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For one small moment in time we get a glimpse of a cleaner planet

April 10, 2020 9:00 AM

AS THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK BRINGS THE GLOBAL ECONOMY TO A VIRTUAL STANDSTILL SCIENTISTS SAY CARBON EMISSIONS COULD FALL BY THE LARGEST AMOUNT SINCE WORLD WAR TWO.

Reuters 31st March/2nd April

Climate Change

As people across the world try to maintain physical distance to stop the spread of Covid-19, new forecasts being produced by climate researchers offer a tiny sliver of good news in the midst of the human crisis enveloping the planet.

In February, US space agency NASA's maps showed how levels of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas from vehicles, power plants and factories, plummeted after the mass quarantine, compared with before and space images revealed a drastic fall in pollution over China as factories closed. Nasa said the change was at least partly related to the economic slowdown caused by efforts to contain the virus. Scientists have previously found the coronavirus wiped out at least a quarter of China's emissions of damaging greenhouse gases in just two weeks in mid-February reported The Independent

This week, residents living in northern India were able to photograph the Himalayas free from smog and air pollution.

Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University in California and chair of the Global Carbon Project, which produces widely-watched annual emissions estimates, told Reuters News, 'carbon output could fall by more than 5% year-on-year - the first dip since a 1.4% reduction after the 2008 financial crisis'. 'I wouldn't be shocked to see a 5% or more drop in carbon dioxide emissions this year, something not seen since the end of World War Two.'

The disease which has already infected over one million people and resulted in thousands of deaths has closed factories, grounded airlines and public and private transport and confined billions in their homes across the globe.

This sudden respite for our planet is likely to be short-lived however as governments work up stimulus packages to stop their economies collapsing and human behaviours return to normal. Already as China emerges from the lock-down emissions have started to rise again.

Kristopher Karnauskas, associate professor at the Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder reportedly said "I don't see any way that this is good news except for proving that humans drive greenhouse gas emissions."

We know what to do to end the climate emergency, the question is will the nations of the world take the necessary steps to secure the future of the planet for future generations? Without structural change, the emissions declines caused by coronavirus could be short-lived and have little impact on the concentrations of carbon dioxide that have accumulated in the atmosphere over decades.

Climate change world heating up

SOURCES: EXTRACTS

REUTERS/Aly SongMarch 31, 2020

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The Independent Satellite shows pollution drops over Europe amid CoronavIrus

Coronavirus cuts China's greenhouse gas emissions by a quarter Jane Dalton @JournoJane

US SPACE AGENCY

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