Is the Environment Getting Better Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak?

Claims that the Coronavirus outbreak has caused rivers to clear in Venice and pollution levels to reduce in China and Italy have been circulating online.

Just how valid are these claims?

Background

As of March 19, 2020, there are 221,268 Coronavirus cases with 8,987 deaths and 85,782 recovering patients. Out of the world’s 195 countries, 164 countries have confirmed cases.

Many countries have declared states of emergencies and closed down their borders, forcing the public to stay their homes. Drastic measures have been taken as airports have been shut down and travel restrictions by air, sea and land have been imposed by many authorities.

Public events have also been cancelled as group gatherings (more than 10 people) continue being discouraged in many states.

Verification

It is true that China’s pollution levels have been reduced as confirmed by satellite images released by NASA and the European Space Agency have proven there has been a dramatic reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions.

According to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), from February 3rd to March 1st, CO2 emissions were down in China by 25% because of the measures to contain the virus. Automobiles have not been driven, power plants and industrial facilities have been closed down. It is worth noting that China is the world’s biggest polluter as it contributes 30% of CO2 emissions annually.

However, regarding clear rivers in Venice, the claims are somewhat true. It is true that the water appears to be clearer, but nevertheless water quality has not been improved.

“The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom… the air, however, is less polluted since there are less vaporetti (canal boats) and boat traffic than usual because of the restricted movement of residents” (Venice mayor office). 

Verdict

Claims that the Coronavirus outbreak has caused the environment to get better are true to a certain extent as air pollution levels have been reduced temporarily due to countries restrictions.

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Mohamed Eltayeb

"I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against." ~ Malcolm X Passionate about humanitarian work, sports enthusiast, immersed in civil politics.