The pandemic has stopped part of the world, but has it allowed nature to rest this year, as is often reported on social networks?
The quarantine, imposed everywhere due to the coronavirus pandemic, has led to a reduction in road and air travel, a drop in production rates and other anthropogenic factors that negatively affected the environment.
In this regard, the well-known expression “nature has purified itself so much that …” has become associated with coronavirus quarantine. But did it really give nature a break?
The air is clearer, but not for long
In the spring, when the world was just beginning to get used to the new reality, photos of major capitals of the world were circulating on social networks, which “re-found the horizon line”.
Concentrations of poisonous nitrogen dioxide and other aerosol pollutants declined amid reduced car traffic, factory closures and a general decline in business and consumption.
However, the effect was short-lived. The World Air Quality Index shows that in New York, where fine particulate matter pollution fell by 59 per cent in the spring, emissions rose by 33 per cent in the summer and are returning to their previous levels every day. The same trend is being observed in other capitals of the world.
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Has global warming stopped?
An international earth System Science Data study published this month found that greenhouse gas emissions fell by 7% in 2020, the sharpest sharp drop since the end of World War II.
The Global Carbon Project reports that in Europe and the United States, this figure fell by about 12 percent.
However, experts say that in order for this to have a way to reflect the overall trend, such indicators should be maintained for the next ten years.
Otherwise, the rise in the average temperature on the planet will rise by three degrees by the end of the century, UN experts said on the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Even a 66 percent cut in air travel in 2020 doesn’t change anything, as aviation represented only three percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions.
Eurostat reports that in the first half of 2020, the EU purchased disposable masks for Euro 14 billion, which is 1.8 thousand per cent more than in 2019. According to the World Health Organization, about 100 million Masks are used by the world every month.
They are composed of polypropylene, which is produced from petroleum, is not biodegradable and is very little recyclable.
In addition to masks, the pandemic has also increased other medical waste such as gowns, gloves, hats and slippers.
One study shows that the amount of waste in households has increased by 20 per cent, and in health facilities by 10-20 times.
Animals have also been victim of COVID
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has moved into the human population from animals, China has increased the protection of 64 wild species.
Particular attention is being paid to pangolins, which are believed to have caused SARS-CoV-2, which came from bats, to overcome the barrier of human immunity.
However, experts note that a ban on breeding pangolins, which is famous for its tender meat, and its scales are highly valued in Chinese traditional medicine, may have the opposite effect – it will become more attractive prey for poachers.
In addition, 2020 ends with mink martyrdom. Last month, the Danish authorities decided to eliminate all minks (about 17 million) on farms after they found the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus mutation in these animals, which can spread among people.
The pandemic has highlighted the interdependence between the geosphere, biosphere and anthroposphere, showing the increased instability of the necessary coexistence between all species of animals, including humans.