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Italy Travel Ideas

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Coronavirus Exposes Open Ports to Africa Danger

Non-governmental organisation (NGO) ship transporting African migrants to Italy

By Enza Ferreri

This article was published in Italy Travel Ideas and is our second post on the subject, here's the first on Coronavirus and Italy.

Italian physician and psychiatrist Alessandro Meluzzi rightly described as paradoxical Italy's current policy of "closed schools and open ports", letting in migrants at such a time of emergency for Coronavirus (whose official name, which initially and temporarily was 2019-nCoV, has from early February become Sars-CoV-2, also adopted by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), while the disease it causes is called COVID-19).

If we don't close our borders others close theirs, Dr Meluzzi added.

This happened, in fact, and China itself was among the countries isolating Italy.

Dr Meluzzi was making correct predictions as early as 31 January, when he said in an interview:

"My feeling is that the Italian situation is already totally out of control".

He added that he considered with great concern the hypothesis of the spread of Coronavirus on the African continent:

"When the virus arrives in Africa, where countries do not have adequate health coverage to deal with the epidemic, this could spread in a potentially catastrophic way".

He referred to the great number of Chinese workers and companies in Africa, "which create a large flow of trade with China, especially with the industrial area from which the epidemic originated", concluding: "I dare not imagine what could happen in Africa."

From China to Europe via Africa

The African "bomb" became a later alarm about Coronavirus and its further spread in the world.

There are two factors that greatly elevate the potential risk of contagion: one is the thriving trade relations between China and Africa, the other is the uncontrolled immigration that from Africa regularly arrives in European countries overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, particularly Italy.

Let's be frank: when we say "uncontrolled", it is very literal. We know nothing of many, indeed probably the great majority, of people landing on our shores from smugglers' boats and NGO ships, since they have no documents or false documents. In a very high number of cases we don't even know their name, let alone their past history, criminal record and health status. The newspaper Il Giornale wrote:
Italy hosts immigrants at its own expense without having the slightest idea who they are. To know their stories, we rely on the stories given by them in front of the various commissions.

For their personal identities, we are satisfied with having them put their name and surname in writing the moment they disembark...

In Italy, in fact, thousands of people arrive who can carry with them cell phones but never a shred of an identification document.

Hardly Any of the Arrivals Are Refugees

There have been cases of fake refugees who disclosed to the media that they paid thousands of euros to obtain ways to claim asylum status.

For a long time Italy has been literally overwhelmed by would-be asylum seekers and migrants. A Nigerian interpreter and "cultural mediator", calling himself Uchenna, has explained how it works:
To judge asylum seekers there should be 4 people for each commission [called 'territorial commission'], who include representatives for the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency), Italian police and local authorities. Now, there are only 1 or 2 left to follow the interview because there are several organisational problems... so many requests arrive that if they were all present at each interview, it would never end. The system is practically collapsing.
This means that in some cases the waiting times for obtaining the opinion of the commission can be extremely long. Meanwhile, Italy hosts many immigrants at its own expense, who will then never obtain refugee status. And they are a very high number. Says Uchenna: "The majority of those who are arriving on the Italian coast from Nigeria certainly do not run away from dangers: they are looking for money and success to be able to return home one day and strut the wealth achieved".

He explained that to do this, therefore, many times they invent stories of suffering and persecutions that they have never undergone: "I often hear the same identical story told by different immigrants".

Asked why everyone coming to Italy on the migrants' boats is undocumented, the interpreter answered: "Those who land in Italy say they never had a document or lost it in Libya. In Nigeria, falsifying documents and changing identity several times is normal. They do the same during recognition in Lampedusa".

But in Italy, he says, the 'poor thing' rule applies, explaining: "In the commissions we hear them say of every tale: 'Oh, what a poor man'. Yet these people often only tell lies."

Migrants, particularly those who seek asylum under false pretence, are also known for cutting, abrading and burning their fingertips to prevent identification.

