It’s been pretty clear for some time that humans have been doing more harm to this planet than any other species. With the technological advances and our fast-paced lives, transportation has become a necessity of this era but also a huge factor contributing to pollution.
If we look at the first immediate consequences of the Covid19 pandemic, we’ll see that the air is getting cleaner, and so is the planet.
Why the Quality of Air Matters
According to the Health Effects Institute (HEI), the report of State of Global Air 2019 declared that air pollution is the fifth leading cause of deaths worldwide and it is no surprise that road transport has taken the lead in being its highest contributor.
As people remain at home with reduced mobility, air quality keeps improving and finding a way back to normality. Strict global lockdowns result in reduced dependency on transport, less fuel combustion and drastic decrease in greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere.
If this situation lasts, we might experience an atmosphere as clean, or at least nearly as clean as the one that our forefathers used to live in.
People in every corner of the world continue to feel the ripples of the pandemic. Urban life has practically come to a standstill. Many roads that were once too busy to drive have now turned into empty vessels.
Work from home policies have diminished the need for public transport and transit systems, at the same time proving that there are ways for businesses to operate effectively and with reduced impact on the environment.
It may be a strong nudge which we needed to realize that our daily practices require a change.
The Sky over the Dirtiest Cities Clearing Up
Many places around the globe are showing massive improvements in terms of lessening the levels of air pollutants. Wuhan, China, the alleged source of the novel coronavirus, saw a 49% decrease in air pollution. In South Korea, Seoul, the reduction was 54%.
India’s capital New Delhi can see clear skies after many years, with a drastic 60% drop in air pollution. Other major cities around the world like Los Angeles showed reduction by 31% in the month of March while London showed 50% reductions in nitrogen dioxide (N02) during their lock-down period.
Another uplifting fact for the environmentally-conscious is that this decrease in air pollution has led to 11% rise in ozone layer levels that haven’t been seen in decades. These results come from researchers around the San Francisco Bay Area after analysis of the ozone layer. Similar improvement in the ozone seems to occur in other countries too.
According to the study done by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, people who are exposed to a particulate matter of air pollution called PM2.5, produced from the exhaust of transport and industries, are at higher risk of contracting Covid19. This means that places with high levels of air pollution are more prone to the disease than cleaner areas.
It is a major eye opener for all of us that if we want to control this global pandemic and prevent similar outbreaks in the future, we need to take stringent protective measures.
The Next Steps Towards Healthier Living
Now the question that emerges is what will happen after the pandemic is over. Will we go back to the same old practices? Will governments make efforts to keep the levels of pollution low? Can the environment still flourish with human activity?
Such issues should be addressed soon. Policy makers should find ways to implement cleaner transport solutions with minimum fuel consumption as well as look towards more eco-friendly solutions like renewable power sources.
On our part, we can opt for simple options like walking, riding bicycles or electric scooters, switching to hybrid or electric cars or carpooling. There are many options to lower our carbon footprint individually. If we combine our efforts with responsible policies on a global level, sustainable living may become a reality and our future generations may get the healthy environment that they deserve.