Socially distant but finally clean: New study shows unprecedented drop in carbon emissions during pandemic

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Scientists fully expect emissions to increase again as more states reopen

As the country slowly begins to reopen, we’re learning about the environmental impact of staying socially distant. Global carbon emissions have fallen in times of war and economic recession, but the pandemic has led to an unprecedented drop in pollution.

We found clear waters in Venetian canals with jelly fish swimming about, a clear skyline in New York, and smog-free views in New Delhi, India. As our roads emptied, we got a glimpse of life on a clean earth, free of pollution.

A new study shows daily global emissions dropped by 17 percent, plummeting by one billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions at its peak in April as flying, driving, and industry came to a screeching halt.

As coronavirus infections spiked in March and April, travel dropped nationwide with every state but Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama changing their routine by more than 60 percent.

In Missouri, data shows mobility dropped by 80 percent during the March/ April peak.

In Arkansas, mobility only dropped 40 percent.

This new study projects total emissions for 2020 will probably drop between 4 and 7 percent compared to last year; but scientists warn that’s only a drop in the bucket. Dr. Art DeGateano is a climatologist at Cornell University and tells me he is not surprised by the drop in emissions but is also fully expecting our increase to pick up where it left off, “It’s kind of like driving down the freeway at 65 and tapping your brakes, you slow down for a short second, but as soon as you take your foot off the brake, you go right back up to where you were. I’m confident, actually, that that’s what we’re going to see now .”

Dr. DeGaetano reflected on the impacts of the pandemic and says this has forced us to really think of alternatives in the fuel industry as the economy has also taken a hit the last few months, “we need to try to have our cake and eat it too.”

To read more about this study, check out this easy-to-understand article published by the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/05/19/greenhouse-emissions-coronavirus/?arc404=true

For the original, published, peer-reviewed study, click here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0797-x

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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