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How global lockdown has improved air quality.

The entire world is in a war with the coronavirus. It has not only affected us medically, rather it has changed our daily lives. Many people are suffering from medical and psychological trauma with this sudden change. This virus has led people to stop traveling, strictly adhere to hygiene, adapt to working from the home, etc. Most of it is all new and is changing our daily lives. COVID-19 has shattered the world economy and has negatively affected almost everybody. But we have seen the major differences when it comes to the environment. Currently, we can say it is the only thing that benefits from global lockdowns. Major changes like working from home, decreased transports, closed factories, etc. have decreased the carbon emission in the air, which in turn increased the air quality. Entities like “The Climate Group” have reported that working from home has the potential to reduce nearly 300 million tons of carbon emission per year. Cities like Delhi, which registers very poor air quality, is improving. A clear picture is attained when we look at data from the Central Pollution Control Board's Air Quality Index (AQI) which is calculated by summing up various factors, and the higher the number is, the poorer is the air quality. If we compare the AQI data of 12th January and 12th May. The AQI of New Delhi on 12th January was 362, which is considered very poor. But the AQI score of 12th May was only 89, which is considered to be satisfactory. Just like Delhi, we can compare the AQI data of all cities around the globe, and we can see, in the lockdown, the air quality has improved drastically.

If it is the question of improving air quality, we have to take the data from countries like China into consideration. China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment has reported that the average quality air has increased by 21.5% in February as compared to last year. The carbon emission has drastically gone down. It has been decreased by 25% between February and March. This 25% can potentially be quantified to 200 million tonnes. Many car manufacturing industries and power plant us nitrogen dioxide, a very harmful greenhouse gas. But the emission of nitrogen dioxide has also drastically reduced due to the lockdown.

But all this progress in improving air quality has been due to the COVID-19 crisis. This should not be satisfactory results for any of us because the moment the lockdown gets lifted, we will again go back in our destructive ways. All these improvements are all but short term. This lockdown has shown us how our environment should be. Now we must work hard to come up with long-term solutions to save our environment.


By Kaustav Bose & Sandipan Mahapatra

(May 2020)


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