Anna Bono, former University of Turin researcher in Africa's History and Institutions, who has long lived in Africa and has worked with the Italian Foreign Ministry, sums up the situation:
We now know with certainty that 95% of the foreigners who land in Italy are not refugees: they are not people exhausted from extreme poverty, they are not people who have escaped death threats, torture, deprivation of human rights.

They come from southern Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast ... they are illegal immigrants. In 2016, 181,045 arrived, 123,482 of whom applied for asylum. The territorial commissions examined 90,473 requests, accepting 4,940 of them, namely 5.4% of the applications examined, 3.9% of those submitted and 2.7% of the total landings.
Prof Bono says that the vast majority of asylum seekers do not get asylum because they are not persecuted at home, nor are they fleeing wars.

However, not all applicants rejected over the years have left Italy. Many of both fake asylum seekers and illegal immigrants remained in Italy, escaping the control of the authorities and often disappearing. With the "residence permit for humanitarian reasons" many have been allowed to live in Italy in hiding, doing illegal jobs or illegal activities.

Therefore it's not surprising to know that 1 in 3 inmates in Italian prisons is foreign. This gives some indication of a serious problem of security in the country, a danger that has been in existence for a long time.

Yet again, it should come as no surprise that people with no official identity, no ties with the larger community that hosts them, generally no family (they are mostly young men of military age) and few opportunities for legal jobs should be enormously overrepresented in crime statistics.

Incidentally, this statistic is similar in other European countries. In Germany, for example, as reported by Free West Media: "In a sample of the 3930 prison population of Berlin 31 March 2018, 51 percent had no German citizenship. Of the individuals in pre-trial detention facilities, 75 percent had foreign nationality, the Berliner Morgenpost reported."

The epidemic of the new virus simply adds to this grave risk, and, paradoxically, it seems almost to offer an opportunity to examine it.

It's terrible, though: it shouldn't have been necessary to face a dangerous epidemic to be allowed to more openly discuss it.

We must also mention a well-known illegal trafficking of identity documents among immigrants across various European countries, including Italy, Germany, Greece, involving even people who have been recognised as refugees.

This Migration Phenomenon Is Not Good for African Countries Either

As we've described in this previous article “Young People, Don’t Emigrate” Say African Bishops, Italy, with 1 in 3 youths unemployed, has nothing to offer to migrants. African Cardinals and Bishops themselves have repeatedly and constantly exhorted their flocks to stay at home and help their countries.

Those who emigrate are usually the best equipped and qualified to help their own economies. They are richer, otherwise they wouldn't be able to pay the expensive people smugglers, younger, stronger, more skilled, with more initiative than the rest of their population that they leave behind.

And no-one in his right mind can seriously think that Africa's poverty problems - which have nevertheless diminished over the last few decades - can be solved by transferring the 1.2 billion Africans (rapidly increasing as we are counting) to the continent of Europe, the world's smallest.

And why don't we ever hear the same people who, for self-declared humanitarian reasons, worry so much about illegal immigrants equally condemn the most atrocious persecution of Christians all over the world? Why don't they beat their chest, similarly, for those Italians who commit suicide because their business failed and they can't support their families? While Italy is paying to host and keep thousands and thousands of fake refugees and illegal immigrants, what about the Italians who also need help?

The series of articles on Italy and Coronavirus continues.

Stop Censura
Researchgate: Fingerprint Alteration
Il Giornale: Gli immigrati raccontano bugie
Dei profughi non sappiamo nulla
La NuovaBQ: Io, falsa rifugiata
Un detenuto su tre e' straniero
Free West Media
Traffico di identita'

Il Primato Nazionale

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Italy: Racism Fear Stops Coronavirus Vital Quarantine

Coronavirus mask worn in an airport

By Enza Ferreri

This article was published in Italy Travel Ideas

Italy has been one of the world's most affected countries for the number of infections caused by the novel coronavirus.

