Coronavirus and climate change

Rachel Power

The coronavirus outbreak is showing benefits for climate change, but is coming at too high a price, according to a climate change activist.

Following recent images published by NASA showing the huge decrease in nitrogen and carbon being released into the atmosphere, experts believe that the reduction in industry as a result of the coronavirus outbreak is beneficial for climate change.

Mary Fleming, the engagement manager for STAND.ie stated that while the outbreak is showing positive signs for climate change, it is at “far too high a price.”

It’s older generations and poorer people who are most affected by coronavirus, and they absolutely should not be sacrificed in the name of climate action,” she said.

NASA published images of satellites over the region of China, which shows a large decrease in the levels of nitrogen and carbon released into the atmosphere within the last week of January and first few weeks in February.

While there are a number of reasons behind this reduction, the closure of factories and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak are contributing hugely.

Images of the area in 2019 were released to compare last year’s levels with this year and from this, it is clear to see the longer lasting effect that the quarantines put in place during the outbreak may have had on industrial pollution.

A climate change expert stated that “the reduction in air travel, industrial output, an increase in people working from home are all reducing emissions.”

“While it is a terrible thing from the human health perspective, as far as the planet is concerned, it’s great,” he said.

He concluded that the planet “is probably very happy about this.”

During the last weeks in January and first number of weeks in February, industry and business close for a week to celebrate the Lunar New Year. This contributes to an annual decrease in emissions released into the atmosphere, but typically in the number of weeks after the celebration, emission levels increase once again and quite rapidly too.

However, this year it has been different. The satellite images from NASA show that in the weeks following the Lunar New Year celebrations, emission levels remained low in comparison to the year previous.

Experts believe that this is because of the quarantines put in place by the Chinese government and healthcare system to reduce the spread of the virus.

Already, countries across the world are taking extra measures to prevent the spread of the virus, such as placing quarantines and reducing business hours. Italy has put a number of main areas on lockdown, meaning business is on hold for those in the regions affected.

As we are all aware of the risk that the coronavirus poses to us all, we are taking more precautions such as refraining from travel which is reducing the daily emissions being released into the atmosphere.

While these effects are already noticeable, we can only wait to see what other measures, such as nation-wide quarantines that will put a pause on industry and business production, further reducing emissions and benefitting the planet.

Rachel Power

Image Credit: Piqsels