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Nature Sustainability ; 2022.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-1788321


Minority communities in the United States often experience higher-than-average exposures to air pollution. However, the relative contribution of institutional biases to these disparities can be difficult to disentangle from other factors. Here, we use the economic shutdown associated with the 2020 COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders to causally estimate pollution exposure disparities caused by the in-person economy in California. Using public and citizen-science ground-based monitor networks for respirable particulate matter, along with satellite records of nitrogen dioxide, we show that sheltering in place produced disproportionate air pollution reductions for non-White (especially Hispanic and Asian) and low-income communities. We demonstrate that these racial and ethnic effects cannot be explained by weather patterns, geography, income or local economic activity as measured by local changes in mobility. They are instead driven by regional economic activity, which produces local harms for diffuse economic benefits. This study thus provides indirect, yet substantial, evidence of systemic racial and ethnic bias in the generation and control of pollution from the portion of the economy most impacted in the early pandemic period. © 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

Nature Reviews Earth & Environment ; 1(9):470-481, 2020.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-1253996


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused substantial global impact. This Perspective provides insight into the environmental effects of the pandemic, documenting how it offers an opportunity to better understand the Earth System. Restrictions to reduce human interaction have helped to avoid greater suffering and death from the COVID-19 pandemic, but have also created socioeconomic hardship. This disruption is unprecedented in the modern era of global observing networks, pervasive sensing and large-scale tracking of human mobility and behaviour, creating a unique test bed for understanding the Earth System. In this Perspective, we hypothesize the immediate and long-term Earth System responses to COVID-19 along two multidisciplinary cascades: energy, emissions, climate and air quality;and poverty, globalization, food and biodiversity. While short-term impacts are dominated by direct effects arising from reduced human activity, longer-lasting impacts are likely to result from cascading effects of the economic recession on global poverty, green investment and human behaviour. These impacts offer the opportunity for novel insight, particularly with the careful deployment of targeted data collection, coordinated model experiments and solution-oriented randomized controlled trials, during and after the pandemic.