Decline in boat traffic around Venice during lockdownWith many countries around the world in lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the sudden drop in air and car traffic and slowdown in economic activity has had a significant impact on the environment. Reductions in air pollution brought about by the coronavirus were first visible from space. Then, as the lockdown went on, many city-dwellers were able to experience the fresher air first hand. Inhabitants of northern India were able to see the Himalayas for the first time. The water in the canals of Venice became clear, the result of fewer tourist motorboats churning up mud on the canal beds. As roads emptied and factories closed, levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide dropped within days of lockdown. First China, then western Europe and USA, saw these fall by as much as 40%, greatly improving air quality and reducing the risks of asthma and lung disease.
Empty streets of Vadodara, India, during lockdown
A quieter world
Air and road traffic have fallen dramatically—around 40% in the USA, for example. Seismologists (whose instruments normally detect earthquakes across the globe) report lower levels of vibration in the ground than before the pandemic, as a result of less "noisy" activity such as mining, construction, heavy industry, rumbling traffic and jets taking off and landing.
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