Walter Ricciardi, Italy's representative at the World Health Organization and Professor of Hygiene and Public Health at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome, very clearly stated: "We [Italy] pay the consequences of not having immediately quarantined people who landed from China. We banned direct flights, a decision that has no scientific basis, and which did not allow us to trace the arrivals, because people were able to stop over and arrive from other places."

Professor Ricciardi was referring to the possibility left open to travellers of, for example, taking a flight from Beijing to Dubai, changing tickets and then heading to Rome or Milan.

Another authority on the subject, famous virologist Roberto Burioni, as early as 7 February was writing:

"The virus in China might be out of control, but it is not here yet. The only chance we have for not letting it in is only, and I repeat only, the quarantine of those who return. All, without distinction. It is not racism, but a simple and elementary measure of self-protection, which costs a little discomfort to the people who are isolated and provides us with infinite security, while avoiding hateful and unnecessary discrimination."

Dr Burioni later declared in an interview to Il Corriere della Sera:
Oh, I know, they called me an alarmist, even a fascist leghista [supporter of the centre-right Lega party], because from the beginning I claimed that isolating people from China was the only effective way to avoid the spread of the virus. I stress: people, not Chinese.
As you may have already noticed, the political climate in Italy has over time become excessively, paranoidly fixated against any supposed "fascism" or "racism", even when there is none, to the point of neglecting basic considerations of, as in this case, health and self-preservation.

Something similar happened in many other Western countries: see the example of the street distribution in Canada of bottles of hand sanitiser bearing the message 'Stop the Spread', referring not to Coronavirus but to xenophobia and intolerance. However, such attitudes of "the stigma is worse than the virus" in Italy have had more devastating consequences, due to the actions of the current government, which has been described as "the most unfit in the history of the Italian Republic".

On 31 January, the day after two Chinese tourists who had arrived from Wuhan to Milan Malpensa Airport were discovered as Italy's first two cases of the virus, the leader of the Lega party himself, Matteo Salvini, wrote on Twitter:

"Let me understand … The first two cases of Coronavirus in Italy apparently have quietly landed at Malpensa on 23 January and, without any control, travelled for days across half of Italy, until checking into a hotel in the centre of Rome.

"Is this how the government protects the health and safety of Italians? The Lega for days has been calling for quarantines, checks, blocks and information, but for Leftist politicians and journalists we were 'speculators' and jackals. Let us pray to God that there will be no disaster, but whoever has done wrong must pay."

He also tweeted: “Check every single entry. By sea, by air, by land. While other countries took immediate action, in Italy there was the impression that someone has been wasting time. And you can't play with the health of citizens."

Salvini's words, like Dr Burioni's, were welcomed by insults as well as totally ignored by the government.

Instead, a much more reasonable response came from a Chinese in self-isolation, married and mother-of-three Xia Weihong, 48: the Lega is right, she said to the Libero newspaper.

Italy's Centre-Left government was busy in fighting not an all-too-real virus but an imaginary risk of anti-Chinese racism, as if the highly-justified fear of contagion had been a symptom of dangerous xenophobia.

So we saw the President of the Republic Mattarella visiting a Rome's school attended by Chinese children to show his solidarity; initiatives like "embrace a Chinese" launched by Florence mayor Nardella; politicians and media people eating spring rolls in Chinese restaurants.

Except that, when a few cases of the virus were found in some parts of northern Italy, none of these personages went to embrace inhabitants of the Italian affected area.

Other posts on the subject will follow.

La Stampa
Medical Facts of Dr Roberto Burioni
Il Corriere della Sera
Malpensa 24
Matteo Salvini tweets
Canadian Hand Sanitiser

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Debunking Debunkers: Global Disinformation Index (GDI)

Global Disinformation Index

A useful exercise is to debunk the debunkers. I've done it before with the UK's fact-checker Full Fact .

It's particularly important in this coronavirus climate of frantic "fact-checking" and "information-correcting".

