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Are the restrictions in place to fight the virus helping the environment?

Maybe the scientists are right.

I’m not talking about the health care professionals and their predictions and conclusions about the COVID-19 pandemic, but the environment.

The mandated lockdowns and shelter in place orders issued by the leaders of foreign countries and our governors and mayors in America are having at least a temporary positive effect on the world’s environment.

According to an online article from the BBC, getting people to stay home as a way to control the COVID-19 virus and reduce the death toll “has also led to some unexpected consequences.

“As industries, transport networks and businesses have closed down, it has brought a sudden drop in carbon emissions. Compared with this time last year, levels of pollution in New York have (been) reduced by nearly 50 percent because of measures to contain the virus.”

In China, according to the article, emissions fell 25 percent at the start of the year as people were instructed to stay home, and factories and coal use fell by 40 percent at China’s six largest power plants since the last quarter of 2019.

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the skies over California are the clearest they have been in years and the Bay Area “is basking in its cleanest air in months, if not years.”

According to the article, satellite photos of China show an unprecedented drop in pollution and worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are falling. “And even the planet’s rivers and bays are clearing up, including the famously murky canals of Venice.”

I’m no tree hugger, but as someone who deals with seasonal allergies and upper respiratory problems, I’m glad to see this happen.

For years, scientists and environmentalists have been calling our attention to the harm caused by hydrocarbon emissions from industrial plants, automobiles and aircraft. The reduced traffic and improved environment resulting from the shutdowns and sheltering in place have proven them right. I’ve noticed the change here in town. The air smells cleaner, visibility is better and when the air is warm, it’s not so oppressive.

According to an article in Scientific American, because COVID-19 attacks our lungs, air pollution makes us more vulnerable to the virus.

“It’s no surprise that COVID-19 deaths are high in places with poor air quality,” according to the article, which refers to a recent study by Harvard University that emphasizes the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

As the restrictions placed to protect us from COVID-19 are lifted and we try to return to normalcy, I hope our leaders will listen to the scientists and keep, not cancel anti-pollution regulations, and restore those that were removed.

We now know from science that respiratory conditions are either caused, or aggravated by, air pollution.

We have a chance to enhance one of the positive effects of the COVID-19 restrictions by restricting emissions and pollution, not because it is the politically-correct thing to do but because it is the right thing to do.


John Surratt is a staff writer with The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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