The global health crisis opens a new paradigm regarding climate change

Blog post in collaboration with Ekomodo

 

Not everything with the coronavirus is going to be bad news: despite its disastrous consequences for people's health and the economy, it seems that the coronavirus epidemic is having positive impacts on the environment.

 

 

In late February, a series of satellites detected a significant decrease in air pollutants from the country. By comparing the images, you can see how the nitrogen dioxide concentration plummeted in February from January levels, before the blockade of the cities.

Although it is common for levels of this gas to decrease at this time due to the factories' stoppage for the Lunar New Year, they usually tend to pick up right after. And that has not happened this year.

 

 

From China to Venice, changes have been swift. We are talking about a change in the impact not only of CO2 but also on ecosystems in general.

 

 

The impacts that have been observed in Spain are shocking. Reuters images showed a virtually clean atmosphere over the province, and this is associated with the closure of businesses and factories and travel restrictions imposed to face the epidemic.

These factors, which have been expanding throughout the country, have translated into a considerable decrease in the consumption of fossil fuels. Only in the last week traffic pollution it has been reduced 68% in Madrid and 65% in Barcelona compared to 2019.

 

 

ARE CORONAVIRUS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS REALLY POSITIVE?

Experts have mixed opinions about it:

  • Unfavorable posture: On the one hand, some claim that measures to stimulate the economy after this crisis could make fossil fuel consumption rebound (and therefore emissions) above historical averages, as has occurred in previous crises. Because they are not permanent, they believe these reductions will have little effect on our total emissions.

 

  • Favorable posture: On the other, there are opinions like that of the professor at the University of Edinburgh, Dominic Moran: "20% of the world economy is slowly closing, one in five global flights is being canceled. Things are never going to be the same again" Furthermore, it highlights that if consumer demand falls (due to unpaid wages during the crisis), industrial production and the use of fossil fuels may not recover, even if there is capacity to do so.

 

In the face of a social alarm of this magnitude, there are those who venture to make comparisons:

→ COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 3.5 million people.

→ Air pollution is responsible for 4.5 million deaths a year.

Although the changes in emissions are apparently positive, only those changes brought voluntarily and with an effort from society, as this crisis is demonstrating, they are able to make an improvement is sustainable over time.

 

Hopefully we understand the urgency of the climate crisis in time ...

 

And you, what do you think about it? Is this coronavirus alarm justified, or are there other issues that should concern us more? Tell us your opinion in the comments!

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