An article recently published on the website of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) is about a physicist, Danny Rogers, who has co-founded and is Chief Technical Officer of the Global Disinformation Index, with the noble purpose of saving the internet from lies, errors, fake news and what have you.

The first disinformation service he should perform is against some of his own claims during the interview, for example: "QAnon has led to people’s deaths."

This is a wide and sweeping generalisation with no basis in reality. If it refers, as the only tenuous link, to the murder of alleged mob boss Frank Cali by Anthony Comello in March 2019, it is highly flimsy.

Apparently on the advice of his lawyer Robert Gottlieb, Comello pleaded not guilty, since Gottlieb is trying to defend his client as not guilty due to mental defect.

According to documents obtained by the New York Times, Comello wanted to perform a citizen’s arrest on Cali to help Trump, as he believed the Gambino crime family's presumed boss was part of the deep state and that he "was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself" to place Cali under citizen's arrest. When Cali didn’t comply, the documents say, Comello killed him out of fear that Cali would kill him.

What is unclear, among many things, is why Comello thought Cali belonged to the deep state.

The connection of this murder with QAnon, what Leftists call a "conspiracy theory" that Trump and his presidency have been under attack by the deep state, is at the very least dubious.

On the same grounds we could blame any political movement, in most cases with better reason, of "leading to people’s deaths". Many examples come to mind, for instance the 14 June 2017 shooting At Alexandria, Virginia, Congressional Republican Baseball Practice which only for the presence of a security detail by a miracle didn't kill anyone but could have been a massacre,

James T. Hodgkinson opened fire on GOP lawmakers and staffers with a rifle as they prepared for the annual summer baseball game between Republicans and Democrats, wounding several people.

Hodgkinson’s social media profile revealed he was a Left-wing Bernie Sanders supporter who believed President Trump was a “traitor.” In one Facebook post of 3 months before Hodgkinson wrote: “It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

The AAAS article goes on to say:
GDI’s [the above-mentioned Global Disinformation Index] system analyzes content and context flags which can help assess any domain’s risk of disinformation. It rates the disinformation risk for websites based upon variables that include overall credibility, whether they push sensationalism, whether they contain hate speech, and whether the company embraces sound policies regarding content.
Now, since the article is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the "debunking" website with a high-sounding name it analyses is co-founded and headed by a physicist, we would expect some more precision in its chosen criteria than this. What objective characteristics does "overall credibility" entail?

And, even more importantly, how do you define "hate speech"? What does this concept mean? What role can it have in a science-led effort of exposing disinformation?

It's an impossible task to give "hate speech" a role in refuting falsehoods, for many reasons. First of all, hate is a sentiment, an emotion, a passion. As such, it's in the realm of the subjective, not the objective. What you consider hate another may consider simply justice, or telling the truth. There's no objective yardstick for definition, let alone measurement.

Furthermore, "hate" has been overused ad nauseam by the political and cultural Left to stigmatise, place beyond the pale and therefore silence (or at least the Left hopes) its adversaries.

So, this other "fact-checking" enterprise on the face of it seems to be, like so many of the same kind, Leftist propaganda masquerading as a quest for the truth.


Thursday, 7 May 2020

Covid-19 Fake News Is Real: a Direct Personal Experience

Fake news is real, especially in the mainstream media.

The tabloids may be the worst offenders, but are not the only ones.

And, in these times of coronavirus pandemic and great confusion about something new and not well understood, we need to be particularly careful about what the big newspapers and magazines, on which many rely for their news, information and opinions, publish.

This life experience reported by writer Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review well illustrates it.

After writing an article in which he advanced a few hypotheses, making it clear that they were only his layman's (not a doctor's) conjectures, on why California a month ago had not experienced the same level of Covid-19 cases as New York, he was "hit" by media as well as private enquiries about his ongoing “coronavirus antibody testing studies.”

