Nothing will make up for the tragic loss of the virus’ victims. But a possible silver lining of the global shutdown from the COVID19 pandemic is a marked reduction in global air pollution. The implication, according to  experts at Stanford University, is that many lives that would have been endangered by air pollution may be saved as a result of the shutdown.

“Air pollution exceeds malaria as a global cause of premature death by a factor of 19; it exceeds violence by a factor of 16, HIV/AIDS by a factor of 9, alcohol by a factor of 45, and drug abuse by a factor of 60.” Says Marshall Burke, an environmental resource economist from Stanford University.

The two months of pollution reduction, Burke calculates, has probably already saved the lives of 4,000 children under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70 in China alone. Apply that equation to urban areas across the planet and it adds up to hundreds of thousands of people.


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