(TMU) — As the globe continues to grapple with the inexorable spread of the coronavirus pandemic, air pollution has plunged to unprecedented new lows worldwide and especially in some of the most contaminated cities, new research has found.
On Earth Day, Swiss-based air quality technology company IQAir published a COVID-19 Air Quality Report that shows how air pollution levels in 10 major cities around the globe have fallen to as much as 60 percent due to government-mandated shutdowns of non-essential businesses and physical distancing measures meant to curb the novel coronavirus.
The study examined cities’ measurements before and after the COVID-19 outbreak of the harmful fine particulate matter known as PM 2.5. The particulate matter, which lodges deep into the lungs and passes into vital organs and the bloodstream, causes a number of serious risks to people’s health.
The report looked at London, Los Angeles, New Delhi, New York City, Madrid, Mumbai, Rome, São Paulo, Seoul, and Wuhan.
The research revealed a “drastic drop” in air pollution in almost every city facing lockdown compared to a year earlier, with the exception of Rome.
New Delhi experienced a 60 percent fall of PM2.5 from 2019 levels. The metropolis also experienced a sharp drop in hours during which the Indian capital experienced air pollution ratings of “unhealthy,” with the percentage of hours falling from 68 percent in 2019 to 17 percent during the 2020 lockdown. In Mumbai, air pollution dropped by 34 percent.
Seoul, South Korea, saw a 54 percent decrease from last year while soot levels in Wuhan, China, dropped by 44 percent.
Meanwhile, in São Paulo, Brazil, air pollution has dropped by 32 percent.
In sunny Los Angeles, California, which has long been associated with its clogged freeways and dense smog, Angelenos celebrated Earth Day with some of the best air quality the city has ever seen, according to IQAir. With far fewer cars on the road due to the city’s Safer-at-Home order and much-welcomed spring showers, the City of Angels’ fine particle pollution has dropped by 31 percent compared to last year and 51 percent compared to the previous four-year average.
IQAir North America CEO Glory Dolphin Hammes said:
“We saw that L.A. had some of the cleanest air quality in the world.
“About a year ago, Los Angeles was ranked the worst air quality in the entire country- and now we’re seeing some of the best air quality in the world.”
Meanwhile, New York City saw its air pollution drop by 25 percent as a result of its lockdown.
London and Madrid saw far more modest air pollution reductions at 9 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
Frank Hammes, CEO of IQAir Group said in a statement:
“Across the globe, the coronavirus pandemic has had a monumental impact on the way we live.
“While the human and economic costs are devastating, we are also witnessing how much of air pollution comes from human activity. The drastic reduction in air pollution during COVID-19 lockdowns shows how our habits and behaviors directly impact the air we breathe. That’s an important insight [after] this unique Earth Day.”
While this news is more than welcome amid the horrific stream of daily news related to the novel coronavirus that attacks the respiratory system and our bodies’ major organs, the news regrettably will not last.
Air pollution is expected to kick off again with a vengeance once restrictions are loosened and industries churn back into action. Such rebounds impacting air quality and greenhouse gas emissions have been recorded during past crises including the 2008 recession.
However, the dire fears over a prolonged and deep recession with no precedent since the Great Depression of the 1930s could mean that this respite for the air could last much longer than investors and global markets desire.
Lunar New Deal: GOP Lawmaker Suggests Altering Moon & Earth’s Orbit to Stop Climate Change
Texas Republican Congressman Louise Gohmert raised the eyebrows of his Congressional colleagues on Tuesday after seemingly suggesting that climate change could be combatted by changing the orbit of the moon, or even altering “Earth’s orbit around the sun.”
Gohmert, who has been decried as the “dumbest member of Congress” for his past absurdly anti-scientific comments regarding the ongoing pandemic and a number of other issues, has been a vocal opponent of progressive legislators’ attempts to put a “Green New Deal” on the government’s agenda.
However, his apparent suggestion of a “Lunar New Deal” to mitigate global warming could take the cake as his most hare-brained idea yet.
The comments came during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on four pending bills while questioning Jennifer Eberlien of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, reports NBC.
“I understand, from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the B.L.M. [Bureau of Land Management], you want very much to work on the issue of climate change,” the Texas congressman began.
“I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they’ve found that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the sun,” he continued.
