Surrounded by negative news everywhere you turn? Yes, that’s me. Thank you COVID-19. There is one silver lining though in everything Corona has brought, it has massively helped the environment.
New York’s pollution levels have plummeted by almost half due to the pandemic. The quality of ‘good air’ in 337 cities in China is up by 11.4% when compared to last year. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions are waning over Spain, Northern Italy and the UK. The improvement in air quality over the past month of the coronavirus lockdown has led to 11,000 fewer deaths from pollution in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, reveals The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
Flying sends carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and the lack of air travel is something that has dramatically improved the climate crisis. In fact, global demand for air travel is down 70% according to the International Air Transport Association. In March, aeroplane emissions fell by almost a third as the coronavirus lockdown grounded flights around the world. This is a drop in emissions equivalent of taking 6m cars off the road.
In Venice, the water in the canals has cleared and experienced greater water flow and visibility of fish (not to mention dolphins as well). The Venice mayor’s office has announced that the increase in water clarity was due to the settling of sediment that is disturbed by boat traffic.
Cigarette smoking causes environmental pollution by releasing toxic air pollutants into the atmosphere. Cigarette butts also litter the environment and the toxic chemicals seep into waterways. New evidence suggests that 300,000 in the UK may have quit smoking during the coronavirus crisis. A further 550,000 have also tried to quit according to Action on Smoking and Health.
These are just a few examples of the positive environmental changes. Given that scientists have recently warned that we have less than ten years to reverse any damages, it is fantastic news. However, how long will these changes last? There could be an almost ‘whiplash’ effect afterwards. It is no secret that isolation has caused a sense of ‘cabin fever’ in many of us. Once this is over, there’s likely to be an increase in travel within our own countries as well as internationally.
Before you book that post-lockdown flight to somewhere warm and sunny, maybe think twice about what impacts this could have on the planet. One thing we can take from our current ‘normal’ is that we need to listen to what the experts say and not just in regards to our health. All they’re trying to is make the world a safer and happier place.