During the spring of 2010, flights were grounded by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull. What followed was unusually pleasant weather in the UK. Fast forward to the lockdown period of spring 2020, charactertised by clear skies and the driest May on record.
The Coronavirus lockdown was an unintended geophysical experiment that has helped to show what a future without burning fossil fuels might be like. For the UK it might mean clearer skies and warmer daytime temperatures, and it would certainly mean lower rates of lung disease and cleaner air. Will we learn a lesson as society – faced with the prospect of this new normal – or will we go back to business as usual?
James Baldini is Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University.
New Ideas for the New Normal is a series of newly commissioned video essays from leading researchers and academics at Durham University. Each ten–minute piece considers how we might live now in a post-pandemic world, offering hope and fresh new ideas across a range of disciplines.