We are only 3 months into 2020 and it already feels like a year to remember? From blazing bushfires to global pandemics, it would seem that mother nature has finally had enough.
With the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, drastic action has been taken in an attempt to contain and control the spread of the virus. China (the epicentre of the pandemic) attempted to contain the outbreak by reducing all air travel and production, and as a resulting factor, benefited from a significant drop in air pollution, likely saving tens of thousands of lives.
Earth Systems Professor, Marshall Burke used data from US government sensors in four Chinese cities to measure levels of PM2.5, the tiny particulate matter considered the primary cause of death from air pollution. He averaged the drop in pollution levels and calculated the subsequent effect on mortality nationwide.
Two months of pollution reduction “likely has saved the lives of 4,000 kids under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70 in China,” he writes on G-Feed, “The lives saved due to the pollution reductions are roughly 20x the number of lives that have been directly lost to the virus,” Burke writes, using statistics current on March 8.
These NASA satellite images compare levels of NO2, a noxious gas, over Wuhan China in 2019 (above) and during coronavirus lockdown in 2020 (below). NASA
This article is by no means playing down the severity of the virus but rather highlighting the bigger issues that we are currently ignoring that could likely save tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives. What is now being called the 'COVID19 effect' is helping to highlight the impact pollution is having on the earth and its biodiversity as it could be seen that the coronavirus lockdown may save more lives by preventing pollution than by preventing infection.
-Holly, Our Bear Pack Assistant