Before you do anything else, watch this stunning program with Neil deGrasse Tyson interviewing Katharine Hayhoe…



The Coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic is having at least one positive effect on the planet: it reduced pollution and carbon emissions, but the reductions were not even close to enough, and they were temporary. Not only temporary, but the result of economic hardship and contractions that many hope will soon come to an end. Once they do, carbon emissions could resume at record levels.

Greenhouse gas emissions dropped 6.4% percent in 2020 because of the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, with 13% being attributed to the U.S., compared with an average increase of 1.4 percent every year from 2010 to 2019.

In the Spring of 2020, the effects of the pandemic were immediate and astonishing. Skies cleared across areas of China usually beset by smog and air pollution. CO2 emissions in China declined 25 percent in the last week of February, for example. Meanwhile, scientists across the globe are tracking and quantifying meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases and carbon emissions due to the pandemic across Europe and North America. One unfortunate consequence came to light as oil prices dropped significantly — causing the price of making “virgin” plastic cheaper than using “recycled” plastic.

The direct link between the worldwide economy and CO2, and greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution is nothing new. The last time emissions and pollution came close to flat-lining was during the last economic crisis in 2008-2009.

The good news is that this time, as then, leading scientists hailed the news as clear evidence that it is within humanity’s power to reduce worldwide carbon emissions. But economic crises are not how we want to combat climate change and, anyway, once this coronavirus crisis is contained, the world’s carbon-emitting economic engines are sure to crank up, offsetting the short-term CO2 emissions reductions. Observers also point out that the crisis will drain key government and private sector resources that are needed to make the transformation to sustainable and clean energy, while the falling costs of oil and other fossil fuels will doubtless discourage investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and, instead, encourage the use of carbon-spewing oil and gas.

You might want to listen to Bill Gates in his TED talk on the subject, hosted by TED’s curator-in-chief, Chris Anderson, and current affairs curator, Whitney Pennington Rodgers, recorded March 24, 2020. And, if you have kids, here is a project for kids to take action and influence congress in supporting clean energy and climate justice initiatives as legislation moves through the government in response to Covid-19.

The hardships of the pandemic and the rise of populism, seeking to sow doubt about the seriousness of global warming and the role of human activity in causing it, has led to dozens of climate rules being rolled back during COVID-19.

The conclusion of a report published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration takes the position that the current pandemic is a dress rehearsal for climate change. In other words, many policy makers and scientists are now both lamenting and stressing that the pandemic clearly shows that only through tough government intervention will carbon emissions be cut at the rate needed to stop the warming of the planet.

Governments are moving “faster than we ever were,” the lead 2015 Paris Agreement negotiator, Christiana Figueres, told the New York Times at the end of 2020. But the world as a whole remains dangerously behind schedule in slowing catastrophic climate change, according to a United Nations report released at the end of the year.



Coronavirus shows the limits of what personal choice can do for the climate

Coronavirus shutdowns have sent greenhouse gas emissions off a cliff. Early estimates project global emissions will decline by 5% to 8% by the end of the year—which might seem like a win for the climate.

COVID-19 climate lessons

Unprepared for a pandemic, can the world learn how to manage the bigger threat of climate disruption?

Global resilience system

The Global Resilience System (GRS) is a rapidly growing global aggregation of nested Resilience Systems (e.g., US Resilience System, Haiti Resilience System, Vietnam Resilience System, Japan Resilience System and their nested subsystems). These Resilience Systems…

10 ways coronavirus is changing energy and climate change

The novel coronavirus, upending our world as we know it, is also changing how we consume energy and address climate change.

Coronavirus, climate change, and the environment

A conversation on COVID-19 with the director of Harvard University's Center of Climate, Health and the Global Environment.


Global electric power demand returns to pre-pandemic levels

By Steven Mufson   08/25/21  
Carbon dioxide emissions from the global electric power sector rebounded in the first half of 2021 to above pre-pandemic levels, according to an analysis, signaling that the world has failed to engineer a “green recovery”…

The pandemic slashed the West Coast’s emissions. Wildfires already reversed it.

