As People Stay Home, Earth Turns Wilder And Cleaner

Coronavirus Lockdown and pollution Level: As people across the globe stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, the air has cleaned up, albeit temporarily. Smog stopped choking New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world, and India’s getting views of sights not visible in decades.

Air Pollution Falls In Big Cities
  • Nitrogen dioxide pollution in the northeastern United States is down 30 per cent.
  • Rome air pollution levels from mid-March to mid-April were down 49 per cent from a year ago.
  • In India, already daring wildlife has become bolder with hungry monkeys entering homes and opening refrigerators to look for food. When people stay home, Earth becomes cleaner and wilder.
Researchers Are Tracking Dramatic Drops

Researchers are tracking dramatic drops in traditional air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide, smog and tiny particles. These types of pollution kill up to 7 million people a year worldwide, according to Health Effects Institute president Dan Greenbaum.

The air from Boston to Washington is its cleanest since a NASA satellite started measuring nitrogen dioxide, in 2005.

Largely caused by burning of fossil fuels, this pollution is short-lived, so the air gets cleaner quickly.

Compared to the previous five years, March air pollution is down 46 per cent in Paris, 35 per cent in Bengaluru, India, 38 per cent in Sydney, 29 per cent in Los Angeles, 26 per cent in Rio de Janeiro and 9 per cent in Durban, South Africa, NASA measurements show.

Cleaner air means stronger lungs for asthmatics, especially children. Early studies also link coronavirus severity to people with bad lungs and those in more polluted areas, though it’s too early to tell which factor is stronger.

The greenhouse gases that trap heat and cause climate change stay in the atmosphere for 100 years or more, so the pandemic shutdown is unlikely to affect global warming.

  • Carbon dioxide levels are still rising, but not as fast as last year.
  • Aerosol pollution, which doesn’t stay airborne long, is also dropping.
  • But aerosols cool the planet so NASA is investigating whether their falling levels may be warming local temperatures for now.