Whilst the world crumbles under the weight of Covid-19, it can be hard to remain positive and look to the future. However, with the enforced downing of tools across the globe, scientists have noticed an incredible impact on the environment.
Businesses are shut, cars are off the road and flights have been grounded in the largest downturn of economic activity in recent memory, and the effects on air pollution have been staggering.
Could this tragedy offer an example of what could be achieved by humanity if we join together to save the planet in the same way we have united to fend off this virus?
While we, at Brite Technical Services, would not like to downplay the impact that this virus has had on so many people, no less those who have lost their lives, we would like to highlight some positives in all of this negativity.
Early predictions by leading climate scientists suggest that world pollution levels will fall in 2020 by the largest amount in 70 years. The Global Carbon Project, which produces regular annual emissions estimates, said carbon dioxide output could fall by more than 5 per cent year-on-year – far outstripping the reduction during the 2008 financial crisis.
In China, during the country’s strict lockdown in Wuhan and beyond, major cities experienced a 25% drop in energy use. Taken over a two week period, this is likely to lead to an overall fall of about 1% in China’s carbon emissions this year.
Closer to home, London air pollution has fallen more in March 2020 than it has in the last 5 years, throughout which there have been numerous government measures to achieve the same goal.
In Glasgow, the host city of the now-postponed COP26 climate change summit, particulate matter in the air is around half of pre-virus levels.
As well as air pollution, we are also seeing a massive impact on nature. In Venice, clarity has returned to the water and residents are reporting sightings of fish and seabirds around the lagoon. This is not down to the reduced pollution but rather the lack of motor boats churning up muddy canal beds. For a city used to 20 million visitors swarming from cruise-ships every year, this brief interlude may just be enough for residents, including wildlife, to take back their home.
With humans off the streets, animals are now flooding back into cities. Wild boar have been spotted on Barcelona’s famous Las Ramblas and a herd of goats were seen marauding through the streets of Llandudno, Wales. British naturalists have reported increases sightings of rare birds and small mammals such as moles. As one journalist so eloquently put it, ‘when we move out, nature can move in’.
The empty streets of Venice and Rome are stark reminders of the devastating impact the virus has had on Italy. They are also stark reminders of the beauty that can be found in these cities when the masses are gone. Indeed, whether travelling by cruise-ship or plane, the global tourism industry is at a stand-still. While many people rely on these industries for their livelihoods, we believe changes in the way we travel can only be a good thing. Worldwide flights still scheduled to depart in April 2020 are around 7% of the same period in 2019.
With driving and aviation making up a combined 84% of global emissions, the potential positive environmental effect of even a temporary downturn could be staggering.
However, while all of this may seem like a potential opportunity for nature to take back control, one can only expect that post-pandemic emissions will return to normal, if not even higher than before. Samples taken from soil have suggested that previous historical epidemics have had a subtle impact on carbon dioxide levels but that surges in activity afterwards have drastically undermined the long term effects.
It seems likely that the world will come out of this period with a vehement desire to return to industry and make up for lost time. That said, we at Brite Technical Services, believe that some lessons may, just, have been learnt.
This period has served as the stage for a global experiment on the impact humans have on the world in which we live. If we still lacked scientific evidence of the need for change and the potential for reversing the climate crisis, this has delivered evidence in barrel loads.
We can no longer deny the cause and effect of human activity on air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and nature. The same huge impacts could have been achieved by replacing the cars on the road with electric vehicles. We could see similar air pollution reduction by decreasing our reliance on energy from fossil fuels. We could allow nature to thrive alongside our normal lives just by being smarter about the way we interact and travel.
We encourage all of you to stay at home, support our NHS and save lives. We also encourage all of you to come out of this experience with a new drive to create a cleaner environment and to save our planet.
Whether you are a business, family or an individual looking to make these changes, we can help you along the way.
Register now for your video call Electric Vehicle Charging Point installation survey at www.evchargepoints.com
Author – Iain McComish of evchargepoints.com
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