Aerial photography of gray concrete highways crossing

Working from home in sweatpants? Yes, please!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

The world-wide COVID pandemic has kept many people inside, away from restaurants, shops, and work. Without the usual hustle and bustle, how is the environment faring?

Zhu Liu from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, was curious.  She teamed up with dozens of international scientists to study over two hundred countries.  They analyzed CO2 emissions records from the first halves of the years 2019 and 2020. This allowed them to see the impact of pandemic-related lockdowns.

Results? CO2 levels in early 2020 were almost ten percent lower than those in the previous year! Why? There were less people on the road – and in the air. In fact, airplane emissions dropped by almost FIFTY percent worldwide! In the US, car emissions dropped by nearly twenty-five percent!

Less commuting! More snack breaks! And sweatpants. Green sweatpants. (Get it? Green? OK)

Liu, Z., Ciais, P., Deng, Z. et al. Near-real-time monitoring of global CO2 emissions reveals the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nat Commun 11, 5172 (2020).