Climate Change and Covid-19, What's the Relationship?


By Simran Cheema


Climate Change and Covid, they are two different ideas and topics in general. But, they do have a relationship. During the lockdown, we were once able to see the clear skies again. In India, Beijing, China. Our air felt clean once again, given a second chance. We could see the mountains, the birds flying through the air, and the beautiful colors of the sky.


Climate change, especially, has reduced the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Considering the UK, it had dropped 51% in carbon emissions in 2020. Imagine… that is less than the 1990 levels in 1990. They were half-way to their target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.


But, this change isn’t enough to do much change in the atmosphere. It would only make small differences, barely affecting the climate on Earth. Yes, with the clear skies, more sunlight would be able to reach the ground. Yet, this reduced amount of sunlight wouldn’t affect the annual temperatures or rainfall in the end.


Lockdown had severely reduced the nitrogen oxides produced, further helping form the ozone layer. Although, ozone of the surface.. Well, that is a problem. Considering that around 365,000 deaths are caused due to lung damage in children due to the ozone found. The plants aren’t able to photosynthesize as efficiently. Since ozone at the surface is considered a greenhouse gas, it further raises global temperatures in our atmosphere.


The NOx, a gas that forms the ozone at the surface, is produced from industrial sources. This NOx is known to help perpetuate the ozone and increase the ozone in the atmosphere. In lockdown, the whole industry was shut down due to COVID. This temporarily reduced the NOx in the atmosphere. This affected the ozone on the surface. But, many might have thought it would simply affect the local areas. But, instead, it had a global impact. It reduced the amount of surface level ozone by 2% But, according to NASA, this won’t be forever. Once the economy is back to normal, it will once again rise and be the same as before.


Many countries have promised to have net-zero emissions by 2050. Yet, this isn’t possible if we don’t take further emissions. By shutting down industrial sources, it wouldn’t target the root cause of the issue. Through this pandemic, we have learned further about how to face climate change in the future. We have to plan upon what sources we will be using, decide upon our infrastructure, transportation and more.. Now, it is up to us to decide our fate.


References


https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/2021/how-did-covid-19-lockdowns-affect-the-climate


https://climate.nasa.gov/news/3089/local-lockdowns-brought-fast-global-ozone-reductions-nasa-finds/


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