The year 2019 ending with despair and dejection due to massive Amazon rainforest fires burning around 906000 hectares of land, destroying the habitat of various animals as well as raging protests for CAA. The world was hoping that year 2020 would be nice for them. But eventually it turned out to be a bad omen for mankind. With WHO declaring the outbreaks of COVID-19 as a public health emergency, raging protests against CAA, frequent earthquakes and destructive cyclones, poor suffering from hunger, and a large number of deaths due to disease.
In such a stressful time the only good that has occurred is that nature has revived itself. With people staying at homes amid extending lockdowns, nature has rescued itself.
It is truly said that “When Humans can’t do anything nature recovers on its own”. While the human death toll has increased horrendously to 297,000 deaths approximately. Various nations have been locked down to contain the deadly virus. From big production houses to small stores everything is closed. Amid lockdown the environmental changes have been significant. This change was first seen from the space and then with extending lockdown periods they could be sensed by every person when they look around them. Within a few weeks of lockdown with almost no traffic on the roads and factories closed, dirty pollution belts shrunk in cities and industrial hubs. A study found that China and India together were responsible for over half of the total deaths globally with each country witnessing around 1.2 million air pollution led deaths in 2017. In fact, every time I reached the metro station and looked at the AQI board, it rarely displayed an AQI of less than 300 and currently, it is around 120. If we strive to maintain lower air pollution levels post pandemic we may save more lives through cleaner airs than are lost to the coronavirus. Another benefit of reduced air pollution is the reduction in greenhouse gases. Reduced use of transport is directly proportional to lower CO2 emissions. In China, the world’s biggest source of carbon emissions were brought down by 18% between February and mid-March, a cut of 250m tonnes which equal to more than half UK’s annual output. Whereas Europe has seen a reduction of 390m tonnes. Novel coronavirus has proved to be a blessing to wildlife and biodiversity. While humans have been confined to their houses, wildlife has faced less human disturbance, pollution and traffic. According to the scientists, the most benefitted species is the bee. Bee population in world is rapidly declining around the world due to habitat loss, pollution, and the use of pesticides. Bees are the world’s most important pollinators, fertilizing 1/3 of food and approx. 80% of flowering plants. This year there will be much lower deaths of animals by cars and trucks which in UK alone takes the lives of around 100,000 hedgehogs and 30,000 deer.
Less pollution and silent surroundings have touched our lives in a diverse manner. Videos on social media platform showing us thrilling scenes of wild animals walking down streets in urban areas. In fact, the air is so clean now that one can see the snow-capped Himalayas from Jalandhar, something not seen in the past few decades. The small sparrow birds which disappeared from Delhi a few years back can be seen now again. Indian Government spent crores of rupees to cleanse Yamuna River yet terribly failed whereas after the lockdown of merely 25 days freshwater could be seen again in the river.
I want to share a personal experience from my life. It was December 2016, a few months before my 10th board exams. I used to wake up early in the morning at around 4. I recall that this one windy morning I opened my balcony door, after a few minutes I could hear the muffled yet gentle voice of Namaz prayers. From that day to today, that is one of the reasons why I love to wake up early. Due to air and sound pollution, I could seldom listen to it even in the morning. But now I can easily hear it even in the crowded evenings. It gives immense pleasure to my heart.
I hope these pollution-free days continue for long, giving us such a golden chance of breathing fresh air in Delhi, making us healthier and happier.