Some scientists see an upside for planet Earth from the COVID pandemic. Really!? Alastair and Clarisse explain this weird idea for kids.
Transcription podcast – March 17, 2020
Hello and welcome to WoW!, the positive podcast, listening to kids and showing them that there’s a lot more to our world than bad news.
I’m Alastair and I’m with Clarisse to bring you our latest story to help you understand some of the complicated stuff that’s going on right now.
C – Hi Alastair! Life is pretty strange here in Europe, right now, no? Lots of us are stuck at home, a lot of schools are closed. It’s weird!
A – You can say that again, Clarisse. Hi. Yes, lots of countries in Europe have closed their schools this week. I guess many of our listeners are tuning in and are still getting used to the idea of everyone being at home in the middle of the week. Of course, it’s for everyone’s good. We really need to keep our distance from each other so that this bug doesn’t spread around so fast. As long as we do that, we should get through this thing fine – but it may take a while.
C – Ah, this COVID19 really is doing us no good at all,,,
A – Well, you say that Clarisse, but did you know that there are some scientists out there saying that actually the corona virus could be saving lives.
C – Saving lives ? But how ?
A – Well, it’s complicated. But listen up. Of course the virus is making loads of people sick. And even if nearly everyone who gets it has been getting better, especially children, it’s still a bad thing. But sometimes bad things can have positive side effects that we don’t expect. In this case, the air has got a lot cleaner in China, where the corona virus started out, and it’s now cleaner in Italy, where it started first to have a big effect in Europe. It’s that clean air that scientists say is a big bonus for our health.
C – Hm OK. But I guess it’s not that the virus is cleaning the air by magic?
A – No, of course. That’s not it. The air’s got cleaner because of the way the Chinese government – and later the Italian government and now other countries have reacted. They told people to stay at home. And boom. Suddenly hardly any cars, buses and trucks on the streets, belching out pollution. And lots of factories have had to close too. All that has meant a huge drop in nasty particles in the air that irritate our lungs and can mean real problems for lots of people. The drop is so big you can see it from space – in a manner of speaking. If you’ve signed up to My WoW! Time, our positive news bulletin for kids, you can see satellite pictures showing China before and after the virus outbreak. Before, cloaked in dirty air. After, amazingly clean.
C – So if people stay at home for weeks, this could make a big difference?
A – Well, it takes a bit of fancy arithmetic to get any kind of answer. But one scientist at Stanford University in California has just calculated that in China alone about 77,000 lives may have been saved by cleaner air for a couple of months.
C – Gosh, that’s a lot more than the people who died from the virus ?
A – Yeees… We have to remember that it’s not quite the same thing. We know who has died from the virus. It’s a real event. We don’t know who, if anyone, didn’t die because the air was cleaner. That number of lives saved is based on a kind of maths called statistics. We know that dirty air breathed by millions of people means some of them live shorter lives than they would if they had clean air. We can’t point to many people, if any, who “died of pollution”, in the way we can say someone died of the corona virus. But what Marshall Burke – the American scientist from Stanford who gave us the number of 77,000 lives saved – really wants to say is that, hey, maybe we should be learning some lessons from this time when we are forced to stop travelling so much and have to shut down factories.
C – He’s saying we should live like this forever?
A – No he’s not saying that. But it’s definitely interesting to think of how bad it is for all of our health that we make the air in our cities so dirty. So what do you think, Clarisse ? Should we try and clean up our air for good?
C – It certainly sounds like it’s worth trying!
A – Tell you what, let’s ask our listeners. You guys out there, check out our web site, www.wow-news.com and get in touch if you’ve got ideas for how we should clean up our air. We’ve got the time, now that we’re not charging about the place and are sitting at home. So get your thinking caps on and drop us a line or a drawing or leave us an audio message with ideas or questions.
We’ll be back soon with more positive news. Meanwhile keep safe, keep positive, and we’ll be back with more good news soon.