In China alone, 4 thousand children under the age of five and 73 thousand adults over 70 were saved due to the decrease in air pollution.
Despite the bad news about the Covid-19 pandemic, which causes new victims every day – more than 173 thousand confirmed cases and more than 7 thousand deaths – the spread of the new coronavirus also brought something positive: the reduction of air pollution and possible lives saved as a consequence.
According to calculations by Stanford University environmental economist Marshall Burke, in China, it is very likely that the lives saved by the recent notable reduction in air pollution will exceed Covid-19 deaths. The projection indicates that, in two months of lower emission of pollutants in the Chinese atmosphere, 4 thousand children under the age of five and 73 thousand adults over 70 were saved.
In Italy, which has the second highest number of cases and is under strict quarantine measures, images recorded by the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite in the north of the country, captured between January 1 and March 11, also revealed a huge drop in air pollution – specifically nitrogen dioxide, a gas emitted mainly by cars, trucks and industries. Check out the images in the video below:
“Although there may be slight variations in the data due to cloud cover and climate change, we are very confident that the reduction in emissions that we can see coincides with the blocking period in Italy, causing less traffic and industrial activities,” says Claus Zehner, Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager.
It is clear that the drop in air pollution in both countries is not so relevant in the face of the devastation caused by the coronavirus. However, the preliminary figures demonstrate that this global health disaster is an opportunity to assess which aspects of modern life are absolutely necessary and what positive changes may be possible if we change our habits on a global scale.