Global Lockdowns May Save More People From Air Pollution Than Coronavirus

Among the terrible news linked to the coronavirus pandemic, there is some news that might put a smile on your face- the decreased industrial activity has drastically lowered air pollution.

Photos of the clear waters in the canals of Venice, and the blue sky above Wuhan, resulting from the positive changes in the environment, have melted many hearts these days too.

Safety measures applied by governments around the world have reduced the emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gasses, and scientists maintain that by May when CO2 emissions are at the highest due to the decomposition of leaves, the levels recorded might be the lowest since the financial crisis more than ten years decade ago.

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution kills around 7 million people annually.

On the other hand, according to Forbes Magazine, “the global death toll of an uncontained pandemic remains largely a matter of conjecture.”

“The most dramatic projections that have been released—too hastily to be peer-reviewed—put the global death toll of an unchecked pandemic in the millions—total, not annual. Most credible estimates are much less. Some experts have compared it to the 1957 flu outbreak that killed just over 1 million. The toll from a contained outbreak would, of course, be much smaller.”

According to a Stanford University scientist, Marshall Burke, the two-month quarantine in China has already saved 77,000 people( 4,000 kids under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70) from death by air pollution. He explained that “even under more conservative assumptions”, the number of lives saved will be 20 times the number of coronavirus deaths there.

François Gemenne, director of The Hugo Observatory, which studies the interactions between environmental changes and human migration, explains:

“More than likely the number of lives that would be spared because of these confinement measures would be higher than the number of lives that would be lost because of the pandemic [had it not been contained].”

He explained that atmospheric pollution kills 48,000 in France every year, and over a million others in China. The World Health Organization estimates that the global toll from air pollution at 7 million per year.

Gemenne also commented:

“These are fascinating times. What surprises me most is that the measures that we are ready to take to face this coronavirus are much more severe than the measures we would be ready to take to face climate change or atmospheric pollution.

I think this is something that should question us: why are we so much more afraid of the coronavirus than we are of climate change or atmospheric pollution or other kinds of threats. What is so special about the coronavirus that we are ready to put the whole world on lockdown because of that?”