When will the planet really start to heal?

A plant sprouting through concrete.
8 July 2020

From coyotes roaming the streets of San Francisco, to NASA satellite imagery showing massive drops in air pollution, the coronavirus crisis has spawned some good news stories for the planet.

The worldwide lockdowns and slowdowns have also led to a significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions, although new modelling shows it could take decades for these declines to have any actual impact on temperature trends.

Scientists including Dr Pep Canadell at the CSIRO recently found that daily global CO2 emissions had decreased 17 per cent from average 2019 levels by early April 2020. That research estimated global emissions would drop by somewhere between 4 and 7 per cent in 2020, depending on how long COVID-19 curtailed normal human activity.

But modelling by Norwegian scientists published today in Nature Communications suggests it could take decades before even significant emissions reductions led to detectable changes in global surface temperatures.

Read the full article on the Herald Sun website, featuring commentary by Prof Mark Howden