By James Temple   07/27/21  
Wildfires raging across the US West Coast have filled the air with enough carbon dioxide to wipe out more than half of the region’s pandemic-driven emissions reductions last year. And that was just in July.…

The Revenge of the Cars

By Doug Gordon   07/26/21  
It would be callous to suggest that in the dark, early, and deadly days of the Covid-19 pandemic there were bright spots or signs of hope. But thinking back to the spring of 2020, it’s…

In 2020, the United States produced the least CO2 emissions from energy in nearly 40 years

By Brett Marohl   07/26/21  
In 2020, as the country responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, CO2 emissions from energy consumption in the United States fell to the lowest level since 1983. The 4.6 billion metric tons (Bmt) of CO2 emitted in 2020…

Study: Wildfire smoke may add to COVID-19 risk

By Sam Metz   07/20/21  
 Nevada-based scientists argue in a new study that wildfire smoke may increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Trillions of dollars spent on Covid recovery in ways that harm environment

By Fiona Harvey   07/15/21  
Trillions of dollars poured into rescuing economies around the world from the Covid-19 crisis have been spent in ways that worsen the climate crisis and harm nature because governments have failed to fulfil promises of…

UN chief urges G20 finance chiefs to support global COVID vaccine plan, climate finance

“To restore trust in multilateralism, we need to deliver on vaccines, economic recovery and climate finance”, he said in a video message to G20 finance ministers meeting in Venice, Italy.  “With your leadership and political…

Sustainable development report shows devastating impact of COVID, ahead of ‘critical’ new phase

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, launched on Tuesday at UN Headquarters in New York, shows the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the 2030 Agenda, as the landmark annual High-Level Political Forum…

COVID-19’s socio-economic fallout threatens global coffee industry, study finds

COVID-19's socio-economic effects will likely cause another severe production crisis in the coffee industry, according to a Rutgers University-led study. The study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, included…

“Back to normal” puts us back on the path to climate catastrophe

By Rebecca Leber   06/15/21  
The Covid-19 pandemic upended daily life so drastically that there was a moment when it seemed to be making a dent in the climate crisis. Rush-hour traffic disappeared, global travel slowed to a crawl, and…

Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere Hits Record High Despite Pandemic Dip

By Brad Plumer   06/07/21  
The amount of carbon dioxide piling up in Earth’s atmosphere set a record last month, once again reaching the highest levels in human history despite a temporary dip in the burning of fossil fuels worldwide…

Earth Is Barreling Toward 1.5 Degrees Celsius Of Warming, Scientists Warn

By Rebecca Hersher   05/26/21  
The average temperature on Earth is now consistently 1 degree Celsius hotter than it was in the late 1800s, and that temperature will keep rising toward the critical 1.5-degree Celsius benchmark over the next five…

Jane Goodall on Covid, Resilience and Climate Change

By Sarah Green Carmichael   05/25/21  
Jane Goodall, renowned conservationist and winner of this year’s Templeton Prize, has been a pioneer when it comes to respecting nature and animals. Has the pandemic changed her perspective at all? Goodall joined me for a live…

Business travel has disappeared. Will it ever come back?

By Will Godley and Charles Riley   05/17/21  
For countless executives and salespeople, business trips have been a bedrock of corporate life — loathed by some, loved by others but accepted by all as a necessity (sweetened by millions of frequent flyer miles).…

Climate and COVID-19 crises both need feminism – here’s why

By Farhana Sultana   05/16/21  
People all over the world are reeling from the one-two punch of climate change and COVID-19. The overlapping crises are exposing and intensifying patterns of disadvantage, marginalization and inequality for vulnerable people including the poor,…

What Covid and Climate Really Had in Common Was Climate Denial

By Amy Westervelt   05/16/21  
As we have often lamented at Hot Take, climate coverage fell off a cliff when Covid first took hold in the U.S.. At the same time,  healthcare reporters got their first taste of what climate…

Smog City: The Fight Against Urban Air Pollution

By Niall Patrick Walsh   05/13/21  
Around the world, cities and citizens continue to suffer from the effects of air pollution. While the COVID-19 pandemic ironically led to a temporary improvement in urban air quality, the status quo for the air…

