COMMENT: 2020 is a vastly different year in Wuhan.
I AM BUNKERED in my study, my wife in her sewing room — being retired we are luckily not too impacted, but outside, business and leisure alike have come to a halt. Our children out of work, their children are out of school. The world seems to be closing down as the virus’ spread is brought under control. It is sadly bringing suffering, hardship and deaths. Yet with all this, some of my hopes for the future are happening today!
ABOVE: Pollutant drops in Wuhan — and does not rebound
Unlike 2019, NO2 levels in 2020 did not rise after the Chinese New Year.
Image: NASA Earth Observatory, SBS & AGL.
Background: Clay Banks, Unsplash.
Electricity demand has reduced, transport’s fossil-fuel thirst has gone, emissions have fallen, the air is clearing, and even the water has improved.
Of course the COVID-19 pandemic is not something anyone would wish for as a solution (though some suggest it might be Mother Nature’s plan) but like the GFC it seems to have been far more successful at reducing global emissions than even all the IPCC endeavours.
Bottom graph shows annual global emissions are still growing exponentially 30 years after the IPCC brought it to the worlds attention. Graph c/o Prof. Will Stefan ANU, source: W. Knorr, 2019. [Click on image to view larger.]
It’s good that most governments are taking the science seriously on the pandemic. Perhaps it’s helpful that each country’s response directly affect their own, quickly-realised outcomes, and with luck it should all be over in a year or two. Alas climate change is not afforded any of these luxuries yet I fear it will be more deadly than COVID-19 by far.
It’s good to see that our government can respond sensibly to an urgent global crisis. We only need to make them see that the right hand graph is even more important to address, needing not just to be flattened, but to be sent a long way south!
There are some other positives too. Maybe it will help people to see how seemingly simple issues can have major disruptions for society. Maybe our politicians will learn to trust science and consider more reasonably the need to turn around exponential growth..
And for CCL — well who would have thought — our conference last week was knocked on the head by COVID but ended up bigger in attendance and way down on travel and time for us all. It’s great to see this same approach in so many organisations too. People have stopped wasting their time and money travelling when they can work from home and meet on-line. Maybe this reduced carbon lifestyle is something that can stay with us long after the virus crisis has passed.
In the meantime, I sincerely hope COVID-19 and the isolation regimes have not impacted you or your family too badly, and that things will improve soon.
— Stay safe, Tom