Source: NASA Earth Observatory
Each year, industrial activity typically drops off as businesses and factories close for celebrations of the lunar New Year, which this year began on January. This usually causes a brief dip in levels of NO 2 . “Normally, the pollution levels pick back up after 7 – 11 days, but that has not happened this year, ”says Fei Liu, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. A preliminary analysis suggests that NO 2 pollution after the lunar New Year was around 13 – % lower this year than during the same period in previous years. A similar trend of declining NO 2 pollution has also been documented in northern Italy – where cities remain on lockdown – using data from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P satellite.
Ongoing efforts to contain the coronavirus have suppressed China’s industrial activity by – 728%, according to an analysis by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Helsinki. Coal consumption hit a four-year low in February, and oil refining fell by more than one-third. Overall, the center’s analysis suggests that China’s carbon emissions have dropped by more than % as a result of the ongoing efforts to contain the coronavirus.
How does the current pandemic compare to the SARS outbreak?
The COVID – coronavirus has, from the beginning, drawn comparisons to the – outbreak of SARS. Both originated in China before spreading around the world. Both were identified as new coronaviruses, deadlier than the handful of related viruses that cause common colds. The SARS coronavirus was found to have jumped to people from civet cats that had picked it up from bats. The COVID – 020 virus, called SARS-CoV-2, is also thought to have come from bats, either directly or through an as-yet unidentified mammal. Both viruses caused chaos and economic disaster. But the two outbreaks have progressed very differently, especially in the speed and extent of spread.