The use of renewable energy is accelerating

Global energy demand tumbled by 4% in 2020, as flights were grounded, factories idled and commuters locked down at home. One part of the world’s electricity markets, however, continued to grow. Renewable-energy generation grew at…

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the climate? Curious Texas investigates

By Nataly Keomoungkhoun   05/07/21  
When the pandemic took hold, it affected nearly every industry as countries around the world closed their borders to prevent the spread of the virus. Businesses shuttered, domestic and international travel came to a halt,…

How to fight climate change at home

By Megan Barber   04/22/21  
While a global pandemic may have put life (as we know it) on hold—and cleared the air temporarily amid widespread lockdowns—it hasn’t exactly stopped the looming climate crisis. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of…

How COVID-19 has changed the face of the natural world

By Jennifer Huizen   04/22/21  
How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the natural environment? Have the numerous national lockdowns had a positive or negative effect on wildlife? In this Special Feature, we answer these and other related questions.

Coronavirus Economic Recovery to Drive Second-Highest CO2 Emissions Jump on Record, IEA Warns

By Olivia Rosane   04/20/21  
One of the silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic was the record drop in greenhouse gas emissions following national lockdowns. But that drop is set to all but reverse as economies begin to recover, the…

Fossil Fuel Companies Took Billions in U.S. Coronavirus Relief Funds but Still Cut Nearly 60,000 Jobs

By Nicholas Kusnetz   04/02/21  
When Congress looked to prop up a tanking economy and stanch its hemorrhaging of employment as the pandemic spread last year, the oil industry was among those that sought relief.

The complex debate over how to equitably distribute the different vaccines

By Jillian Kramer   03/27/21  
As the first four million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine shipped in March throughout the United States, experts lauded qualities that make it more practical: Unlike its mRNA predecessors, this vaccine doesn’t require…

The coronavirus is airborne

By Chris Mooney   02/10/21  
With its five wall-length windows, Nick Crandall’s restaurant, Railroad Pub & Pizza, can bring in a lot of outside air. In late December, though, Washington state regulators said the restaurant could not qualify as “outdoor”…

Coal-Fired Power Took a Beating During the Pandemic, Study Finds

By Veronica Penney   02/08/21  
The share of energy generated from coal has dropped more sharply during the coronavirus pandemic than that of any other power source, according to a new report on Monday that looked at coal demand in some of…

COVID-19 lockdowns temporarily raised global temperatures

By David Hosansky   02/02/21  
The lockdowns and reduced societal activity related to the COVID-19 pandemic affected emissions of pollutants in ways that slightly warmed the planet for several months last year, according to a new study by the National…

Back of the Line

By Adam Mahoney   02/01/21  
Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood sits on a scant 4 square miles on the southwest side of the city, but it packs a lot into that modest footprint. With a population density similar to New York…

Covid-19 Kept Tourists Away. Why Did These Seabirds Miss Them?

By Cara Giaimo   01/22/21  
When tourists come to Stora Karlso, a limestone-ledged nature reserve off the coast of Sweden, they keep a respectful distance from the many seabirds that call the island home. Like most visitors to wild places,…

Covid-19 Took a Bite From U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2020

By Brad Plumer   01/12/21  
America’s greenhouse gas emissions from energy and industry plummeted more than 10 percent in 2020, reaching their lowest levels in at least three decades as the coronavirus pandemic slammed the brakes on the nation’s economy,…

Here’s What We Learned From The Pandemic, According To 10 Experts

By Laura Paddison and Amanda Schupak   01/04/21  
In the most painful way, pandemics show us what we need to fix in our world. The stress they cause reveals all those parts that most need repair. With COVID, we have seen how festering…

‘A Slap in the Face’: The Pandemic Disrupts Young Oil Careers

By Clifford Krauss   01/03/21  
Sabrina Burns, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, had thought she would be launching a lucrative career in the oil and gas industry when she graduated in a few months.  But the…

Covid-19 and Climate Change Will Remain Inextricably Linked, Thanks to the Parallels (and the Denial)

By Ilana Cohen   01/01/21  
Whether or not people accept the science on Covid-19 and climate change, both global crises will have lasting impacts on health and quality of life, especially for the diverse and low-income communities they’ve already hit…

