Ah the coronavirus-invoked irony of our times! In my last-but-not-least comment in my review of recent blogs written in early March, I remarked that air pollution was a topic on which the last word has certainly not been said. [https://granadalabella.eu/granada-la-bella-blog.html] Meaning: in those still pre-coronavirus days, the problem of air pollution was surely going to get worse in the context of uninterrupted climate change and environment abuse. Yet today, 22 April, we can report that Granada, in common with many other cities in Spain and the world, is enjoying its cleanest air for decades, in the case of Granada since reliable records began in 1989,thanks primarily to the reduction in traffic flows due to the coronavirus lockdown. This is not the news I envisaged blogging about back then, in April 2019, when this pandemic outbreak still appeared closer to science fiction than reality.
Yet studies report a reduction of up to 62% in levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and of 31% in PM10 particles, whatever they are, in Granada. Nitrogen dioxide and PM10 particles are by far the major air pollutors, say environmental scientists.
So, “every cloud has a silver lining”. The lockdown has left us without doubt that there is a direct connection between traffic and the emission of these pollutants. This evidence delivers a powerful argument to the council’s department of the environment , which was already in the process of considering what measures to take when the lockdown is over in order to reduce if not eliminate toxic life-threatening emissions.
However, a word of warning: While air quality has improved dramatically over the last weeks, there has not been a corresponding reduction in the emissions of carbon dioxide, principal contributor to global warming. Here the decline has only amounted to 5.4%
If the curve of the pandemic has to be flattened, then so, too, does the carbon dioxide curve, say environmental scientists, but this latter curve is far from being flattened. On thecontrary, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is continuing to increase at an accelerating rhythm. 2019 was the hottest year ever recorded in Europe and eleven of the twelve hottest ever years have all fallen within the last twenty years.
As everyone keeps saying, there is no way we can return to ‘normal’.
Acknowledgement to:
R. G. 21 April, 2020
Manual Planelles Madrid 22 Apr 2020

crisp and cleaan air over Granada, 22.4.2020