It has been made quite clear for some time that humans have done more damage to this planet than any other species. With technological advancements and our fast-paced lives, transportation has become a necessity of this Age, but also a huge contributor to air pollution.
If we look at the first immediate consequences of the Covid19 pandemic, we will see that the air is becoming cleaner, and so is the planet.
Why is air quality important?
According to the Health Effects Institute (HEI), the 2019 State of Global Air report stated that air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death worldwide and it is no wonder that trucking has taken the lead as its biggest taxpayer.
As people stay home, air quality continues to improve and find a way back to normal. Tight global quarantines result in less dependence on transportation, less fuel use, and a drastic decrease in greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
If this situation persists, we could experience an atmosphere as clean, or at least almost as clean, as the one our ancestors used to live.
People in all corners of the world continue to feel the repercussions of the pandemic. Urban life has practically stalled. Many roads that were once too busy to drive have now become empty spaces.
Work-from-home policies have decreased the need for public transportation and transit systems, while demonstrating that there are ways for businesses to operate effectively and with a reduced impact on the environment.
It can be a strong push that we need to realize that our daily practices require change.
The sky over the most polluted cities clears
Many places in the world are showing massive improvements in terms of reducing levels of air pollutants. Wuhan, China, the purported source of the coronavirus, saw a 49% decrease in air pollution. In South Korea, Seoul, the reduction was 54%.
New Delhi, the capital of India, can see clear skies after many years, with a drastic 60% drop in air pollution. Other major cities in the world, such as Los Angeles, showed a 31% reduction in March, while London showed 50% reductions in nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Another encouraging fact for those concerned about the environment is that this decrease in air pollution has caused an 11% increase in ozone layer levels that had not been seen in decades. These results come from researchers from the San Francisco Bay Area after analyzing the ozone layer. It appears that there is also a similar improvement in ozone in other countries.
According to the study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, people who are exposed to a particulate matter in air pollution called PM2.5, produced by exhaust gases from transportation and industries, have a higher risk of contracting Covid19. This means that places with high levels of air pollution are more prone to disease than cleaner areas.
It is a great revelation to all of us that if we want to control this global pandemic and prevent similar outbreaks in the future, we must take strict protective measures.
The next steps towards a healthier life
Now the question that arises is what will happen after the pandemic ends. Will we go back to the same old ways? Will governments make efforts to keep pollution levels low? Can the environment still thrive with human activity?
These issues should be addressed soon. Policy makers should find ways to implement cleaner transport solutions with minimal fuel consumption, as well as seek greener solutions such as renewable energy sources.