Despite the fact that he never claimed to be a medical expert in his article or in any enquiry following it, and that he explained he never conducted a coronavirus study, he was repeatedly pursued for medical advice, even by Chinese media who were in search of "lab" confirmation that the virus spread started in the US (some Chinese go as far as saying that the origin of the disease was in Italy).

Hanson adds that the more he was denying any expert knowledge the more the media, including American ones, ignored his correction and continued asking him the same questions regardless.

He concludes that fake news is real, and it's interesting to hear it from someone who has experienced personally how easily and quickly it spreads.

A book could be written on how efficiently, without difficulty and terrifyingly the mass media can manipulate consciences.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

UK, Coronavirus Lockdown Good for the Heart, Rest, Exercise

The lockdown is good for the heart.

In the UK there’s been a reduction of hospital admissions for cardiovascular problems, and not because of fear of coronavirus contagion. If someone has serious heart trouble, he is unlikely not to report it and to bypass hospital referral.

Staying at home, not worrying about going to work the next day, sleeping well are relaxing and therefore beneficial for cardiac activity.

It has a similar effect as having a holiday.

People working from home are more likely to take breaks and not sit for long hours without interruption.

In addition, more people, if for no other reason than just to have an excuse to go out, are taking more regular exercise, walking and cycling, and entire families do it together.


Monday, 4 May 2020

Negative Oil Prices, End of Environmentalists' Peak Oil Theory

Oil tanker

People who read my article Italy Coronavirus Lockdown, No Cars, Pollution Up were surprised to find out that, in the absence of car traffic during the pandemic lockdown, the air pollution all over Italy increased rather than decreasing as expected according to the current views.

But contra facta non valent argumenta, as the Latin expression goes, there are no valid arguments against facts. Perhaps the pet, fashionable ecologist theories consider only some causal factors and not others, they overestimate human activity to the detriment of natural phenomena, they focus too much on cars and industries and too little on the weather.

Indeed we should consider another case in which a theory long supported by the fans of Malthus has been debunked for the umpteenth time amid - but not because of - the coronavirus crisis.

Now, for the first time in history, oil prices have become negative. That means that oil producers and traders are paying market players to take oil off their hands. They got stuck between a gigantic oversupply of oil and an absence of places to store it.

The BBC blames it on coronavirus, but while the lockdown may have been a contributing factor, this historic low is not just the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the oil price has been going down for years.

As Capital says,
it may prove to be the case that the coronavirus crisis accelerated and deepened a recession that was due anyway after a prolonged upswing.

...Finally, for all the talk of renewables and of carbon fuels being “stranded assets” that cannot be used, it is widely accepted that oil will remain one of the highest value cards in the energy deck, alongside gas and nuclear power.
A Colorado paper alerts: "Oil price: futures markets warn it won't recover after coronavirus".

You may have heard of the peak oil theory. It was one of the environmentalists' many neo-Malthusian ideas holding that, due to the fact that the earth's resources are finite, we'll get to the point that oil, after a "peak" of production, will become scarce and oil price will skyrocket.

In fact oil prices have gone down over time, and now they have even become negative. Peak oil theory has been repeatedly refuted again and again. But how could environmentalists, who supported a false theory, ever predict that? They foresaw exactly the opposite of what has happened. Similarly, those ecologist theories have turned out to be fallacious or at least doubtful about cars being the only or main cause of air pollution. This is what evidence and data show. Do we prefer fantasies instead?

Julian Lee on Bloomberg, declaring that the current crisis of negative oil prices is not an anomaly, has got closer to the explanatory cause much more accurately than those who blame the coronavirus lockdown:
If oil producers don’t cut supply, negative prices will come back to force them.

Crude oil's collapse into negative prices on Monday was a clear warning of just how scarce storage space for oil is getting. Prices below zero are the market's way of telling producers to stop pumping, now.

...with the world awash in oil, there was nowhere for them to store it. So they had to get rid of that obligation, at almost any price.
The situation has arisen because there is still simply too much crude being produced in a world that can’t use it.
The problem seems to be that oil producers are not cutting supply quickly and aggressively enough.

