Importance of Natural Resources

Coronavirus and climate change: Will lockdown measures have a long-term impact? – BBC World Service

Coronavirus is affecting everything,
including one pretty big thing – the environment. Let’s have a look at the
global picture right now. Around the world, airports roads cities – they’re
closing down and their emissions are falling. In New York emissions of the
greenhouse gas carbon dioxide are down five to ten percent. In China emissions
were down about 25 percent at the start of the year
and the amount of coal used in the country’s power industries has fallen
off a cliff. And in Europe satellite images have shown over northern Italy
emissions of nitrogen dioxide fading away. That’s the gas that can cause
respiratory disease and it also causes acid rain. But here is the big question –
will these dips that we are seeing now actually have a long-term effect on the
environment and climate change? To answer that let’s look at why emissions are falling. A big thing is that governments have introduced lockdowns so we aren’t
traveling anywhere near as much as we used to in China India UK Italy Spain France – transport makes up nearly a quarter of carbon emissions. There are fewer planes in the sky and that matters
because “hour for hour flying is the fastest way to heat the climate so all
the flights that are being reduced are saving a lot of carbon.” Another key
reason that emissions have dropped comes from industry which makes up nearly a
fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Many factories and businesses have
closed their doors and their carbon emissions have fallen with them. “Quite
likely more than 10% of total oil consumption globally has been wiped out and it has
meant that many cities are measuring the best air quality that they’ve ever seen.
“That’s also had a huge impact on the economy and has meant many people are
losing their jobs. So it’s really not the way that anyone wanted to lower carbon
emissions. At the moment researchers think that once you take our recovery
from the pandemic into account. we might see a dip in around 0.3 percent in our
carbon emissions in 2020, so even though there is this dip in emissions right now
you’ve probably figured out the catch which is that when life goes back to
normal well, so will emissions. People will go
on long distance holidays and coal-fired power stations will fire up again surely
and it’s not the first time we’ve seen a temporary dip in recent history. The
global financial crisis in 2008 also caused a significant temporary drop in
emissions but then lots of countries started pumping out more carbon
emissions again as they tried to rally their economies, like in China the
Chinese government started the largest and most polluting economic stimulus
programme in history using billions of tons of steel and cement to build,
causing a spike in China’s air pollution levels and in China’s carbon dioxide
emissions. That would mean that a crisis like this can increase emissions in the
years to come. But there’s another way that the pandemic could be affecting the
climate negatively. One is cancelling big climate conferences. The UN’s Cop 26
conference scheduled for this year has been postponed and climate scientists
are worrying that they can’t physically get out and about to get the data that
they need to do their work. But there is some optimism. “This crisis
could be a big opportunity to reduce emissions in the longer term. For a lot of
people there’s no reason to go back to commuting to an office every day.” The
pandemic has made us think about how and where we get our food. The looming
threat of lockdown emptied some supermarket shelves. Might this
unfamiliar sight of empty shelves revive a ‘waste not want not’ mentality? andif it does maybe we won’t end up wasting one third of the world’s food like we
normally do. But perhaps more important than any of that is the impact that
coronavirus is having on us as a community. “One thing that we see is that
people are willing to help and willing to make big changes and even sacrifices
when it’s necessary to protect public health. That gives me a lot of hope that
we have the capacity to tackle the climate crisis.”

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