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Covid 19 and the Environment:


beecee
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 Is this covid 19 virus helping our environment in anyway?

Certainly, countries in lockdown are having less cars on the road, as people are working from home...but is this having the effect of more heating and/or cooling in the home?

My own state has fast-tracked building projects, such as a much needed second Airport. Is/will this fast-tracking lead to some disregard for certain protection and emission policies?

Will we need to wait a couple of years to gauge any overall effect?

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Don’t have a link handy, but early in lockdown there was a noticeable drop in soot and smog, much from airlines, but while the rate of CO2 growth had slowed, amount of CO2 still went up. Airlines are flying again now too. Big issue is waste from PPE… lots of masks and gloves etc in landfills. 

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18 minutes ago, iNow said:

Don’t have a link handy, but early in lockdown there was a noticeable drop in soot and smog, much from airlines, but while the rate of CO2 growth had slowed, amount of CO2 still went up. Airlines are flying again now too. Big issue is waste from PPE… lots of masks and gloves etc in landfills. 

Yeah good point re the PPE and masks and stuff. Where I am they are starting to crack down hard on careless people discarding their masks willy nilly anywhere, as they should.

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https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0797-x

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Daily global CO2 emissions decreased by –17% (–11 to –25% for ±1σ) by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels, just under half from changes in surface transport. At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by –26% on average. The impact on 2020 annual emissions depends on the duration of the confinement, with a low estimate of –4% (–2 to –7%) if prepandemic conditions return by mid-June, and a high estimate of –7% (–3 to –13%) if some restrictions remain worldwide until the end of 2020. 

 

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00090-3
 

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After rising steadily for decades, global carbon dioxide emissions fell by 6.4%, or 2.3 billion tonnes, in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic squelched economic and social activities worldwide, according to new data on daily fossil fuel emissions. The decline is significant — roughly double Japan’s yearly emissions — but smaller than many climate researchers expected given the scale of the pandemic, and is not expected to last once the virus is brought under control.

The United States contributed the most to the global dip, with a nearly 13% decrease in its emissions, due mostly to a sharp decline in vehicle transportation that began with lockdowns in March and continued as the pandemic escalated at the end of the year. Globally, the energy sector most affected by pandemic lockdowns and restrictions was aviation, where emissions fell 48% from their 2019 total.

 

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  • 5 months later...

The extra plastic waste is certainly a concern. Not just from the protective gear, but from all sources. 

Fewer people going to work downtown, while bad for the coffee and street food vendors, also reduces the garbage from takeout food. At the same time, however, people are ordering takeout food at home, and ordering groceries and prepackaged foods online.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166460/

In the first few months, our supermarkets gave out plastic shopping bags instead of letting reusable into the store. When it became widely known that the risk of transmission on surfaces is minimal, they went back to encouraging customers to bring their bags and pack their own groceries (a great improvement, to my mind; both safer and less wasteful).

Other changes, like air quality, have already been mentioned. Here is a good overview

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This study indicates that, the pandemic situation significantly improves air quality in different cities across the world, reduces GHGs emission, lessens water pollution and noise, and reduces the pressure on the tourist destinations, which may assist with the restoration of the ecological system. In addition, there are also some negative consequences of COVID-19, such as increase of medical waste, haphazard use and disposal of disinfectants, mask, and gloves; and burden of untreated wastes continuously endangering the environment.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7498239/

What we don't know, and won't for a long time, is how the pattern of work, transport, industry, domestic arrangements and social activity will be affected in the long term. ATM, rents are out of control in North America https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-05/tenants-struggle-with-red-hot-u-s-rental-market

and property prices are still increasing as well https://blog.remax.ca/canadian-housing-market-outlook/

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Single-detached homes experienced the biggest price gains when comparing 2021* to 2020 data, rising between 6.8 and 27.3 per cent across 27 markets surveyed in the report. RE/MAX brokers and agents expect this trend to continue into the fall, driven by strong demand by young families

So there will almost certainly be a building boom, with all its pollution and waste products.

There will also be a major shift in the patterns of industry and transport. I'm hoping for more local production and small independent operations - especially in food and building material, but it's very far from clear how politics and disease will affect our decisions over the next couple of years.

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