Shruti Pant & Dinesh Yadav
With around 20% of the World’s Population struggling in lockdown due to the SARS-COVID-19 crises, there appears a silver lining after all. It is clear to us, that developing sustainable and effective alternatives for growth, economic development, and preventing climate change amid Globalisation, Liberalisation, and Industrialisation is a difficult task, almost equivalent to Sisyphus’s struggle to push a boulder uphill in Greek mythology. However, it appears that Mother Nature always finds her way for revival.
Source:blogspot.com/Albert Camu: Myth of Sisyphus
The origin of COVID-19
Last December, a new virus was found in Wuhan, in the Hubei Province of Central China. The virus caused pneumonia-like flue in humans. On 23rd January, all transportation going in and out of Wuhan was stopped to contain the spread of the virus. Between 30th to 31st January, countries like India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, U.K, U.S, and Russia, reported their first few cases. By 30th March the virus had spread to much of the globe, with 730,000 confirmed cases and more than 36,000 deaths.
Even though it seems that humans are struggling to contain the virus from spreading, it has also had various positive effects on the environment. We can call it the COVID effect. On February 28th NASA shared some satellite images of the reduction in the levels of atmospheric Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over China. Levels of Nitrogen dioxide also dropped in Italy, especially in the Po Valley, when on March 8th; the entire nation went in lockdown. Nitrogen dioxide has been known to be an irritant to lungs. It causes Asthma and inflammation of the lungs.
Source: phys.org/NASA images.
Carbon dioxide emissions have also decreased due to the dropping of coal and oil industry activities. Jacqueline Klopp-Co-Director of the Centre for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia. University,.in New York City, said she expects to see a drop in Greenhouse Gas emissions due to quarantine measures. Major cities in India, China, the U.S, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. are experiencing a lower level of toxic emissions and improved air quality. In New Delhi, the Air Quality Index (AQI) has dropped below 95 last week, a big reduction from its monthly average of 161, from March 2019. Mumbai too witnessed a similar reduction in the levels of pollution. Carbon Monoxide emissions have dropped by 50% in New York, Columbia University noted. Also, with the decrease in Greenhouse gases, the Ozone layer over Antarctica has started recovering.
As humans observe quarantine measures, there has also been a revival of fauna. Clean air, fewer human interventions, and our oceans are doing much better with fleets of ships gone. Extremely fragile Olive Ridley Turtle, in large numbers, approximately above 7.5 lacs have returned for nesting in the beaches of Odhisa. In Venice Italy, the often murky waters in the canals began to get clear, with fish visible in the water below. The Corona Virus pandemic has led many around the globe to ponder over sustainable alternative ways for economic development.
Source: The Hindu
Nature is of huge significance to each one of us, because it is through her that we live. The outcome for the environment would be less damaging if nations throughout the globe choose to invest in newer climate-friendly industries, instead of relying on carbon-intensive sectors for economic recovery. COVID-19 has surely led to the dawning of the realization that the key to a better, healthy, and sustainable future lies in our hands. If we don’t act today, where would we be in some twenty to thirty years from now?