Canal water in Venice has cleared up without boat traffic. Air pollution in China has plunged amid unprecedented lockdowns. In Thailand and Japan, mobs of monkeys and deer are roaming streets now devoid of tourists.
The coronavirus pandemic is shutting down countries across the world, causing a significant decline in air pollution in major cities as countries implement stricter quarantines and travel restrictions.
The unintended air pollution declines from the virus outbreak are just temporary, experts say.
But the pandemic’s unintended climate impact offers a glimpse into how countries and corporations are equipped to handle the slower-moving but destructive climate change crisis. So far, researchers warn that the world is ill-prepared.
For years, scientists have urged world leaders to combat planet-warming emissions, which have only continued to soar upward.
“In the midst of this rapidly moving global pandemic, it’s natural that we also think about that other massive threat facing us — global climate change — and what we might learn now to help us prepare for tomorrow,” said Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and founder of the Pacific Institute in Berkeley, California.
“The pandemic is fast, shining a spotlight on our ability or inability to respond to urgent threats. But like pandemics, climate change can be planned for in advance, if politicians pay attention to the warnings of scientists who are sounding the alarm,” Gleick said.
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