Corona and Air Pollution - How is it going to impact the world and to what extent?
The coronavirus caused lockdown has led to a significant drop in air pollution levels in the country. A drop in pollution levels has been reported worldwide. The ozone layer has been known to be healing due to the lower levels of air pollution.
Lately, Indian cities Jalandhar and Delhi have been stealing the show with the major changes brought about by reduced levels of pollutants in the air. Delhi, one of the most populated cities in the country, had blue skies and a cleaner Yamuna within a week of the lockdown.
Air Quality on 2nd May 2019 at Ashok Vihar, Delhi
Air Quality on 2nd May 2020 at Ashok Vihar, Delhi
Air Quality on 2nd May 2020 at Delhi
On the other hand, people in Jalandhar witnessed the sight of the Dhauladhar mountain peak, a range in the lesser Himalayas, which was visible from the city around 20 years ago.
View of Dhauladhar Mountain Peak from Jalandhar
In this article, we are going to have a look at how Coronavirus has impacted the air pollution level around the world, how we benefit from it and to what extent we can enjoy these benefits.
According to a recent report, air pollution levels in the country have exceeded to a point where it is harmful to breathe without a pollution mask or air purifier. Following the recent decision of lockdown due to the widespread of COVID-19, people have been staying at home, giving up travelling through cars, bikes, airplanes, or any other vehicles, as well as the factories and industries were shut down.
The World Health Organization announced the role of pm 2.5- a fine pollutant present in polluted air, in about hundred thousand of deaths in India. With a halt in the use of the transport, production in factories and construction, the levels of PM 2.5 have started to drop. Studies have shown that people exposed to high levels of pollution are more vulnerable to the Corona virus than others. Diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory illnesses are all linked to air pollution and people suffering from these illnesses are more susceptible to contracting the virus.
There have been significant changes in the environment for other countries too, including China, Italy and South Africa. Animals have been taking advantage of the lockdown situations and roaming around cities, exploring the new environments. While these little aspects of positivity spread across during the pandemic may make us feel better about the situation, these instances are proof of how brutally we have been treating nature all these years.
Experts have been approving of these changes or rather significant drops in the air pollution levels, but they have also been warning us about these changes being short lived. Once the countries get back to their normal lifestyles, the pollution levels will go up like they were before.
While the lockdown has played a major role in the drop of air pollution levels, it might not be solely responsible for the change. Several parts of the country have been experiencing heavy rains that cause the pollution levels to drop.
According to Marshal Burke, a Stanford University environmental resource economist, the level drop in pollutants has saved more lives than the number of lives lost in the pandemic. According to him, the two months of pollution reduction has probably saved the lives of 4,000 children under 5, and 73,000 adults over 70 in China. This was significantly more than the global death toll from the virus itself a month ago.
Is a complete lockdown the only solution to curb pollution?
The lockdown has served as a relief for the people of the country with fresh air to breathe but it has been predicted that the conditions are going to worsen after the lockdown ends. Industries are going to try and catch up by manufacturing their goods at a faster rate than before. This would have a heavy impact on the weather conditions.
The lockdown is not the only solution that can help us with the situation now. The countries do not need to resort to putting a halt on the economic services to control the pollution levels. According to a study conducted by Buying Yu and her team from the Beijing Institute of Technology, if the nations can control their Greenhouse gas emissions, the global economic profits would range from $127 trillion and $616 trillion by the end of the century.
One of the most effective solutions for the countries would be to enforce emission standards for polluters for the industries. There is a dire need for the countries to take the necessary measures and to take up more sustainable options instead of depending largely on fossil fuel incentives for industries.
COVID-19 has given the world another chance at living and making better use of the natural resources we have been using relentlessly. It is important that the world leaders use this opportunity to start fresh and dedicate a significant portion of the economic funds into finding better sources of renewable energy and putting it into use.
It is also the responsibility of every human being to play their part and work towards creating a better environment for themselves. Instead of putting the blame for the situation on other countries, it is time we make sure we play our part in helping the world sustain and blissfully improve with the right measures. After all, it is not just the industries and transport system that has contributed to the high levels of pollution. It is equally important that we pay attention to waste management and other forms of pollution that we can avoid at our level, as responsible citizens of the country and the world.