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We can see Venus now the clouds have gone… Posted On 08 April 2020

Lockdown lights path to brighter days

These are dark days for our communities. Fear dogs our daily lives, with the bleak daily updates of coronavirus’ vice-like grip turning our accepted routines upside down and shrouds them in clouds of anxiety. Yet there is light at the end of the tunnel; with heavy emphasis on the word light.

Because not only has British Summer Time made it lighter in the evening, COVID-19 has ensured it is also brighter in the morning… in the middle of the day… and in the afternoon.

If there is a silver lining to be had from this crisis it can be found in the air or, to be precise, the quality of air. The by-product of the Government’s enforced lockdown is that stay-at-home workers and shoppers have contributed to a significant decrease in traffic on the roads. And with major airlines suspending 80 per cent of their flights, there is a marked absence of jet contrails criss-crossing our skies.

Which has brought a drastic reduction in air pollution.

The scale of the unintended atmospheric clean-up operation was revealed by satellite data released by the European Space Agency. It shows a 40 per cent dip in nitrogen dioxide across Europe, with the persistent high-level haze hovering over highly-populated urban areas – largely caused by jet exhaust fumes and blocking almost 16 per cent of sunlight – almost eradicated.

For those who love to look up, this scrubbing of the atmosphere has coincided with frosty nights and this rare clarity has allowed city dwellers the chance to see a super-bright Venus, generally obscured by minute soot particles, and should provide crystal-clear views of this week’s super-moon, often known as the Pink Moon after one of the first flowers to bloom in spring, the Wild Ground Phlox or moss pink .

And the lack of man-made movement in the skies has helped create something of a phenomenon under water in Venice, where lockdown and the absence of tourists has contributed to the normally murky waters of the world-famous canal system becoming clearer as the heavily churned sediment settles. There are even reports that fish have been spotted in the Grand Canal.

Nature has also been reclaiming the streets in Britain, or to be precise Llandudno, where a herd of goats have been spotted wandering quarantined areas normally clogged with cars and visitors to the north Wales resort.

However, one of the main advantages of the lack of human movement may not be felt until temperatures start to rise… and its good news for the humble bee, a long-time victim of lead pollution.

They may find their jobs a little easier as they zip around flower beds as there will be a marked absence of fine particles to interfere with their sense of smell as they search for flowers heavenly swollen with pollen.

And with the bee’s pollenating service worth a staggering £690million a year to the UK economy – or, if you like, contributing to one in three mouthfuls of food we consume – that is nothing to be sneezed at.

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