I took a picture of London from the top of the North Downs in 2017 after I was so struck by the visibility of the pollution hovering over the city. Last week I stopped again at the same spot and took roughly the same photo.
What is so striking is that after only five weeks of lockdown, the dramatic drop in traffic has had such a noticeable visual effect on the air quality.
TomTom, the navigation company, has provided graphs of various cities around the world showing the change in traffic.
What a difference it would make if we could effect a change like this but without the huge downside of a pandemic.
Some cities such as Milan are already planning to reclaim some of their streets inspired by the experience of the traffic-drop. And given that social distancing is likely to be here to stay for quite some time – at least until widespread vaccines are available, others are bound to follow suit.
Wired reports that many cities around the world have already blocked off city streets to provide more open spaces for people to safely navigate.
We could of course go back to normal after the pandemic is over but as The Economist eloquently illustrated coronavirus is merely Round One; the next battle is the big one.
There have been notable examples of self-less co-operation during the coronavirus challenge, but also many examples of narrow-minded, nationalistic responses following the lead of the catastrophically inadequate President of the United States.
We can only hope the sobering example of fighting a pandemic will create real impetus for change which can create a common will to deal with the biggest global challenge of all. Fingers crossed.