Compare this reality with the fiction of the greens' theory of peak oil that describes an enormous demand of oil confronting a very low and ever-decreasing supply.

What happened? Fracking happened, and electric cars. It's man's ingenuity and human choice, not geology, that governs.

This is what occurs when a theory, whether it is cars as a major responsible for air pollution or it is peak oil, is put to the test: this is the scientific method. Otherwise, it's pure ideology with no foundation.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Italy Coronavirus Lockdown, No Cars, Pollution Up

Rome, Italy, Coronavirus lockdown - deserted street

By Enza Ferreri

This article was published on Italy Travel Ideas

It’s so fashionable and radical-chic to blame man, what he creates and what he produces for any environmental disaster, real or imagined, these days. Pollution and anthropogenic climate change spring to mind.

During the coronavirus lockdown, which in Italy has strongly reduced car traffic in cities and country, these theories of how our air is affected by motor-caused pollution can be put to test.

And surprise, shock, maybe horror! It’s not what we thought.

Italy’s ARPA, Regional Agency for Environmental Protection, with control units located all over Italy monitors in real time the quality of the atmosphere and publishes the findings daily.

An almost incredible picture has emerged. In the overwhelming majority of Italian cities, the air quality deteriorated after ten days of "zero traffic" due to the lockdown imposed by the government resulting in an absolute lack of cars and reflected in images of deserted cities like in a post-nuclear bombing era seen in movies.

A world without one car, a test that could never have been carried out without an exceptional event such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Everywhere there is more or less the same picture, from Turin to Naples, going through Milan and Rome. All the pollutants under control by ARPA have not decreased, even during long periods without traffic. If anything, the pollutants have gone up.

Rome: Traffic Zero, Particulate Matter Up

Let’s start from Rome, certainly a unique city due to its perennial history of civilisation always, like the Arab Phoenix from its ashes, being born again, not to mention its immense heritage of architecture and art masterpieces.

The atmosphere is full of microscopic particles of solid or liquid matter suspended in the air called particulate matter (PM), which is a very insidious and dangerous pollutant due to its nano-dimensions. The level of PM is considered an important indicator of air pollution.

It was known that all these fine particles in the air are not caused only by human activity but are of natural origin. But the constant drumbeat of environmentalism has led to an overestimation of their human cause.

In the Eternal City, particulates, nitrogen dioxide and ozone in the last few days have had values significantly higher than those of the previous week. With cars completely eliminated, showing that much pollution is not due to car traffic. If vehicles stop circulating, the situation does not improve.

It was not possible to organise a total block of traffic for several weeks to really see what would have happened. Now the coronavirus pandemic has brought to a halt all activities, creating a gigantic open-air laboratory. A joy for scientists and researchers to get an unrepeatable scenario to analyse.

In Rome, a week after the total lockdown ordered by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the amount of fine dust in the air had increased.

After an accurate study of Rome district by district dated April 16 and covering more than a month in full lockdown, the Lazio Region section of ARPA published a 44-page report from which the experts’ embarrassment emerges. They couldn’t imagine this result: particulates don’t seem to care at all about what man does, they carry on regardless.

PM 10 is higher in March 2020 in every corner of the city than in March 2016 (the year most similar to 2020 from a meteorological point of view). In some recent days it has been almost double that of previous years.

The last four lines of the 44-page dossier, full of tables, are: «The particular situation generated by Covid-19 represents an event that has never occurred before, which will allow to deepen the study of air quality and will provide useful elements for the evaluation of the short and medium term measures that are adopted by the various authorities for the reduction of pollution ".

The hint is: if this is the reality, many things must be reviewed.

Milan and Po Valley: Data Deny the Anti-Pollution Effect of Lockdown

Milan, capital of the Lombardy Region, Italy's second city and industrial capital, has never been so car-free and yet the pollution level of its air has not changed.

