Over the past month, we’ve received dozens of emails from suppliers and partners sharing the crippling impact that coronavirus has had on businesses. The economic, health and social impacts are sweeping news channels, and friends/ family conversations.

Now considering a perspective on behalf of our planet. The reduction in human, economic and fossil-fuel consumption activity during this period of lockdown… the inconvenient truth – things start to look positive. We’ll consider effects from the 2 most impacted countries China & Italy, who have taken drastic measures of human isolation and heavy lockdowns to control the coronavirus.

 

CNN in Hong Kong reports

  • The average number of “good quality air days” increased 21.5% in February (compared with same period last year) according to China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment. Blue skies returned.
  • ESA mission manager Claus Zehner estimates NO2 dropped about 40 percent during the lockdown.
  • From February 3 to March 1, CO2 emissions were down by at least 25% because of the measures to contain the coronavirus, according to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), an air pollution research organization.
  • As the world’s biggest polluter, China contributes 30% of the world’s CO2 emissions annually, so the impact of this kind of drop is huge, even over a short period. CREA estimates it is equivalent to 200 million tons of carbon dioxide — more than half the entire annual emissions output of the UK.

 

 

china map

 Pollutant Drops

 

Italy, now in week 4 of lockdown, has seen animals taking over the cities and reclaiming space previously occupied by humans. 

  • People have witnessed something that hasn’t been seen in years: Dolphins and fish in the canals of Venice with now stark, clear waters.
  • Due to a dramatic decrease in pollution caused by human quarantine, the water in the Venice canals is currently clean for the first time in 60 years.
  • The popular tourist destination has also seen a drop-in air pollution. Satellite imagery by the European Space Agency shows a clear drop in nitrogen dioxide from early January, particularly in the north where restrictions were imposed in March.
  • More dolphins were spotted swimming by the port of Cagliari, which is the capital city of the Italian island of Sardinia.

 

 

“Revenge pollution”

The concern is that once the coronavirus threat has passed, China (among other countries) will be solely focused on restarting its economy, which was already hurting in the wake of the US-China trade war. That could come at the expense of the environment.

 

In conclusion

Whilst the coronavirus has devastated communities and is a serious health crisis not to be taken lightly, this article is merely looking at the silver lining. This is the only global experiment since the start of the industrial revolution where we see Earth “turn off’ for a period of time and allow rest and recovery. Reduced air pollution, animal integration, renewable energy and a truly sustainable future is possible if we make the right choices moving forward.

Every situation in life can be a lesson to learn from. If we are open to receiving the lessons, and not forget the progress in sustainability we have made thus far, we will continue to learn and grow building a more sustainable future for ourselves, our planet and future generations.

 

References: 

  • CNN – https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/16/asia/china-pollution-coronavirus-hnk-intl/index.html
  • Guardian News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv0DLTVfwIc