The Top Energy Stories Of 2020

by Robert Rapier   12/27/20  
Some years there is an energy story so big that there’s no question it belongs at the top of the list. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. …

Congress might pass a huge energy bill, and it’s actually pretty great

by David Roberts   12/23/20  
Some years there is an energy story so big that there’s no question it belongs at the top of the list. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. …

Climate Change Legislation Included in Coronavirus Relief Deal

By Coral Davenport   12/21/20  
In the waning days of the 116th Congress, lawmakers have authorized $35 billion in spending on wind, solar and other clean power sources while curtailing the use of a potent planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners…

Can we see the impact of COVID-19 confinement measures on CO2 levels in the atmosphere?

Average daily CO2 emissions from 5 February to 6 May 2020 (red area) and average of the previous years during the same period (grey area) for three European cities.

Prisons Faulted As Virus Surge Exposes Flaws

By Anita Chabria and Richard Winton   12/01/20  
Within a substance abuse treatment facility in the state prison system in Kings County, David Kosen spent nearly five weeks on a hunger strike and the California Orthodontic Rehabilitation Department considers it indifferent and incompetent…

Carbon dioxide levels continue at record levels, despite COVID-19 lockdown

The lockdown has cut emissions of many pollutants and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. But any impact on CO2 concentrations - the result of cumulative past and current emissions - is in fact no bigger…

Pandemic points to needed cooperation on the climate crisis

By Drew Shindell and Jim Warren   10/15/20  
In a time of multiple and unprecedented challenges to individuals and societal well-being, our nation badly needs to pull back from the growing acrimony that plagues us and revisit our many shared values.

Iowa Climate Statement draws on lessons from COVID-19 pandemic

By Rebecca Kopelman   10/07/20  
Over two hundreds scientists are putting up a united front on climate change. The University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research released the Iowa Climate Statement today.

The Plastic Pandemic: COVID-19 trashed the recycling dream

By Joe Brock   10/05/20  
Recyclers struggle as oil world invests hundreds of billions to make new plastic.

Climate Change and COVID-19: the Denial Playbook is the Same

By Augusta Wilson   07/30/20  
The Trump administration has responded to COVID-19 using tactics it honed in the climate arena: ignoring or burying scientific information, pushing misinformation, and silencing scientists who warn us of the dangers.

GOP Climate Change Denial Set The Stage For Trump’s Coronavirus Conspiracies

By Amanda Terkel   07/27/20  
The right has perfected the art of misinformation and science skepticism over the years.

How Covid-19 Made it Easier to Talk About Climate Change

By Emma Goldberg   07/24/20  
“It’s actually easier in a lot of ways to talk about climate change now.”

2020 Is The Worst Year Ever For Fossil Fuels

By Angus Harvey   07/17/20  
The last few years haven’t been easy for coal, gas and oil companies. They’ve come under growing pressure from climate activism and divestment campaigns, and the rapid growth of cheaper alternatives. COVID-19 however, has put…

Pandemic shows climate has never been treated as crisis, say scientists

By Matthew Taylor   07/16/20  
Letter also signed by Greta Thunberg urges EU leaders to act immediately on global heatingGreta Thunberg and some of the world’s leading climate scientists have written to EU leaders demanding they act immediately to avoid…

2020 Is Our Last, Best Chance to Save the Planet

By Justin Worland   07/09/20  
From our vantage point today, 2020 looks like the year when an unknown virus spun out of control, killed hundreds of thousands and altered the way we live day to day.

Pandemic’s Cleaner Air Could Reshape What We Know About the Atmosphere

By Coral Davenport   06/25/20  
In the crystalline air of the pandemic economy, climate change researchers have been flying a small plane over Route I-95, from Boston to Washington, measuring carbon dioxide levels. Scientists have mounted air quality monitors on…

UK public ‘supports green recovery from coronavirus crisis’

By Fiona Harvey   06/23/20  
People would be prepared to continue many of the lifestyle changes enforced by the coronavirus lockdown to help tackle the climate emergency, and the government would have broad support for a green economic recovery from…