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The pandemic left the air healthier in 20203 min read

December 24, 2020 3 min read


The pandemic left the air healthier in 20203 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In an ironical twist to Corona’s tale, NASA reported that the pandemic has left the air we breathe healthier and cleaner than it would have been without its spread. Strange, but true—

NASA reported a 20% decline in nitrogen dioxide levels all over the world due to COVID-19 lockdown!

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a highly reactive gas that is emitted on the burning of fossil fuels. And we already know how harmful the burning of fossil fuels is for the environment! Combustion of fossil fuels primarily happens in industrial activity and transportation. The lockdown put a standstill to both these sources of NO2 thus dropping its concentration in the air.

How did NASA figure this out?

Everyone new that air quality would get better with the lockdown but until recently nobody could give a number to this improvement.
This is where NASA stepped in.

Sourced from EarthSky

Scientists at NASA generated a computer model that simulated a 2020 world without the pandemic and compared it to the COVID-infested 2020 that we are living in. The pollution levels of both, the simulated world and the real world, were compared, and basic subtraction between them led to a definitive number.

Data was extracted from 46 countries with a total of 5,756 observation sites on the ground. Atmospheric compositions were recorded on an hourly basis in real-time. Out of the 61 cities studied across the 46 countries, 50 cities showed nitrogen dioxide reductions between 20 and 50%. Watch this video to know more:

The model of a 2020 world without COVID-19 accounted for the results of the environmental reforms that countries from all over the world had undertaken before the onslaught of the virus (remember Owliver’s coverage of countries and carbon neutrality?). The positive difference between the projected numbers and the real numbers could only mean one thing— air pollution had receded beyond expected limits owing to changes in human activity during the lockdown.

Owliver’s Play:

Be like a NASA scientist

Revisit your Lockdown Diary and think about what you did when the lockdown started?
Trace your day and see how much energy you consumed
through the day.
Draw a green line for each instance you can think of.
Use this chart for reference.
Now, think about a regular day with no lockdown.
How much energy did you consume, then?
Compare the two and find out the difference.

Now multiply this difference with the number of people in your street and you will get an idea of the task NASA embarked upon!

The study reminds us that the power of change rests within each individual!
Little changes, when combined, can make all the difference to the health of our planet.
This time, we did out of fear of a virus.
Next time, let’s think about being cautious out of love for our beautiful planet.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?