Blue skies, dolphins and clear canals in Venice – the beautiful side effects of the coronavirus pandemic

Motorboat traffic has ground to a halt in Venice, and the water is beautifully clear Credit: getty
Swans in canals, dolphins at empty cruise ports and even wild boar in cobbled streets prove how fast nature can reclaim the world 

I三级成人视频t has to be said, Planet Earth would breathe a long sigh of relief if humans were to vanish. And temporarily, in many places, they have.

三级成人视频Amid the unprecedented coronavirus global lockdown, scenes worthy of a Disney film have emerged; from swans gliding through the now-clear canals of Venice to blue skies over China where the air is usually choked with smog.

'Nature has set the reset button' is one sentiment doing the rounds on social media at the moment. A welcome silver lining to an otherwise doom-filled scenario. 

Indeed, zoom out far enough and NASA's satellites have captured a dramatic drop-off in pollution over the major Chinese cities where factories have been powered down and vehicle traffic ground to a halt. 

"This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event," Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center told CNN. "I am not surprised because many cities nationwide have taken measures to minimize the spread of the virus."

Pollution over China before the mass shutdowns (left) and during it (right) Credit: nasa

These measures now extend to Europe and beyond. Jessica Carpani, one of our destination experts stationed in Italy, writes: "Milan city centre, which had previously reported one of the worst levels of atmospheric pollution in Europe, was cleaner thanks to the shutdown. It certainly seemed crisp, a world away from the grime of London Victoria Station, my usual hub. I noticed my skin felt cleaner."

Milan's Piazza Duomo yesterday Credit: getty

But perhaps no-where has the sudden absence of human traffic had such an appreciable effect quite like Venice - a city that for decades has been buckling under the weight of overtourism三级成人视频. In its green canals, the sediment usually churned up by the endless boats that plough back and forth has settled. For once, locals can see the fish beneath the surface. 

I三级成人视频talian journalist Francesco Delrio tweeted this week:

The dolphins were spotted swimming right up to the port in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. Locals say that cruise ships and other human congestion usually keep them away from the coast. Telegraph Travel's Oliver Smith wrote yesterday三级成人视频 of quiet bike rides amid prancing deer near his home in Epping Forest.

In the UK, according to the Carbon Trust, travel makes up around 33 per cent of the average British person’s carbon footprint. With a drastic drop in commuters and school runs already under way, the impact will be substantial. Similar declines are soon expected in the US, where half of all car trips are to and from work or school, and elsewhere in the world.

The same goes for air travel, as borders close and flights grounded. Europe's largest carrier Ryanair carried 152.4 million people in 2019, and produced some 10 megatonnes of CO2, according to the European Union. It stated last year that without any action, CO2 emissions from aviation are set to grow by up to 300 per cent by 2050. At least for now, coronavirus has unwittingly prompted such action: Ryanair will have halted nearly all its flights by the end of the month. The majority of other airlines in Europe and beyond - most with a much higher per-passenger carbon footprint than Ryanair - are ceasing services too.

On a smaller scale, localised catastrophes have in the past banished humans from certain sites, offering nature a chance to breathe. When Telegraph Travel's Greg Dickinson visited Fukushima - eight years after a nuclear disaster cleared the area of inhabitants - he found a landscape both derelict but hopeful.

三级成人视频"This is a place that, probably more so than anywhere else on the planet, offers a glimpse of what happens when humans leave somewhere behind and nature is free to do its thing," he wrote. "Green shoots were growing in the cracks of the pavement; plots where houses were razed after the earthquake were now waist-high with foliage; one home was entirely hidden behind a monstrous plant, creeping across its exterior walls."

S三级成人视频imilarly in Chernobyl, 30 years after the worst nuclear disaster in history resulted in a mass evacuation, wild animal and bird species are today roaming what is effectively one of Europe's biggest - if unintentional - wildlife reserves. The European lynx, previously absent, has returned to the area, as have brown bears, alongside thriving numbers of elk, deer and wolves.

Mongolian wild horses are thriving in Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone Credit: getty

Alas, coronavirus pressing pause on our destructive ways is only temporary. Already in China, the amount of nitrogen dioxide polluting China's atmosphere has jumped by nearly 50 per cent since mid-February when the virus was peaking and lockdown measures were extreme, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. 

三级成人视频A sign that the worst is over in the nation from which the disease emerged, and a ray of hope for the rest of us. As for Mother Earth, she will have to wait a while longer for the human extinction that would allow her to reclaim her health.