Contributed By: Rachana Krishna
Our world has been under lockdown ever since COVID-19 has become an undeniable part of our reality. This lockdown has affected the world in so many ways, both positively and negatively, based on how you view it. It has generated a paradigm shift in how we view this world and our general role as humans in the environment. It has also put most of our own lives into perspective in multiple ways. Yet, the lockdown has also indirectly affected the world in ways we might have not expected. Hence, here are 5 such things that happened during this lockdown:
Air Pollution levels decreased
Economic growth is inversely proportional to the health of the environment, they say. As the country hits an all time new low with one of its biggest economic crises due to the pandemic, its pollution levels have dropped down to a record level. When the economy stumbles, the environment begins to get better. This is because the economy is extremely interlinked with the consumption of natural resources such as fossil fuels and all the other non renewable resources which when burnt release toxic gases which in turn affect the environment..
Non Functional factories, long stranded flights and empty streets because people were forced to work from home surely had a negative effect on the world economy but from climate perspective, the coronavirus pandemic has left a glimmer of hope in environmentalists as the world’s air pollution index has significantly decreased. The harmful industrial emission measures which otherwise would’ve taken years to come into effect were immediately implemented though not for the right reasons. The thick smog has finally given way to blue skies. Air pollution is one of the most deadly killers that claims more than 7 million lives in a year. Though we can’t expect the change to sustain for longer as the lockdown along with the industrial restrictions will be eventually lifted and people will go back to doing what they were doing before, it is important that we find climate change solutions sooner than later..
Himalayan mountains visible from jalandhar city punjab
People living in plains around the world for decades have been visiting the Himalayan mountains and its surrounding regions in order to soothe their senses. For many of us, visiting the Himalayan ranges meant going beyond Rishikesh in Uttarakhand to get a glimpse of the beautiful snow capped mountains. But ever since the lockdown imposed due to coronavirus, nature has silently healed by itself as there was a drastic decrease in environmental pollution. Recently, from a city called Jalandhar located in Punjab, the Dhauladhar mountain range has been visible after several decades. People living in Kashmir and Srinagar also noted that they could see the Pir Panjal mountains more clearly than ever. I hope people will appreciate what they were missing earlier and take conscious steps towards protecting their environment..
Yamuna water quality improved during lockdown
Not just the air, but the water in our rivers are also getting clearer. The stoppage of influx of industrial waste has led to a positive impact on the water quality of the Yamuna river. Reported Bio chemical oxygen demand (BOD) and Dissolved oxygen (DO) levels have come down, though it is still above permissible levels for bathing. The industrial effluents that were released into these waters have significantly reduced in all areas. All of this happened in a span of 9 days of lockdown. It doesn’t stop there; even the ivory-marble wonder Taj Mahal didn’t have its annual insect visit that has been staining the walls of the monument every summer. The insect invasion is a result of excessive breeding in the stagnant Yamuna waters right behind the monument. The flow of relatively clean water into the river in the recent past has curbed the breeding of insects which has in-turn had a clear positive impact on the walls of the white beauty. The backwaters are so clean now that the reflection of the Taj Mahal is clearly visible in the transparent waters..
While most of the claims of animals ‘reclaiming’ their spaces, like the now-famous and extensively meme’d Italian dolphins, have been debunked, we’re able to witness how animals and birds in general have become more ‘free’. They’ve reportedly started roaming on roads and highways around the world without the threat of vehicles. Examples include animals ranging from pumas and wild turkeys to monkeys roaming on roads and streets in countries such as the United States, Thailand and Japan. Meanwhile, the lack of visitors to zoos and national parks has proven to be peaceful for many solitary animals. Some animals have also started breeding more extensively because of the absence of human activity that might’ve otherwise indirectly disturbed it. Further, people have reported seeing small animals and birds return to their backyards, which they had not seen in a long time. Hence, even on a small scale this effect of ‘nature returning’ is quite visible..
What happened in our homes
Finally, we need to mention how the lockdown has impact our own lives, irrespective of where we reside. This lockdown has further reminded us the importance of the little things we’ve always wanted to do but never got to doing. That broken window you wanted to fix, that novella you’ve always wanted to write, that instrument that you’ve always wanted to learn but had been collecting dust somewhere in your house so far. It has also given us all the time in the world to spend with the people we love. Working parents could finally spend quality time with their children uninterrupted, expect for the occasional office zoom conference, while the children could have the support of their parents 24/7 during uncertain times like these. However, this only was the case for those who were fortunate enough to socially distance and isolate themselves. Meanwhile, the essential workers have continued to risk their lives to keep everything up and running normally and their contribution during this dire time cannot be understated and must not be forgotten…