycles (for example deforestation leads to lower CO2 absorption by forests), while at the same time, it adds a large amount of waste (for example C02 from burned fossil fuels). This, in turn is leading to changes in the climate of our planet.


This same process is also responsible for COVID-19 and other outbreaks. The need for more natural resources has forced humans to encroach on various natural habitats and expose themselves to yet unknown pathogens.

At the same time, the growth of mass production of food has created large-scale farms, where massive numbers of livestock and poultry packed into mega burns.


A socialist biologist Rob Wallace argues in his book Big Farms Make Big Flu, this has created the perfect environment for the mutation and emergence of new diseases such as hepatitis E, Nipah virus, Q fever and others.


Climate Change is happening



Although both COVID-19 and climate change rooted in the same abusive economic behaviour and both have proven to be deadly for humans, governments have seen them separate and unconnected phenomena and have therefore responded rather differently to them.


The vast majority of countries around the world – albeit with varying degree of delay have taken strict measures to curb the movement and gathering of people in order to contain the virus, even at the expense of economic growth.


The same has not happened with climate change. Current climate change measures have taken little heed of the scale and progression of the environmental changes we are experiencing. Climate change does not follow four- year election cycles or five-year economic plans. It does not wait for 2030 or 2050 Sustainable Development Targets.

Various aspects of climate change progress at different speeds and in different locations and although for some of us these changes might not be obvious or palpable, they are happening. There are also certain threshold which if crossed will cause change to be irreversible- whether in greenhouse gas concentration in atmosphere, the loss of insect populations or the melting of the permafrost.


And while we do not get daily updates on the death toll caused by climate change, as we do with COVID-19, it is much deadlier than the virus.

Global warming of 3 degree Celsius  and 4 degree Celsius  above pre-industrial levels could easily leads to a series of catastrophic outcomes. It could several affect our ability to produce food by decreasing the fertility of soils, intensifying droughts, causing coastal inundations, increasing the loss of pollinators, etc. it could also cause severe heat waves across the world, which have already proven increasingly deadly both in terms of high temperature and the wildfires they cause, as well as more extreme weather phenomena like hurricanes.



Pursuing the UN sustainable Development Goals, carbon offsetting schemes, incremental eco-efficiencies, and vegan diets for the wealthy and other similar tactics will not stop climate change because they do not discourage mass industrial production and consumption but simply shift their emphasis.

Such approaches will never work because they do not entail the necessary radical change of our high-powered lives that is required to force us to slow down and reduce our emissions.


The rapid response to COVID-19 around the world illustrates the remarkable capacity of society to put the emergency brake on “business- as- usual” simply by acting in the moment. It shows that radical actions can be taken.

Lockdown across the world have already resulted in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emission and pollutants. This temporary decrease in greenhouse gases should not be a cause for celebration. The fact is that as a result of the lockdowns.



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