Coronavirus shutdowns have unintended climate benefits: cleaner air, clearer water

It’s like we’ve been saying around here for years; No more humans, no more problem.

“I think there are some big-picture lessons here that could be very useful,” one scientist said.

Tourists on a Venice canal in 2013; Water in Venice’s canals appeared to run clearer in the absence of boat traffic in early March.Getty Images; Marco Capovilla / Venezia Pulita

In Venice, the often murky canals recently began to get clearer, with fish visible in the water below. Italy’s efforts to limit the coronavirus meant an absence of boat traffic in the city’s famous waterways. And the changes happened quickly.

Countries that have been under stringent lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus have experienced an unintended benefit. The outbreak has, at least in part, contributed to a noticeable drop in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in some nations.

Though grim, it’s something that scientists said could offer tough lessons for how to prepare — and ideally avoid — the most destructive impacts of climate change.