To celebrate World Earth Day on 22nd April, we give you an insight into how the planet Earth has responded to the Corona Virus outbreak, and yes, there is some good news! It’s true that the Covid-19 outbreak has dramatically impacted the economical state of the entire world, and it will take a long time to get it back to how it was, but because of the pause of flights, factories and businesses, the Earth has seen a very quick improvement.
One of the biggest, positive changes to the Earth’s atmosphere is the air that we breathe, and the purity it now has. With the entire world, including its factories being on lock down, a dramatic change can be felt across the globe in terms of less air pollution.
London residents have claimed that views of the city are much clearer due to non-existent smog and that for the first time, they’re able to see stars from their window! According to the London Air Quality Network, average air pollution levels in London have fallen to their lowest since recordings began in 2000, so low that the monitors used to measure toxicity have alerted readers of faults with the machines due to such dramatic decreases!
According to theconversation.com the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about 3 million people die each year from ailments caused by air pollution, and that more than 80% of people living in urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that exceed safe limits. The situation is worse in low-income countries, where 98% of cities fail to meet WHO air quality standards. The main contributing factors are Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide.
The European Space Agency’s satellite has shown substantial drops in Nitrogen Dioxide across many different countries since the Corona virus outbreak began. The UK announced lock down procedures on 23rd March, only 2 weeks after this, Nitrogen Dioxide pollution had fallen by up to 60% in some cities compared to monthly averages from 2015-2019.
Most Nitrogen Dioxide comes from power plants and road transport, which can cause more problems to people who suffer from respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
Now the air is much less polluted on a global scale, countries are starting to notice a difference. India’s capital is one of the world’s most polluted cities, but its skies have turned blue and many people can see the stunning Himalaya Mountains for the first time in over 30 years.
As well as improved air quality, water pollution is also decreasing since the lock down procedures across the world. Beautifully coloured fish can be seen, and many famous rivers and oceans are looking more crystal-clear than ever.
In Italy’s Venice, meanwhile, canal water is so clear that fish can easily be seen. Italy’s residents are saying how the popular waterways are benefiting from the halt of usual boat traffic caused by masses of tourists each year.
Repairing Ozone Layer
The Ozone Layer is a region of the Earth’s stratosphere which absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, something the planet relies on to maintain the Earth’s delicate Eco system and protect life forms from dangerous levels of radiation.
Since 1970, the planet has seen the Ozone Layer develop a hole above Antarctica and therefore start causing severe weather conditions and catastrophic problems such as melting ice caps and bush fires across the South of Australia.
Since lock down, however, the Ozone Layer has seen a vast improvement. In China, many ozone-depleting chemicals such as OCDs have been used in manufacturing processes. Due to factories being shut down, however, this has given the ozone a chance to recover and start repairing itself.
A repairing Ozone layer gives better chances of limiting extreme, detrimental weather across the world and slows the process of the Arctic ice caps melting. Research experts do worry, however, how much the environment will be a priority to world leaders when the world goes back to normal, and states that there is much more we need to do to continue seeing the repair of the Ozone layer.
Carbon Dioxide emissions, which are produced mainly from transportation vehicles such as planes, lorries and cars, remain one of the biggest contributing factors to climate change and global warming. With the need of transportation being very low these last few weeks, and the closure of many borders, this has caused some huge and very positive changes across many countries.
In just 4 weeks of China’s factories and all transport being shut down, their carbon emissions fell by a dramatic 25%. This reduction has caused the world’s largest emitter to avoid some 250 million metric tonnes of carbon pollution—more than half the annual carbon emissions of the United Kingdom.
Across the European Union, it is predicted that the lock down period could cause emissions to fall by nearly 400 million metric tonnes this year, of which will have a tremendously positive effect across the levels of carbon pollution.
Return of the Nature
In the absence of humans and cars throughout countries across the world, many animals have jumped at the opportunity to explore towns and villages they’ve never had the chance to visit before.
Herds of adventurous goats have been reported from Welsh seaside towns, while over in Japan, many deer have been spotted roaming the roads in search of food.
Meanwhile in Spain, the usually thrivingly busy capital, Barcelona, has seen wild boars exploring the town and populating roads which are normally crowded with traffic.
Over in North America, the fascinating sight of Orcas have been spotted to people’s amazement. These whales have been sighted in parts of a Vancouver fjord for the first time in decades.
Then hop over to Chile’s capital, Santiago,where a wild puma was captured after being found wandering around the city’s deserted centre during a night-time curfew. The lack of tourists and residents have meant pumas are venturing out of the surrounding hills and into the usually busy towns!
And here in the UK, many shy animals such as moles, deer and rare birds are becoming more confident in exploring the now quieter forests and heaths. It is also thought that flowers are blooming more due to the councils restrictions on cutting down grass through each county.
So, this proves that the Corona virus isn’t all doom and gloom, there is something to be positive about that we can enjoy across the world! As a reflection on World Health day, why not sit down with the people you live with and discuss how each of you can do something to contribute towards the health of our planet.