New Delhi Could Impose Lockdown to Combat Pollution

You’ll have heard various climate change fanatics call for lockdowns to be used to reduce carbon emissions – because they worked so well to curb the spread of COVID-19! Well, it’s starting. India’s Supreme Court is calling for a lockdown in New Delhi because of a “health emergency”. But the “emergency” is not due to COVID-19. It’s due to air pollution. NPR has more.

At a hearing Monday, justices ordered authorities to halt all nonessential travel on roads in the national capital region. They also told them to close offices in the area, shifting tens of millions of people to work from home.

It’s unclear if or when such a lockdown would take effect, or how long it might last. Delhi’s air quality appeared to ease slightly Monday. The AQI is now in the low 400s on a 500-point scale. Last week, it was off the charts in some areas.

Delhi’s Chief Minister has indicated his willingness to impose a pollution-related lockdown but has said it would have minimal effect without similar measures from neighbouring states. Officials from the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh plan to hold meetings Tuesday.

New Delhi’s schools are already closed this week because of air pollution that’s been about four times the safe limit. Construction sites are also on pause, which will ultimately slow the economy.

This is all because of toxic smog across much of northern India. It happens every winter as industrial and vehicular emissions mix with smoke from crop-burning after the harvest.

While farmers have often been blamed for exacerbating the pollution problem, government lawyers told the Supreme Court on Monday that crop-burning amounts to only about 10% of emissions. One justice responded by saying it might be even lower.

Some of the schools forced to shut this week had only just reopened for the first time in nearly 20 months, because of COVID-19.

Worth reading in full.

More than 25,000 Tonnes of Covid-Related PPE and Plastic Waste has Been Thrown in the Sea

More than 25,000 tonnes of personal protective equipment and other types of Covid-related plastic waste has entered Earth’s oceans, a new study estimates – and 71% of this is due to wash up on beaches by the end of the year. MailOnline has more.

Researchers in California have developed a computer model simulating the fate of plastic waste as it leaves beaches, drifts along the water and fragments into pieces.

They estimate that 8.4 million tons of pandemic-related plastic waste has been generated by 193 countries, from the start of the pandemic to August 2021.

Almost three quarters – 71% – is likely to wash up on beaches by the end of the year, the model suggests.

Most of the offending Covid-related plastic is from medical waste generated by hospitals, the researchers say, which “dwarfs” the contribution from PPE and packaging from online shopping giant like Amazon and eBay.

PPE includes masks, face shields disposable gloves and surgical gowns. The term “Covid-related plastic”, meanwhile, includes PPE and any plastic packaging used to contain these items, as well as plastic from test kits.

All can enter rivers and eventually travel into the world’s oceans if not disposed of properly.

The new study was led by a team of researchers at Nanjing University’s School of Atmospheric Sciences and UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who used data from the start of the pandemic in 2020 through to August 2021.

“Plastic waste causes harm to marine life and has become a major global environmental concern,” they say in their paper.

“The recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for single-use plastic, intensifying pressure on this already out-of-control problem.

“This work shows that more than eight million tons of pandemic-associated plastic waste have been generated globally, with more than 25,000 tons entering the global ocean.

“This poses a long-lasting problem for the ocean environment and is mainly accumulated on beaches and coastal sediments.”

Worth reading in full.