With streets being empty, cities being silent and factories being closed, nature is leaving a message to us. We sensed environmental changes wrought by the novel Coronavirus in the sky above our heads, the air in our lungs and even the grounds beneath our feet. While the world is fighting the global pandemic as best as it can, nature on the other hand has got a vacation to heal itself. What started from China has now reached other countries but it’s the nature that is benefitting from it.
Ever since the lockdown, countries across the world have seen a temporary fall in carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide of as much as 40%, greatly improving air quality and reducing risks of heart and lung disease. Not just normal traffic is off the roads, most of the industries are also shut down which has helped in bringing down the pollution level to a greater extent. One cannot deny that the pandemic is affecting the world economy and putting people’s livelihoods in jeopardy, but the crisis has given some a jolt of things that really matters. It turns out that lockdown is not that bad after all, at least for nature.
With the world practicing social distancing, one can clearly see changes around them. Ever since the lockdown is imposed, there’s practically no traffic left on the roads of busy cities. No more honking of horns, no more sound pollution, no inconvenience and reduced emission of toxic gases. Since people are staying at home and taking care of themselves, nature has picked up right time to heal itself and take back the shine it once lost due to anthropogenic activities of humans.
Nature is starting to rejuvenate and there are many instances where people have seen visible effects of lockdown as pollution levels around the world have reduced drastically. Mesmerising, massive, surprising and never-before are the world expressed by people over social media. On April 2, residents of Jalandhar, Punjab witnessed an unprecedented view of the snow-capped Himalayan range of Dhualadhar. Social media were filled with some eye-soothing images as more and more people laid their eyes on the Himalayan range. Inspired by this scenic beauty, netizens, locked in their homes, found a new theme to create and share memes on. people are now posting exaggerated pictures of things they can see from their cities using the hashtag ‘nature is healing’, all thanks to reduced air pollution.
Plane-free skies and starry nights
The lockdown is not only rejuvenating nature, but letting us humans see its wonders too. Your wish to lie under a star-studded sky at night is no longer a wish but a reality. With a decline in pollution level, residence of many cities in India and abroad can now gaze stars from their roof and lose themselves in the indescribable beauty of nature.
Rivers are rejuvenated with clear water
It seems like Coronavirus is showing us a mirror of how we have been plundering nature and destroying its resources for our gains. Amid the lockdown, the quality of river water across the world has seen a significant improvement. In India, Yamuna River whose water contains nothing but toxins look clear than before as industries are shut. This is a signal that we should not try to play with environment. There is no doubt that stoppage of industrial pollutants and waste has had a positive effect on water quality of River Yamuna. This also raises concern whether we will be able to maintain it or make the situation as worse as it was before, once the lockdown is over. Similarly, people have seen improvement in the quality of water of Ganga River. But, not only this, the water level has also increased ever since the nationwide lockdown.
Return of the wildlife
While our species is in temporary retreat during the lockdown, wildlife has filled the vacuum and has been making their presence known. Birds especially sparrows whose chirpings once used to overwhelm our hearts and went missing from our surroundings are visible these days. Monkeys are seen in cities searching for food. In some places like Italy, swans and fishes are enjoying the period of calm before people return. A deer was also spotted in a field close to Britain airport. As we humans are staying home to practice social distancing, these gorgeous creatures are roaming the streets and sunbathing on the ground of church, nibbled hedges and trespassing through a few gardens. What you’d especially plan to see in a zoo is now wandering through the alleys of cities. There couldn’t be a more obvious message from nature.
More clean and fresh air to breathe
According to India’s Central Pollution Board, there has been a significant improvement in air quality since the lockdown is imposed by the government. Now people are getting more fresh and clean air to breathe. The closing of businesses and activities related to Covid-19 has drastically decreased nitrogen dioxide concentration across the world. The national capital, New Delhi saw up to a 44% reduction in PM10 air pollutant level on the first day the restrictions were imposed. The PM10 standard measures airborne particulates 10 micrometers or smaller in diameter. Many crowded cities around the globe have also experienced reduction in air pollution.
Reduction in fossil fuel emission
No doubt that the restrictions and lockdown is affecting our economy and industries. But on the brighter side, it’s good news for climate change activists as carbon emissions that are heating the planet are more controlled than ever before. The price of oil has also slumped almost 2/3rd since last year. Maybe this is not bad after all and if we continue to think about the changes we can make in this world and pave a way to a sustainable future, we can correct our follies.
Regardless of the fact whether we would think about environment and change our habit or not, it all rests on public perceptions. The pandemic has demonstrated the deadly consequences of ignoring expert warnings, of political delay, and of sacrificing human health and natural landscapes for the economy. But the sooner we realize our mistakes and adopt methods to beat global threats lurking around us, the sooner we’ll be able to live a life we’ve always wanted. A life where our children can breathe clean air, eat organic food and use natural resources wisely for their future children.