On Tuesday, March 24, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a nationwide lockdown in a bid to battle COVID-19. The shut-in of India’s 1.3 billion population meant the amount of people under lockdown worldwide jumped to 2.6 billion people, which is roughly a third of the human population.
In doing so, it created a strange statistic – more people are now under official lockdown across the planet, through 24 countries, than there were people alive during World War 2.
In 1940, the population of Earth stood at just 2.3 billion, according to the United States Census Bureau, which is 300 million less than those being asked to stay indoors.
The global population began to boom in 1960, when it was three billion and had doubled in 39 years by 1999, according to Our World In Data.
Following 1999, the population exploded once again, jumping by 1.7 billion by 2019 – although it is slowly beginning to plateau now.
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However, with so many people under lockdown and streets being emptied, the world is taking a much-needed breather and allowing the climate to recover, albeit very slightly.
Planes have virtually been brought to a halt due to the pandemic, and the lockdown has seen millions of less cars on the roads throughout the world.
Ultimately, climate change scientists believe this is letting Earth recover for a few weeks or months.
Glen Peters, Research Director at the Center for International Climate and Environment Research – Oslo, wrote in an article for The Conversation: “The International Energy Agency had already predicted oil use would drop in 2020, and this was before an oil price war emerged between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
“The unprecedented coronavirus lockdown in China led to an estimated 25 percent reduction in energy use and emissions over a two-week period compared to previous years (mostly due to a drop in electricity use, industrial production and transport).
“This is enough to shave one percentage point growth off China’s emissions in 2020. Reductions are also being observed in Italy, and are likely to spread across Europe as lockdowns become more widespread.
“The emission-intensive airline industry, covering 2.6 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions (both national and international), is in freefall.
“It may take months, if not years, for people to return to air travel given that coronavirus may linger for several seasons.
“Given these economic upheavals, it is becoming increasingly likely that global carbon dioxide emissions will drop in 2020.”
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