Quarantine, help against Coronavirus and smog

black and white photo of a city enveloped in fog
Image by Kevin Dooley is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This assertion has been made not by a journalist looking for sensational scoops but by the well-documented researchers of the University of Notre Dame. The study, published in the prestigious  scientific journal Lancet, proves that the reduction in CO2 emissions has given a clean-up to the cloak of smog covering Europe and Asia. The main reason is the decrease in the volume and frequency of transport in recent months. For example, in China PM fell by about 29.7%, in Europe by 17.1%. In summary, 24,000 premature deaths less in China and 2,190 less in Europe.

This forced experiment gives us a rough idea of the costs of the current system of production and transport in industrial society. However, this situation has also shown that a significant reduction in premature deaths, caused by smog, can be achieved in a reasonably limited time period, through a significant cut in emissions of pollutants. In fact, in 2016 the World Health Organization estimated that premature deaths due to smog were about 4.2 million people. Therefore, we can get an idea of the benefits of a greater attention to environmental pollution.

On the other hand, the British Medical Journal has published another research by the Society of Environmental Medicine. It identifies a precise relationship between the PM10 rates present in the Po Valley during winter and the dramatic impact of the epidemic in Bergamo. Overruns of safety limits for three or four consecutive days would correspond to an increase in the now-well-known RO index from 2 to 4. Similar studies have been carried out in different parts of the planet, confirming the correlation between air pollution and physical weakening.

This evidence is no longer questioned by experts. For this reason, the choice to invest significant shares of the Recovery Fund resources in a green economy is welcomed in Europe. Despite this, the transition between fossil and renewable energy is far from easy.