The large amount of particulate matter (especially PM10) is due to the arrival of strong winds from the east, experts write. These are large-scale air masses from the Caspian Sea region that have brought great quantities of fine dust. Once they reached Italy they dispersed, while inside the Po Valley they were trapped by the Alpine and Apennine arches.

The reduction of air pollution that had been previously observed through photographs from the space in the Po Valley had deluded us: they had not detected the effect of the antiviral lockdown resulting in fewer cars and industrial activities but the effect of the wind from Central Europe while it was sweeping the smog away from the Po air.

Instead, before the lockdown started there was a clear and uncluttered atmosphere, the transparency of the air which the satellites photographed and we attributed to the effect of the anti-contagion restrictions.

What about the satellite images that convinced us of the best air quality in the days of the infection? They were photographs from space that had captured not the effects of the lockdown, since many satellite surveys had been taken in the days before the traffic stopped, but the effects of the weather.

The prime factor that thickens or disperses the polluting emissions of Northern Italy - of artificial or natural origin - is the weather. The wind and rain clean the air more than the confinement against the virus, or they bring the polluting dust of the deserts of Central Asia into the lungs of Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia, Romagna and Veneto, as happened in the weekend of March 30 and 31 when from Venice to Turin, from Bologna to Varese, without the movement of a car, the air of the North was plagued beyond all limits.

All this this was revealed by a study by Arpa Lombardia, supported by data from the other regional agencies of Northern Italy, whose detection units measured increases in smog after the closure of activities, industries and road traffic imposed by health concerns. On Saturday 30 March, with the contribution of desert sands, the dust in Milan was 84.4 micrograms, in Venice 152, in Verona 125, in Bologna 98 micrograms of PM10 per cubic metre of air. The European air quality target indicates the limit of 50 micrograms, a limit exceeded generously everywhere in Northern Italy.

Nothing, therefore, suggests that the lockdown drastically helped the region.

The specificity of the Po Valley is confirmed once again. As a writer put it: “Milan is polluted for other reasons: because it is at the bottom of a windless basin called the Po Valley".

A Gigantic Open-Air Laboratory

Starting from 23 February, the progressive adoption of measures to contain the contagion from coronavirus has determined a uniquely faster alteration in human activities than in ordinary conditions.

This has allowed scientists to measure in reality the consequences of some measures aimed at improving air quality, and more crucially to test many theories and assumptions about what gives rise to air pollution that had been long accepted but not properly tested.

When the first results were known, the surprise and amazement of researchers was evident. How is it possible? Someone thought of an error: if cars stop, pollution can’t go up. But this mistaken, as it turned out, prediction was based on a wrong presumption on the main cause of pollution.

This is how science proceeds: if a proposition describing a future observable event is logically deduced from a hypothesis, and if the event predicted occurs, the hypothesis is confirmed, if not it is refuted (or debunked, as the neologism goes).

The scientists’ conclusions: "In fact, it has been observed that the drastic reductions of some sources [like road traffic, Editor's note] have not always prevented the limits from being exceeded, even though they contribute to reducing their size. This clearly highlights the complexity of the phenomena related to the formation, transport and accumulation of atmospheric particulates and the consequent difficulty of drastically reducing the values present in the atmosphere in ordinary situations".

In short: reducing pollutants in the atmosphere is not always possible, as it is influenced by a series of factors not always under human control, like weather influences.

Is It Worth It?

Environmentalist lobbies have a great power in our times over political decisions and media coverage influencing public opinion. But, before blaming cars for levels of pollution for which they are not responsible, think of this: due to the coronavirus pandemic and the fall in demand deriving from it, 14 million European workers risk losing their jobs, as explained by Eric-Mark Huitema, general manager of Acea, the association of European car manufacturers, who defines the coronavirus emergency as "the worst crisis ever" for its impact on the automotive industry.

Il sole 24 Ore
Il Messaggero
Il Gazzettino
A rischio 14 milioni di posti di lavoro