Sunday, May 31, 2020

the environmental benefits of containment

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Published on : 03/25/2020 – 20:49

It’s been a good week, since Tuesday March 17, that the French are confined and the beneficial effects on the environment are already measurable. In Paris, the air is much less polluted than usual. The Airparif organization notes “an improvement in air quality of 20 to 30%” following a “drop of more than 60% for nitrogen oxides”. Unheard of in forty years of measurements. And this exceptional situation is directly linked to the decrease in road and air traffic.

For fine particles it is another story. Their reduction is less clear, because they come from different sources, and certain emitting activities have not decreased: agriculture and residential heating, among others. In addition, the beautiful spring weather of the last days tends to trap fine particles as under a cover of hot air.

However, other good news: CO2 emissions, one of the greenhouse gas responsible for climate change, have also declined, according to Airparif.

Cleaner air and less noise

When engine noise decreases, birds chirp is heard … and animals relax.

Jérôme Sueur, eco-acoustician at the National Museum of Natural History talks about a sound “detoxification”. Normally, outside confinement, the noises caused by human activity interfere with the noises of animals. However, their cries often have vital functions: to signify that they are ready to reproduce, to warn of a danger … To cover the noise caused by humans, they are forced to sing louder or more often, and it tires them. Conversely, relative silence should help these animals to be better and to reproduce more easily. In any case, Jérôme Sueur congratulates himself: ” With the Covid-19 crisis, the decrease in transport traffic offers unique conditions for a large-scale scientific experiment. Partly suppressing the noise of an entire country – an exogenous shock unthinkable for a scientist – makes it possible to test the importance of anthropophony (sounds linked to human activities) on animal behavior and ecology.

The effects of containment on marine biodiversity

The containment also made people happy in the Calanques park in Marseille. Park wardens have been able to see sometimes rare species that usually stay away from this Mediterranean site due to the frequent passage of leisure boats. But while the Marseillais stayed at home, dolphins and tuna, puffins, gannets and gray herons went out, and sea birds landed in places where they had never been seen before.

When containment is complete

But scientists fear a return to the situation at the end of containment. Economic recovery plans could lose all of these environmental benefits, as has happened in the past, especially after the 2008 crisis.

A group of deputies are trying to avoid this trap: Matthieu Orphelin (ex-La République en Marche) is behind a “Great plan to transform our society in favor of the climate, biodiversity, solidarity and of social justice ”.

In the aftermath of the crisis, he intends to collectively invent another model of society compatible with safeguarding the climate and biodiversity. During the parliamentary debate on the measures establishing a state of health emergency for two months, he therefore tabled an amendment with 35 other deputies relating to this “Great Plan”. The law was published on Monday March 23. But the amendment was rejected without even being debated, after the government’s unfavorable opinion.

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