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Heed Mother Nature

“Both China and Northern Italy… have also recorded significant falls in nitrogen dioxide, which is related to reduced car journeys and industrial activity.

Chito Lozada

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Among the many theories popping up in an unprecedented sequestered world as a result of the virus invasion, the most fascinating was that the situation humanity is now in was dealt by nature.

For years, nations have debated and fought over measures to free the world of an impending disaster as a result of air pollution that had progressively raised global temperatures resulting in weather catastrophes, such as typhoon “Yolanda” that swept away an estimated 10,000 lives in a matter of a few hours.

Environment experts now say that air pollutants and warming gases over some cities and regions have dropped significantly as the coronavirus impacts on commerce and travel.

Researchers in New York bared early results showing carbon monoxide mainly from cars had been reduced by nearly 50 percent compared with last year.

The study was done when most developed countries had yet to impose restrictions on travel.

Emissions of the planet-heating gas carbon dioxide (CO2) have also fallen sharply. The problem, according to experts, is that pollution levels could rise rapidly after the pandemic as nations try to cover lost ground.

Scientists said that by May, when CO2 emissions are at their peak due to the decomposition of leaves, the levels recorded might be the lowest since the financial crisis over a decade ago.

Traffic levels in the Big Apple were estimated to be down 35 percent compared with a year ago. Emissions of carbon monoxide, mainly due to cars and trucks, have fallen by around 50 percent for a couple of days, according to researchers at Columbia University.

There was a five to 10 percent drop in CO2 over New York and a solid drop in methane as well.

“New York has had exceptionally high carbon monoxide numbers for the last year and a half,” said Columbia University Prof. Róisín Commane, who carried out the New York air monitoring work.
“And this is the cleanest I have ever seen it. It’s is less than half of what we normally see in March.”

Those brave souls who go out in the morning in Manila bare the same experience of breathing in an unusually clean air and at night, a brighter sky with stars unseen for some time.

An analysis carried out for the climate website Carbon Brief suggested there had been a 25 percent drop in energy use and emissions in China over a two-week period. This is likely to lead to an overall fall of about one percent in China’s carbon emissions this year, according experts.

Both China and Northern Italy, which are the regions hardest hit by the virus, have also recorded significant falls in nitrogen dioxide, which is related to reduced car journeys and industrial activity. The gas is both a serious air pollutant and a powerful warming chemical.

Experts said with aviation grinding to a halt and millions of people working from home, a range of emissions across many countries are also in the downtrend.

“If the pandemic lasts another three of four months, certainly we could see some reduction,” according to an expert.

Such length of isolation as a result of the pandemic would prove disastrous to the human species.

A possible takeaway from the global crisis is that the price of the failure of humanity to come together to address problems facing its existence may have to be Mother Nature providing the harsh but needed solution.

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