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COVID-19 and the environment: What ESA’s Copernicus has seen from space

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European Space Agency (ESA) has recently launched a video that discusses a few of the environmental issues, and the impact of coronavirus on the environment based on the data collected through the European fleet of Copernicus satellites. It goes without saying and it may sound a little banal but the pandemic has disrupted the normal flow of life globally, and the lockdown imposed on countries to battle the pandemic has impacted the economic life as well. However, as much as it has affected humanity, there have been a few positive arenas accelerated by the lockdown.

The data collected through the Sentinel 5P of the Copernicus Programme shows a massive reduction in NO2 concentration. Josef Aschbacher, the Director of Earth Observation Programmes, explains ESA’s findings in the video.

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According to him, overall there has been a massive reduction in NO2 concentration globally, especially in those areas where lockdown has been imposed. The main sources of the poisonous gas are traffic, schools, and industry. Now that almost all of the institutions are closed, and factories shut down, along with empty roads and highways – all of it has contributed to the sudden fall in NO2 concentration. The satellite has captured photos of cities where lockdown has been imposed, and the photos are shocking.

From Venice being blessed with crystal clear water to the Himalayan Peaks being seen with the naked eyes from regions where people have not seen the peaks for generations, there is no doubt that the lockdown has had a positive effect on the environment. The NO2 is also responsible for various diseases such as asthma. However, this positive effect has come with its own price that hinders economic growth and is hampering the mental well-being of people.

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The ESA also brings into question how the reduction of NO2 levels could be taken advantage of after the lockdown is lifted. Josef Aschbacher suggests that we should try to develop packages that are sustainable for our environment in the long run.

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