Folks are inconvenienced by Shelter in Place.
But there is no denying one outstanding benefit. Global warming and pollution have gone on a completely different trajectory in the past two months.
In the ideal world life would return to pre Pandemic times without the devastating effects of pollution
Marvelous Picture above: Oakland Bay Bridge looking into San Francisco 4.23.2020
Fewer cars. Less congested cities. Decreased number of people in office buildings. Diminished air travel.
Dream on. Sounds nice, though.
San Francisco Chronicle 5.19.2020
The disruption caused by the coronavirus has been so profound that it’s altered the trajectory of global warming.
Not since World War II — and perhaps never before — have the emissions of heat-trapping gases dropped as much around the planet as they have during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The latest and most detailed study yet on the pandemic’s impact on climate pollution, published Tuesday and authored by the research group Global Carbon Project chaired by Stanford University’s Rob Jackson, finds that the Earth will see up to a 7% decrease in carbon dioxide this year. The dip is five times the decline in emissions in 2009, when the recession choked the world’s economy, and double what it was in 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union.
While a variety of activity explains the declines, fewer people driving was the largest contributor worldwide. Less industrial pollution was also a big contributor.
“Cities from Seattle to Milan are keeping roads closed to cars and letting them stay open to bikes and pedestrians even after the shelter-in-place,” Jackson said. “And maybe COVID-19 and stimulus funding will jump-start electric cars.”
The paper’s findings mirror other reports that have similarly found sharp drops in greenhouse gases recently. The emerging research also is in agreement that the lull will likely be short-lived and, at best, buy time before the most devastating effects of climate change take hold. The lockdown that has halted factories, energy plants and automobiles during the pandemic is already lifting, and without deliberate action, carbon-intense activities are bound to resume.
“That’s the danger here,” said Jackson, a professor of earth system science and senior fellow at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “We’ve decreased emissions for the wrong reasons. Will they jump back up starting this fall, or could the virus allow us to rethink transportation and other parts of the economy?”
The answer to the question, say Jackson and others, may not be so straightforward. Greenhouse gases could rebound in some areas, and there could be lasting decreases in others.
Measuring heat-trapping gas emissions, for which carbon dioxide is a proxy, is not easy to do, especially in real time. The researchers at the Global Carbon Project analyzed daily economic activity in 69 countries from January through April and modeled the carbon pollution that likely resulted, then compared it to last year. The countries included have historically produced almost all of the world’s carbon dioxide.
The dates of peak reductions varied in different parts of the globe because each locked down at a different time. The biggest cumulative drop in carbon dioxide was on April 7 and measured about 17%, according to the study.
Based on the observed drops in emissions, the researchers estimate that going forward, carbon dioxide will fall between 4% and 7% for the year worldwide, depending on how quickly countries end their lockdowns.
Los Angeles, California 4.23.2020
Jackson said the amount of the decline can be viewed as both considerable, given that it’s the largest ever seen, and humbling because it’s the minimum needed annually to put the planet on track to meet the Paris climate agreement — enough of a drop to prevent the global temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
“We would need to do this every year,” he said.
The new paper was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.