Residents of Nairobi can again see the mountains in the distance. People in Los Angeles are looking up and seeing stars at night. In a quieter, calmer Wuhan, China, you can hear the birds chirping again.
Shutting down economies is giving us a glimpse of what the world could look like if less fuel is burned. One clear, immediate benefit? Less air pollution.
Last year, the United Nations noted that “polluted air kills some 7 million people each year, causes long-term health problems, such as asthma, and reduces children’s cognitive development.” Air pollution is also expensive: According to the World Bank, it costs societies more than $5 trillion annually.