As the horrors of Covid-19 continue to grip every country, something interesting is happening to the climate of poor Mother Earth.
Never before has there been a shut down of human activity all over the world at the scale we are currently witnessing. And this turns out to be good for the planet, at least temporarily.
Global CO2 levels have stopped rising, pollution in China is at an all-time low, and the fish can now be seen in the waters of Venice.
This tells us we can halt climate change if we choose to and help heal our damaged planet.
In 2019, climatologists reported the highest ever level of CO2 in the earth's atmosphere. This was not good, since CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it promotes global warming. Scientists say that the last time the earth experienced a comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was three to five million years ago, based on ice core data.
Back then, the temperature was between 2°C and 3°C warmer, and sea levels were 10m to 20m higher than they are now. Hence the constant cry that we must lower CO2 emissions from fossil fuels or suffer dire consequences - consequences more dire perhaps than Covid-19 itself.
Global CO2 levels are being monitored at several stations around the world, and also by satellites.
And scientists who do the monitoring have noticed something interesting: a pause.
The biggest seasonal increase of CO2 usually happens during the cold months of the Northern Hemisphere, due to increased pollution and a decrease in plant activity. Plants are great at sucking up CO2 but they are a lot less active in the winter.
This year, it was noticed that the CO2 levels are increasing at a much slower rate than would be expected. There has been a particular slowing down over the past two months. It looks almost like the CO2 levels have stopped increasing for the time being.
The reduction of CO2 increase coincides perfectly with the spread of Covid-19 across the world. A major reason is the big decrease in the burning of coal in power stations in China. No longer are they belching out all that CO2, because of the decrease in demand.
The new data analysis by the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite (remember, other types of science are still going on) also reveals significant changes in the air pollution across China. Data analysis between late December and mid-March showed a significant decline in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions during China's national lockdown in January and February.
NO2 is another noxious pollutant and levels remain much lower than before the outbreak. NO2 actually damages people's lungs and so the decrease may help people with respiratory diseases like asthma and maybe even Covid-19.
This is also being observed in Italy. The complete lockdown nationwide has lead to a significant decline in NO2 across northern Italy.
Perhaps even more impressively, the waters of Venice are improving, too. People there are describing a surprising sight: a clear view of the sandy beds of rivers in Venice, but also shoals of fish, crabs and beautiful plant life growing again. One reason is the decrease in motored boats ferrying tourists around, and also the lack of cruise ships, which pollute and churn up the sea bed, causing damage.
The water is now clear, because a lot less mud is being churned up. Cormorants are diving for fish they can now see. Ducks are making nests. Someone even put up a sign: "Don't tread on the duck eggs."
People are saying nature has returned to take back the city. Some say that it's an opportunity to be more organised in the future to find a balance between the city and tourism.
Maybe what's happening will give us a wake-up call that we can change things for the better when it comes to the earth's climate.
One thing is for sure: the earth will be a different place in so many ways when we come out of this pandemic.
And that might include a renewed focus on climate change, which remains a huge concern for all of us.