COVID-19 and the impact it has on climate change
9 April 2020
9 April 2020
COVID-19, and the impact it has on climate change
COVID-19 reach has been far reaching and has humbled even the most powerful countries in the world. Global self-isolation has proved to reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere has not really slowed climate change but has put a temporary hold on adding to it. Climate change is the process in which greenhouse gases are trapped in our atmosphere and raise the average temperature of our planet. The overall affect COVID-19 has had on climate change In the United States (US) and many other countries, has led to transportation and travel around the world grind to a halt. This lack of emission will more than likely not be sustainable in a post COVID-19 society, but it is not possible to make precise predictions on how COVID-19 will impact climate change over a prolonged period.
The overall active emission of nitrogen dioxide and other greenhouse gases has dropped significantly enough where it is noticeable from NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) weather satellites. Fei Liu is an air quality researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Liu had stated that drops in nitrogen pollution around China's holiday celebrations are common. Due to recent events these significant and sustained drops in nitrogen levels seem most related to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Active emission of nitrogen dioxide most come from the following categories, motor vehicles, power plants, and manufacturing facilities.
The recent effects of global social isolation have momentarily reduced the active emission of carbon gasses into the atmosphere. This type of social behavior might prove to be beneficial for the environment and the fight against climate change. According to Kimberly Nicholes a sustainability researcher at Lund University in Sweden, People who were given alternatives to transportation over a prolonged period developed and continued this habit even when they were given their vehicles back. Cars on average account for 23% of the world's carbon pollution, in countries where only essential travel is enforced these numbers are down. International travel has largely been restricted which accounts for about 72% of the worlds carbon emissions, depending on how long COVID-19 influences these restrictions this source of perpetual carbon emission will also be significantly less in 2020.
China is the first country where we can use their data to make and model predictions, considering their efforts on detecting, testing, and curbing the effects of COVID-19. Chinas overall carbon emissions fell around 25% during their first month after they took dramatic measures to quarantine their citizens. Since China is the first to experience COVID-19 through its entirety they have been working on restarting their economy. China plays an interesting roll, considering their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is one of the highest in the world.
Aside from China, Europe and the US, the next most polluting countries have been slowly experiencing loss in pollution due to their governments ordering their citizens to shelter in place. Closing of non-essential businesses has thrown them into hibernation until the health risk is attended to, while also decreasing the amount of carbon being emitted from both travel and manufacturing emissions. While it is uncertain when the world's top economies will reopen, it will more than likely depend on how countries suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic will react to it. Glen Petters is a research director in Oslo Norway, he suggests that the economic affect will last a few years at least. While the world is busy rebuilding their economy's, this will come with an eventual rise in carbon emissions.
While COVID-19 is a health issue the underlying effects on virtually everything in our daily lives are very apparent. From the appending economic recession, to the decrease in carbon emissions COVID-19 has brought our world to a halt. There is allot of hope left, markets that are involved in sustainable energy may play a larger part in stimulating our economy than ever before. The renewable energy industry is very successful at creating jobs and requiring skilled employees to meet regulations and requirements. Government officials have more of a reason to rely on the renewable energy sector due to its ability to create decentralized energy markets and help stabilize energy demands for which ever industry might require it in these pressing times. While renewable energy might help stimulate some portions of our economy it will ultimately not be able to carry the entire economic burden but help in useful and ad hoc ways.
In addition to sustainable energy, COVID-19 has proven that our prior architecture has not fared well under the immense global pressure. While the recent health crisis may not have been the most foreseen circumstance, it can teach us a valuable lesson in overall design of our socio-economic systems. The novel coronavirus has proven that you cannot truly balance the scale of climate change overnight. While economies were healthy and increasing in capitol the climate had been suffering, while the inverse is true it is not optimal for our daily lives. The state of our climate is seemingly trivial, and the personal effects are not as apparent our climate and environment are largely taken for granted.
Ultimately carbon emissions from around the world will remain down as long COVID-19 presents a health concern. While the sustainable energy market may prove to help aid the economy among the uncertainty it is not going to solve the issue entirely. Social isolation has proven to be an effective method reversing the effects of climate change it is dependent on the novel coronavirus and is not a sustainable way of mitigating the overall emission of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
Earthobservatory.nasa.gov. 2020. Airborne Nitrogen Dioxide Plummets Over China. [online]
Henriques, Martha. "Will Covid-19 Have a Lasting Impact on the Environment?" BBC Future
"Staying on Course: Renewable Energy in the Time of COVID-19." IRENA â International Renewable Energy Agency,