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Pandemic 2020: Environment Sees Covid-19 Positives

By- Akanksha Bhadauria


The CoVID-19 pandemic has brought the entire global life at halt. From Lockdowns being extended to new restrictions being put to place, it has disrupted entire civil life. But these restrictions seem to be a blessing in disguise for the environment. Wildlife experiences the new found freedom and nature blooms.

After the outbreak of Novel CoronaVirus, many countries adopted lockdown that stopped all the movements, social and professional. From offices to movie theaters to restaurants and salon, all the commercial establishments were closed down. Modern life has been kept on pause as millions of people are locked inside of their homes to try and stop the spread of the Covid-19 disease. But outside, the nature has continued to thrive and benefit from our absence.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we came across articles every day about the degrading air quality, dying marine life and rising levels of global warming, which in turn is leading to the rising level of sea and melting glaciers. Humans were consuming the resources at a much higher rate than the earth’s capability to replenish them, resulting in the depletion of resources such as air, water and soil. But ever since the lockdown has commenced, there have been small but significant changes in environment.

AIR QUALITY

As the lockdown commences in many countries, there has been a significant decline in travelling, whether by self owned vehicles or public transports. Industries have been closed down following the norms of social distancing which has played a major role in dropping the air pollution significantly by reducing the nitrous oxide emission.

Delhi witnessed a reduction in average concentrations of fine particulates (PM2.5) by almost 80 percent within the first week. The air quality has improved to AQI 50-100 and later to AQI 0-50 which is from satisfactory to good. This is a huge improvement when compared to the PM2.5 concentrations of March in the last two years.

The air is cleaner and more breathable near Anand Vihar, Delhi, during the lockdown, which is otherwise known as the most polluted zone in Delhi having hazardous air pollution levels.

Citizens in Northern India got to witness the breathtaking view of Himalayan mountain range for the first time in decades, due to the drop in air pollution caused by the lockdown.

Residents of Jalandhar in northern Punjab shared pictures of the Himalayan mountain range from their rooftops and empty streets, spell bounded by the view which has been under the sheet of pollution for 30 years

With this reduction of air pollution, Agra saw the Taj Mahal under the clear blue skies as never seen before.

Heavy reductions in particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide have been experienced  throughout the UK, with London and several other major cities all recording a dip in the presence of the harmful substances, along with major cities in Europe including Paris, Madrid and Milan have all seen a similar dip.

Water Quality

With the absence of boats in the water bodies, be it fishing vessels or private ones, the water has cleared up. In cities like Venice, the water turned so clean and clear that the fishes could be seen and evened water flow. With the humans locked up in their homes and stringent norms, even the marine life is recovering and oceans are healing. Residents of the city have said this healing is result of lesser tourists, and they are witnessing sights which haven’t been seen in decades.

Less littering and garbage also means reduction in the clogging of river systems, which is very beneficial for the environment.

Visuals of a cleaner River Ganga have emerged from Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur as well as Varanasi. The clear water is a result of the shutdown of most industries.

It’s a rare sight to see fishes near the Varanasi ghaat steps. But it has been made possible due to absence of crowds near the ghaats and clearer water.

In Delhi, the water of River Yamuna to appeared clearer in southeast Delhi's Kalindi Kunj, the heavy amount of toxic foam that is usually seen around the year still continues. The toxic foam is caused due to a mix of sewage, detergents and chemicals from industrial waste.

Wildlife

Apart from marine life thriving in the water bodies, animals can be seen moving about and roaming freely to places where they would not dare to go before. Sea turtles were spotted returning to beaches where they usually avoided laying their eggs, thanks to lack of human interference.

Spotted a herd of marauding goats on the Welsh seaside town and deer roaming freely on the Japanese streets, searching for food. In Barcelona, boars have been spotted roaming freely on roadways which was once packed with traffic.

In Chile's capital, Santiago, a puma was spotted wandering around the city centre which is left deserted due to night curfew. It is assumed that the puma ventured down from neighboring hills.  

In Northern America, Orcas are also enjoying the lack of human presence and exploring the sea. Locals reported the sight of these majestic whales for the first time in decades.

Sparrows have been spotted flying freely in the skies of Delhi.

Herds of deer have been spotted walking down the streets of Haridwar and Coimbatore-Ooty road in Tamil Nadu. Antelopes were spotted in NCR and a leopard and Sambar in Chandigarh. In Odisha, with absence of boats and fishing vessels, over five lakh endangered species of sea turtle, olive ridley, have returned to the coast for nesting and laying an estimated six crore eggs. On the busy coasts of Mumbai, this lockdown witnessed lakhs of flamingos.

These are the handful of instances of wildlife reclaiming their lost territory amid the lockdown.

Vegetation

Humans aren’t the only ones grateful for cleaner air and water. With everything at a standstill, plants are growing and thriving to produce more coverage and more oxygen

It is predicted that wild flowers could bloom in masses for years throughout the UK and bless them with a floral summer, according to research released by conservation charity Plantlife.

Trevor Dines, Plantlife's Botanical Specialist said: "An unintended but understandable consequence of lockdown may be reduced mowing that has the potential to benefit wild plants and the bees, butterflies, birds, bats and bugs that depend on them for survival."

Conclusion

COVID-19 is a global pandemic which has brought the world to a standstill. However, this pandemic which is seen as threat to Human Life and harm to economy has an upside. Nature is healing and thriving with the absence of pollution, garbage, and well, humans. This healing maybe temporary but it teaches us an eye opening lesson, making us more conscious of our environment in the long term.


Reference


Energyworld.com- Covid-19 Impact on air quality:- Meena Sehgal Apr 20, 2020,https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/energy-speak/covid-19-lockdown-positive-consequences-for-air-quality/4177

Evening Standard- https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/himalayas-india-air-pollution-clear-view-coronavirus-lockdown-a4413191.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52113695

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52113695

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/goats-take-over-welsh-town-during-coronavirus-lockdown-a4402601.html

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/covid19-lockdown-boost-wildflowers-growth-summer-a4410986.html

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