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Public health restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have resulted in a sharp dip in air pollution across China, Europe and the US, with carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels heading for a record 5% annual drop.
The waters of Venice are now clear, lions lounge on roads normally frequented by safari-goers in South Africa and bears and coyotes wander around empty accommodation in Yosemite national park in California. Some Indian people were seeing the Himalayas for the first time due to the veil of air pollution lifting
Meanwhile, nearly eight in 10 flights globally have been canceled. The oil industry, a key driver of the climate crisis and direct environmental disaster, is in turmoil.
These would perhaps be the sort of outcomes seen had stringent environmental policies been put in place in the wake of the first Earth Day in 1970, which saw 20 million Americans rally in support of anti-pollution measures.
Vincent-Henri Peuch, Director of the Copernic Atmosphere Monitoring Service told Euronews that the importance of the drop should not be overstated. ”I don’t think we can say that there is any long term significance in this decrease. However, in the short term I think these decreases are useful. The level of air pollution is affecting cardio-pulmonary health in general, so having less pollution at a time where this virus is around can only be a good thing,” he said.
There could also be another potential benefit of today’s lower air pollution; there’s a chance that Covid-19 may be transported and remain viable on particles of pollution. As yet there is no scientific consensus on this issue, but Alessandro Miani, President of the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine, certainly thinks it’s a viable theory:
“Particulate matter, when it’s at a certain density and there is a lot of smog, a lot of atmospheric pollution, can be considered a sort of highway for the acceleration of the epidemic,” Miani told Euronews via videoconference.
Patrizia Marin is journalist and chairman of Marco Polo Experience, a leading agency specialising in strategic communications, public affairs, marketing and media relations, with twenty years of experience in business internationalisation strategies, communication campaigns, media relations, mapping of the decision makers and community of interests’ relations.
Patrizia has been advisor to the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers for Communication, Publishing and Information. As regards the logistics and infrastructure sectors, she has been Head of Communications for the Venice Port Authority; Media Relations Consultant for Aeroporti di Roma; International pr advisor for Atlantia while Vice-President at FBC.
Patrizia is Contract Professor in Leadership and International Relations at the IULM University of Milan and has a degree in Law and International Political Science.