Extreme Temperature Diary- Sunday May 2nd, 2021/ Main Topic: Climate Central’s Report On How Covid-19 Affected Carbon Pollution

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I‚Äôll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).ūüėČ

Main Topic: Climate Central’s Report On How Covid-19 Affected Carbon Pollution

Dear Diary. As of early May 2021 it’s quite obvious that outside of a few aversely affected countries, the world is coming back from COVID-19. The wheels of business and industry are coming roaring back to life and so are rates of pollution. Yes, there were some strides in the last year towards converting to renewables during the time when economies were shut down, coming to grips with the pandemic, but not nearly enough to significantly overhaul how we produce energy or move goods and people from place to place.

Climate Central has complied some interesting statistics from 2020, which will probably get known in history as the year that COVID-19 made civilization stop and pause. Here are their findings:

https://medialibrary.climatecentral.org/resources/covid-19-and-climate-change

Covid-19 and Climate Change

APR 28, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic created an initial drop in greenhouse gas emissions as millions of people worldwide stayed home to prevent the spread of the virus. Impacts on air quality were positive but limited. Are there lessons from the pandemic to help us combat climate change?

See full multimedia package here >>KEY CONCEPTS | RESOURCES FOR LOCAL REPORTING | EXPERTS TO INTERVIEW


KEY CONCEPTS

  • Global¬†carbon dioxide emissions¬†dropped about 7%¬†in 2020, according to the Global Carbon Project‚ÄĒthe¬†biggest annual decrease¬†since the end of World War II. In the U.S., annual CO2 emissions dropped by nearly 13%.¬†¬†
  • But as Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns ended,¬†emissions returned¬†to their normal climb¬† and the brief drop in CO2 emissions had a¬†negligible impact¬†on rising global temperatures.¬†
  • The results for other air pollutants‚ÄĒnitrogen dioxide (NO2)¬†and¬†particulate matter (PM2.5)‚ÄĒwere mixed. When everyone‚Äôs mobility was severely restricted,¬†NO2 concentrations dropped¬†in cities around the world. But pandemic lockdowns did not lower¬†PM2.5 levels¬†beyond their normal range and 2020‚Äôs record-breaking wildfire season¬†wiped out air quality gains¬†made during that time.
Global CO2 Emissions

Global CO2 Emissions

Emissions Lifecycles

Emissions Lifecycles

Last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic put the brakes on global economic activity, greenhouse gas emissions and some air pollutants saw a sharp but temporary reduction. Global¬†carbon dioxide emissions¬†dropped by about 7%¬†in 2020, according to the Global Carbon Project‚ÄĒthe¬†biggest annual decrease¬†since the end of World War II. In the U.S., annual CO2 emissions dropped by nearly 13%.¬† But researchers found most of the decreases occurred early in the year, with the biggest drop in April. As restrictions and lockdowns ended,¬†emissions returned¬†to their normal climb.¬†

Even with the¬†declines in emissions, humans still added a huge amount of new CO2 to the¬†atmosphere, and concentrations of this heat-trapping gas continued to rise. (Emissions¬†are the amount of pollutant matter released from a specific source and in a specific time interval;¬†concentrations¬†are the amount of pollutant matter in the atmosphere per volume unit.) Earlier this month, the Mauna Loa Observatory measured the concentration of atmospheric CO2 at more than¬†420 parts per million‚ÄĒsetting a new record.

That brief drop in CO2 emissions had a¬†negligible impact¬†on rising global temperatures, as CO2 remains in the atmosphere¬†long after¬†it is emitted. To keep the planet from warming more than 1.5¬įC above pre-industrial levels, a goal of the¬†Paris Agreement, CO2 emissions would¬†need to decrease¬†roughly the same amount every year (7.6%) for the next decade.

Results were mixed for decreases of the air pollutants nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5).

  • NO2¬†is primarily emitted by vehicles and airplanes during fuel combustion and is one of the chemicals that contributes to the creation of¬†unhealthy surface ozone. Unlike CO2, it has a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere, lasting only a few hours before it disappears. When everyone‚Äôs mobility was severely restricted,¬†NO2 concentrations dropped¬†in cities around the world. This was partially due to shutdowns; weather and long-term improvements in air quality were also at play.¬†
  • PM2.5¬†comes from a number of sources, including transportation (especially diesel vehicles), industry, wood-burning stoves, and wildfires. In the U.S., research found¬†mixed results¬†for PM2.5 concentrations, but essentially the pandemic lockdowns did not lower PM2.5 levels beyond their normal range. Another¬†report¬†found that pollutants from 2020‚Äôs record-breaking wildfire season wiped out any air quality improvements made during Covid.¬†

So what did we learn from the Covid-19 experience that we can apply to solving climate change? 

We need to transform our energy systems.

  • When individuals cut back on flying and driving due to the pandemic, the impact was really small compared to the baseline carbon emissions required to power homes, run factories, and move goods across the planet. In order to get to¬†net-zero emissions, we need to switch to renewable energy and¬†electrify our transportation¬†systems. The shift to renewables can be a huge economic driver, unlike Covid-19. A¬†Princeton University study¬†found taking actions to achieve net-zero emissions could create 500,000 to 1 million new energy jobs in the U.S. during this decade alone.

Covid and climate change affect populations disproportionately. 

Science matters.

  • The pandemic put scientists and health experts front and center. Broad investment in basic science¬†led to the technology¬†that produced novel vaccines and diagnostic tests. Similarly, investment in research decades ago helped to create¬†improved batteries¬†that power electric vehicles and to advance climate projections. Governments, scientists, and the business community worked together to fast track the development of vaccines and deliver them to the public safely. If any progress is going to be made on climate change, it must lean heavily on science and scientists in policy and decision making.

RESOURCES FOR LOCAL REPORTING

Looking to report on local carbon emissions and air quality? 
Check your state‚Äôs¬†Carbon Dioxide Emissions Data¬†from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.¬† You can find local air quality data at¬†AirNow.gov¬†and¬†NASA‚Äôs Global Nitrogen Dioxide Monitoring Page. Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have established greenhouse gas emissions targets‚ÄĒtracked¬†here¬†by C2ES.

More resources on Covid-19 and emissions:

Articles on Covid-19 and climate change

LOCAL EXPERTS

The SciLine service, 500 Women Scientists or the press offices of local universities may be able to connect you with local scientists who have expertise on climate change in your area. The American Association of State Climatologists is a professional scientific organization composed of all 50 state climatologists. Find and contact your state climatologist. 

NATIONAL EXPERTS

Related:

Here are some overseas ET’s:

Here Is More Climatology From April 2021:

Here is more climate and weather news from Sunday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton ‚ÄúThe Climate Guy‚ÄĚ

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