WEB DESK: Coronavirus epidemic is widely believed to be good for the environment and humans are healing the wounds of nature by sitting at home. Some people have been comforted by this idea during the global tragedy. But a research shows that the facts don’t support these expectations.
The initial impacts were pleasing as the silence of cars and planes made the chirping of birds heard. But it was all temporary. With the relaxation in lock downs, the benefits began to dissipate.
Now some experts fear that in the future there will be more traffic, more pollution and more rapid climate change. At the moment it is difficult to predict what the future will hold, but alarming symptoms are on the rise around the world.
The study was conducted by experts from the Anglia in the United Kingdom and was published by the National Geographic Society.
According to report, when lockdowns were imposed worldwide in April, the daily carbon emissions had decreased by 17% over the previous year. But new data, from last week, shows that the decline is now only five percent, although full activity has not yet resumed.
“We still have the same cars, the same roads, the same industries and the same houses,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré, who wrote the study. “So, as soon as the restrictions are lifted, we will return to where we were before.”
China was the first country to be infected with the coronavirus and was the first country to lift the lockdown. In China, the closure of industries and transportation in February and March led to a dramatic improvement in air quality, but that improvement has now disappeared.
Factories are working harder to make up for lost time, so pollution in May reached pre-epidemic levels. In some places, the situation is even worse.
The second problem is that China is allowing new coal-fired power plants. Suddenly many permits have been issued. Experts warn that if these power plants are built, there will be irreparable damage to human health and the environment in the future.
Everyone is worried about the economic losses caused by the epidemic and the fuel, plastics and automotive industries besides the airlines are facing difficulties. Many governments, especially the US administration, are providing such companies with money, regulatory easing, and other benefits. Experts believe that these facilities will help those who spread pollution out of the crisis and make more profit than in the past.
The American Petroleum Institute says oil and gas companies are not seeking special benefits but are taking advantage of opportunities aimed at helping all sectors. Experts say the Trump administration is not only providing funding, but also effectively undermining the state’s ability to block air and water pollution regulations and energy projects. It has suspended the mandatory requirement of environmental assessment and public opinion for mines, pipelines, highways and other projects.
Another troubling issue is traffic. Because it is difficult to ensure social distancing in public transport, it is likely that many passengers will not travel in them to avoid the virus. That way more cars will be seen on the roads. Traffic congestion in China has already reached pre-epidemic levels.
In Brazil, however, the severity of the crisis has distracted the government, and Amazon’s deforestation has not been stopped. Satellite data shows that 64% more land was cleared in April than in March. In the previous ten years, most trees were cut down in 2019.
After clearing the ground, greenery is also being burnt, which is creating smoke. Not only it is harming the environment, but the air pollution is making it harder for the virus victims to breathe.
The article first appeared in National Geographic on June 18,2020 and authored by Beth Gardiner.