“We know there’s been significant solar flare activity,” Gohmert said. “And so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or B.L.M. can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?”
“Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate,” the lawmaker added.
Responding, Eberlein said with a smile: “I would have to follow up with on you on that one, Mr. Gohmert.”
“If you figure out there’s a way in the forest service you could make that change, I’d like to know,” Gohmert responded, without any trace of irony.
Longtime critics of the conservative legislator were besides themselves with bewilderment and mockery over the out-of-this-world suggestion.
On the opposite side of the aisle California Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu suggested that perhaps Marvel Comics superheroine Captain Marvel was up to the task.
“She can alter planetary orbits with her superpowers. I’m going to work on a bipartisan resolution asking for her help,” Lieu wrote on Twitter.
According to NASA, the Earth’s climate has changed throughout history for various reasons, including small variations in the planet’s orbit.
However, the agency’s website notes that this doesn’t discount the fact that anthropogenic or human-caused activities are the culprit of the current warming.
“The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over millennia,” the site says.
Luxurious Airships Will Soon Be ‘Hopping’ Between Cities, And Could Drastically Cut Flying’s CO2 Emissions
A revolutionary new startup called Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) is hoping to massively reduce the carbon footprint of air travel by replacing commercial airplanes with blimps for short-range flights.
An estimated 2.4 percent of global CO2 emissions come from aviation which, along with the other gases it burns and the water vapor trails produced by aircraft, is estimated to contribute roughly 5 percent of global warming.
However, by slashing the number of planes traveling short distances and instead using airships to hop between cities – think from Los Angeles to Las Vegas or New York to Toronto – HAV could contribute to a drastic cutdown of airliners’ carbon emissions.
At present, about 47 percent of regional airplane flights in Europe connect cities that are less than 230 miles (370km) apart, emitting a massive amount of carbon dioxide in the process.
HAV, which gained early funding from seasoned pilot and Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson along with UK government backing, says that its airships only emit around ten percent of the greenhouse gases of a passenger plane – and the number could reduce further as the startup continues to electrify its fleet.
According to HAV chief executive Tom Grundy, the airships are more like a “fast ferry” than an all-out replacement for airplanes. In total, a short-range blimp voyage should take roughly the same amount of time as a short flight when factoring in check-in times, security procedures and the wait at an airport.
“This isn’t a luxury product,” Grundy told The Guardian, “it’s a practical solution to challenges posed by the climate crisis.”
“We’ve got aircraft designed to travel very long distances going very short distances when there is actually a better solution,” Grundy added. “How much longer will we expect to have the luxury of traveling these short distances with such a big carbon footprint?”
The company has already begun discussions with a number of airlines to forge new partnerships to operate the routes.
“It’s an early and quick win for the climate,” Grundy said. “Especially when you use this to get over an obstacle like water or hills.”
Scientists Horrified as Over 27,000 Leaking Barrels of Toxic DDT Discovered on Seafloor Near LA
Over 27,000 barrels of the toxic insecticide DDT have been found so far on the seafloor about 12 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, in what could be one of the greatest examples of industrial pollution uncovered in recent memory.
The barrels have been leaking, and researchers fear that there could be up to a few hundred thousand barrels of DDT waste in total. Over 100,000 total objects have been found in the area by researchers at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
The barrels cover an area roughly spanning double the size of Manhattan and lie off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, which is home to dozens of endemic species that exist nowhere else in the world.
DDT waste has been linked to cancer and widespread disease among humans as well as mass die-off events in the natural world. It is likely that the vast trove of illegally dumped DDT could be linked to the widespread cancer faced by sea lions along the West Coast.
“Unfortunately, the basin offshore Los Angeles has been a dumping ground for industrial waste for several decades, beginning in the 1930s. We found an extensive debris field in the wide area survey,” said Eric Terrill, chief scientist of the expedition and director of the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said in a statement.
Los Angeles Times reports that shipping logs from a disposal company implicate Montrose Chemical Corp. of California, a company that produced DDT, in likely dumping some 2,000 barrels of DDT-laced sludge each month from 1947 to 1961 into a designated dumpsite.
Additionally, logs from other entities show that several other industrial concerns in Southern California used the basin as a dumping ground until 1972, when the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act was enacted.
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