From wired.com, December 27, 2021
JUST LIKE THAT, a pandemic-fueled glimpse of a better world is growing hazy—or smoggy, to be more precise. As civilization locked down in early 2020—industries ground to a halt, more people worked from home, and almost no one traveled—global carbon dioxide emissions crashed by 6.4 percent, and in the United States by 13 percent. In turn, air quality greatly improved. Life transformed, sure enough, but that transformation was fleeting. Scientists warned that the drop would be temporary because economies would roar back stronger than ever to make up for lost revenue. Indeed, by the end of 2021, emissions have now returned to pre-pandemic levels.
“What we witnessed was more or less one year of emissions decline that would help put us on a reasonable trajectory,” says environmental economist Mark Paul of the New College of Florida. “But there was also tremendous pain for tens of millions who lost their jobs.”
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