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Greenhouse Gas Production Drops by 17 Percent due to Coronavirus: Nature Climate Change; Wildfires in Siberia burning 5 million acres: EcoWatch


pollution by marcinjozwiak courtesy of

From Nature Climate Change on May 19:

 Daily global CO2 emissions decreased by –17% (–11 to –25% for ±1σ) by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels, just under half from changes in surface transport. At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by –26% on average. The impact on 2020 annual emissions depends on the duration of the confinement, with a low estimate of –4% (–2 to –7%) if prepandemic [sic] conditions return by mid-June, and a high estimate of –7% (–3 to –13%) if some restrictions remain worldwide until the end of 2020.

We see a lesson here.  Surface transportation is responsible for a large proportion of climate-changing gases emitted into the atmosphere.  If we were to transition to electric-powered (or even hydrogen-powered) vehicles for getting about, we would see a dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.  If not, we will continue to suffer the effects.

Another problem: fires in the sub-arctic regions of Russia (Siberia) are increasing this spring.  According to EcoWatch, 5 million acres are currently burning in Siberia and Eastern Russia. Last year saw an enormous number and size of fires as the permafrost thawed and humans were unable to control ignitions.  Many of these fires are spontaneous, the result of lightning hitting dry vegetation.  The existing fire control systems are not up to the task of stopping these fires, and the Russian economy is in such bad condition that it is unrealistic to expect any reinforcements.  The remoteness of most of these fires also militates against control.  These circumstances (the cratering Russian economy) are a result of the pandemic weakening oil prices, on which the Russians depend for foreign exchange.  Thus, there is a negative effect of the pandemic on greenhouse gases as well as a positive effect from reduced vehicular activity.

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