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Environmental impact
Air pollution and C virus

During the lockdown owing to the coronavirus, road traffic in the UK dropped by up to 73%. The deserted streets have resulted in corresponding large decreases in air pollution, which is likely to reduce early deaths from lung and heart conditions.

The reduction in air pollution is also likely to decrease the likelihood of catching the coronavirus if persons have pre-existing respiratory diseases.

Now that many people have learnt to work from home, it is unlikely that traffic volumes will ever increase to their former levels. Towns and cities are helping to initiate this change by decreasing road space in favour of cycle lanes and wider pavements.

Rises in sea levels
Sea levels are rising faster than previously estimated and could reach 1 metre by the year 2100 unless global emissions are reduced rapidly. Based on new knowledge of climate sensitivity and polar ice melt, scientists believe that coastal cities should prepare for an impact sooner than predicted by UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Bleaching of coral reefs
Coral reefs are important marine reservoirs of biodiversity being homes to myriads of species. However rising ocean temperatures could push the world’s tropical coral reefs over a tipping point so that they undergo bleaching each year which can kill the coral and the home for many species.

Oceans could be restored to former health
Available evidence suggests that it will be possible to restore the biodiversity of the oceans if we are able to introduce sustainable fishing, protect the oceans from acidification by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate the destruction of habitats such as sea grass meadows and mangrove swamps. But it will require pro-active policies by Governments and global cooperation amongst nations.

Weather
2020 hottest ever?

This year is likely to be the hottest ever world wide according to meteorologists as heat records have been broken from the Antarctic to Greenland since January. For example Europe recorded its warmest winter ever with an average rise in long term temperature of 1.4 C only 0.1 C below the limit temperature to avoid irreversible changes in climate.

Though yearly CO2 emissions will decrease this year due to lockdowns, the concentration of greenhouse gases will continue to rise and so will the average global temperature.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is now a window of opportunity for introducing more sustainable means of transport and energy production by switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

Rise in temperature and humidity
The vast majority of humanity has lived in regions where the average annual temperature lies between 6 C and 28 C which is ideal for human health and food production. Humanity is particularly sensitive to any temperature rise as the land warms faster than the ocean. A study by the University of Exeter suggests that there could be more change in temperature in the next 50 years than in the past 6000 years and that actions are needed now to accelerate cuts in emissions.

If addition, if periods of extreme heat are accompanied by high humidity then the chances of survival are reduced as the human body may not be able to sweat out excess heat through the skin from where it evaporates. Available evidence indicates that incidence of such events is increasing and has doubled over a 40 year time period.

All the available evidence indicates that global warming is increasing and it will be up to each to use less energy and to change energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable sources where ever possible.

All texts from articles in the Guardian newspaper



 

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