Over the past month, the world has changed drastically. The incomprehensible has occurred. The deadly wildfire that is coronavirus has spread across the entire planet. It has taken the lives of many, shut down businesses, and created a divide in society. Our planet though, seems to be thriving while most of us are quarantined inside.
Given that our day to day lives are shut down for the time being, the most polluted places in our world are now becoming notably clean. From cities like Los Angeles and New York, to countries such as China and Italy, the fog of pollution is fading away.
The New York Times reports that the coronavirus has led to a halt of economic activity and an immense reduction in the use of fossil fuels. The course of action China took to contain the spread of COVID-19 caused an estimated 25 percent decline in carbon emissions. The Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air estimates this to be about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide.
In Venice, Italy, the canals have become clearer, and an absence of boat traffic has arisen. The European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-5p satellite reports that between January and March, concentrations of nitrogen dioxide decreased tremendously.
The improvements in our climate are not to take away from the tragedy this pandemic has brought upon our communities. How we respond to this epidemic will have a large effect on the future of the climate crisis. The measures put in place to rebuild our economic activity will decide the shape of our financial systems, impacting carbon emissions for the next few centuries.
The virus is teaching humanity an important lesson about neglecting damaging long term disasters. Even when early segments seem like nothing, the coronavirus’ exponential increase shows how it soon becomes unbearable. Waiting to take action is our downfall.
Crist, Meehan. “What the Coronavirus Means for Climate Change.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 27 Mar. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-climate-change.html.
“What the Coronavirus Curve Teaches Us About Climate Change.” POLITICO, www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/26/what-the-coronavirus-curve-teaches-us-about-climate-change-148318.