A conversation on the coronavirus, COVID-19, carbon emissions and the benefits/hazards of industrial shutdown across the planet.
One of the most devastating facts about the recent outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 is not just the 80,000+ people it has infected around the world, though that bears study. Nor has the 2000+ people who have died from it to be discounted, it has beaten the record of the previous coronaviruses SARS and MERS and is likely to set another record in terms of deaths from a new and novel virus. The most telling thing about what has happened since this virus was discovered when an analysis of the carbon dioxide pollution levels from China were studied and it was noticed that pollution levels during this time of year are always down due to the Chinese New Year.
This year, with the coronavirus spreading, China did not spin up their industries and the resultant effect on our environment is significant and noticeable. Not only did factories not restart, driving also didn’t, China’s roads remain almost empty despite the claim companies were returning to work. Airlines, over 30,000 flights have remained cancelled and as such, the skies have been noticeably cleaner than they have been in a long time. Pollution levels are about 25% lower according to calculations by Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst at the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
China’s industrial engine, temporarily quiet, reveals just how much pollution is taking place and what the world would have to do to reduce global emissions enough to stop our rising atmospheric temperatures.
It also points out just how much of an effect humanity’s commercial processes have on the air we are breathing no matter where we live on the planet. China’s reduction in pollution output for three weeks, is the equivalent of the state of New York’s output for an entire year (about 150 million metric tons) as estimated by Mr. Myllyvirta. Unwittingly, as the coronavirus sweeps the planet, we may be seeing a clear indicator of the effects our industrial activity is having on the world and how the culpability for this environmental catastrophe lies solely in the hands of Human activity, whether we care to acknowledge it or not.
Could the future of humanity lie in the temporary but sustained regular shutdowns of commerce and industry? Could industries around the world be convinced to stop production for extended periods if this would lead to cleaner air, reduced greenhouse gases, lower atmospheric pollution and reduced atmospheric temperatures, possibly offsetting global warming?
- Should the people, in light of this new information begin to demand this possible alternative?
- What are the ramifications of turning off factories, shutting down commercial processes, even on a temporary basis?
- Could society survive periods of Industrial Quiet?
- Or will the quest for profit doom the planet because of the economic ramifications of such a radical step?
Listen to the discussion here:
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Footnotes and Photo Credit — “Once upon a time there was a very short story with a very long shelf life. Button, Button by Richard Matheson was originally published in Playboy in 1970, where it was widely read, because even back then everyone really bought it for the articles. Fifteen years after original publication, possibly after a producer came across it while flicking through a large stack of loo reading, it was turned into a Twilight Zone segment.” And then—a full length feature which was the subject of this review in The Guardian. Plot synopsis adapted from Wikipedia to fill in the gaps in my memory.
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— The Good Men Project (@GoodMenProject) March 10, 2019