COVID-19: Flightradar24 and world trade

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Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

Whether solo or with friends, many Pontiac residents are talking about The Silence: roads are not as busy as the pre-pandemic “Before Times”, air traffic has practically ceased. This is unlike anything experienced in modern times. Nowadays, contrails are remarkable, triggering conversation.
Flightradar24

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

Whether solo or with friends, many Pontiac residents are talking about The Silence: roads are not as busy as the pre-pandemic “Before Times”, air traffic has practically ceased. This is unlike anything experienced in modern times. Nowadays, contrails are remarkable, triggering conversation.
Flightradar24
My techie husband Eric has the Flightradar24 flight tracking app on his phone, enabling him to see details about aircraft in flight in real-time on a detailed map. We can learn flights’ origin, destination, and identity.
Flightradar24 shatters solitude, instantaneously connecting us to global trade and travel, the Ornge air ambulance and medical helicopter transport service, and military flights out of Petawawa, such as Chinooks.
Trade routes are fascinating, and Flightradar24 also identifies the type of plane. So, while sitting on my deck north of Quyon, I’ve learned about the Antonov An-225 Mriya – the world’s largest aircraft that fly frequently between Russia and America.
World trade/travel
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) website (bit.ly/
2CxFdkf) reports on COVID-19’s (C19) impact on the airline industry–from trade and global economy through to tourism. Stats are bleak.
The World Trade Organization estimates a reduction “of global merchandise trade volume by between 13% and 32% in 2020 compared to 2019.” The International Monetary Fund and World Bank project a “negative 3% to negative 5.2% contraction in world Gross Domestic Product in 2020, far worse than during the 2008–09 financial crisis.” The United Nations World Tourism Organization predicts a “decline in international tourism receipts of between USD 910 to 1,170 billion in 2020, compared to the USD 1.5 trillion generated in 2019, with 100%
of worldwide destinations having travel restrictions.”
C19 = cleaner air
Decline in air travel due to C19 has created significant improvements in air quality.
Global News reported: “In April, international air quality technology company IQAir found significant drops in 10 world cities of fine particles, known as PM2.5 (meaning particulate matter less than 2.5 microns across, a small fraction of the width of a hair). The study showed PM2.5 down 60% in Delhi, compared to the same three-week period in 2019, and drops of 54% in Seoul, 31% in Los Angeles and 25% in New York City.” (bit.ly/2ZfloWS)
It’s not “simply” air pollution that’s lessened. Internationally, news stories report increased wildlife sightings through to improved water quality–which are sometimes linked (such as in Venice’s canals, where clear water and increased presence of fish are notable).
C19 & Online shopping
However, clever consumers keep on truckin’…literally. Our propensity to shop appears boundless. Canada Post employees with whom I’ve chatted say these
pandemic days “resemble Christmas” in parcel volume due to online shopping.
One-day delivery goals of companies such as Amazon keeps those Antonov’s
flying along with large transport trucks on our highways.
Vox reports, “Freight vehicles are responsible for nearly one-quarter of the
carbon footprint in the transportation category.” (bit.ly/31df4BH)
The same article reveals Amazon’s climate pledge, where CEO Jeff Bezos announced the company’s commitment to fighting
climate change. The goal?
By 2040, reducing carbon emissions to carbon-neutrality.
However, consumer’s demands for cheap, “instant” delivery options represent environmentally damaging pollution: air, ship, and freight.
Hidden in this equation are the mentally and physically damaging effects upon employees along the online supply chain. Vox reports truckers “peeing into bottles” so as not to stop, simply so they can deliver goods faster.
The Waiting
Yes, we can appreciate the silence of less crowded skies, roads and oceans. Mother Nature rejoices. However, lurking in our foreseeable future is the opportunity to “return to the old normal.”
Will we?
Or, will we struggle to define and embrace a kinder, greener future?
fletcher.katharine@gmail.com and view her art at facebook.com/Katharine
FletcherArtist/