For anyone looking for another good thing to come out of being stuck inside without anywhere to go during this pandemic, (besides some of the obvious, such as getting to spend valuable time with family), look no further than the fact that people in Wuhan, China (where the outbreak started) heard birds singing, or the people in Italy out on their decks singing, or even the fact that a study showed global carbon emissions have gone down between January and early April.
An international study appeared in the journal Nature Climate Change that found an overall daily carbon emissions decrease of 17 percent between January and April 2020 compared with mean 2019 levels and the potential for many individual countries to see a decrease of 26 percent on average — the lowest since WWII.
Of course, the actual impact will rely on the individual countries and what they themselves do as far as how long or short it takes for them to open back up. That means that the changes seen could only be temporary, especially as restrictions are lifted and people start going back out again.
The study focused on several different areas, including daily CO2 emissions across 69 countries, 50 U.S. states, 30 Chinese provinces, six economic sectors, and three levels of confinement, using data from daily electricity use and mobility tracking services.
One of the main things the study found was that the reduction is mainly due to fewer people driving on the roads with an overall drop of 50 percent at the end of April and a drop in flying by 75 percent. The largest decline was shown to be in China.
There have been drops like this before and the study points out a few. One of those is the 2008 – 2009 recession, during which carbon emissions decreased 1.4 percent in 2009 only to go back up five percent in 2010. A rebound like that could be possible here.
"Crises do not solve the climate problem", said Rob Jackson, study co-author and professor at Stanford University's Earth Science Systems department in an article for CNN. They buy us a year or two's worth of time at most.
Another important factor is that current emissions trends are still not hitting the 7.6 percent drop the UN says is needed each year between now and 2050 to avoid a catastrophic temperature rise of 1.5 degrees.
The fact of the matter still, remains the same, it shouldn't take something as devastating as a pandemic to help us clean the air and reduce emission, even if it is only temporary. We as a nation and as a species should be working towards finding solutions no matter the circumstances before it gets any worse.