With less people commuting, less factories running, and less industries functioning, carbon dioxide rates have gone down. In New York, carbon dioxide has dropped by 5-10%. In China, it dropped by 25%. In Italy, satellite images have shown nitrogen dioxide fading away. However, when looking at the big picture, it is important to look long term. How long will these changes last? Will they create a big impact on the global environment?
To answer these questions, it’s critical to analyze what is causing these drops. A major factor is lockdowns. Many of the major countries that contribute significant amounts to global pollution have introduced lockdowns, causing factories to shut down and commuting to halt. In fact, commuting and all transportation make up 25% of all carbon emissions. Bringing transport to a stop was bound to have a great impact. Specifically, planes. According to Kimberly Nicholas, Associate Professor at Lund University, “Hour for hour flying is the fastest way to heat the climate.” As for industries and factories, nearly 20% of all global emissions comes from many factories and businesses.
Now, thinking long term, it is certain that when life goes back to normal, lockdowns will be gone, commuting will start up again, and factories will power up again. In the end, experts expect a dip of around 0.3% in all carbon emissions. So in reality, this pandemic, while it may create immediate drops in global warming, the long term effect does not have as positive of an outlook. To make matters worse, due to the loss of productivity during the coronavirus, countries will power up again and will function again more than ever before to make up for this loss. In other words, the resurgence of pollution may result in even worse measures than before the coronavirus hit.