The world is under attack and the enemy is invisible. As you read this, there is probably a new Corona positive case and by the time you finish reading this article there might be an increase in the death toll globally – such is the might of this Virus.
This certainly is a new world, but not the world that we desired or dreamt off. This is a world forcefully imposed on us as a result of COVID-19. Continents on lockdown, travels restricted, no mechanical birds (i like to call airplanes that) in the air, no International trade. Economies are at a standstill, markets are down and tumbling like never before. I believe the word ‘anti-globalisation’ is the most appropriate to describe these rugged times.
Our country India is known for hospitality. We are a believer of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ which translates to ‘The guest is God’ in English. The country had to ban travel, railway operations had to be shut down, we had to quarantine our foreign guests as a precautionary measure to help control the virus and mandatory screening began at airports even before the first case was diagnosed in India.
But as they say, ‘One man’s misfortune is another’s fortune’. As the whole mankind stands threatened by COVID-19, on the other hand, Earth is healing itself and actually adding a little more time to our clock. Some of the unexpected outcomes of this pandemic include a sudden drop in carbon emissions. The measures taken by countries to curtail the virus have proven to be effective in bringing a significant ecological change throughout the world.
Pollution in New York has reduced by nearly 50%, and as people were advised to stay home, carbon emissions fell by 25% at the start of the year in China. The use of coal also fell by 40% in six power plants of China. The satellites have been hovering in space and generating images that show Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) emissions fading away over Northern Italy, Spain and the UK – due to travel restrictions which seem to be the key contributor to emissions reducing significantly.
UN’s Environment Chief Inger Andersen opined that ‘Nature has sent a Message to humanity with the Coronavirus Pandemic and the on-going climate crisis. Leading scientists believe that live animal markets and illegal global animal trade are an ideal breeding ground for the disease. Andersen said, 75% of all emerging infectious diseases come from wildlife. She quoted “our continued erosion of Wild Spaces has brought us uncomfortably close to animals and plants that harbour diseases that can jump to humans”.
Well, a pandemic that is taking lives almost every minute should not be considered as a way of bringing a significant temporary change in the current ecosystem. But this virus leaves us with thoughts to ponder upon – one of them being the importance of Lockdowns in allowing nature to heal, across the globe. Humans have taken a lot from Earth and it’s time to let our planet rest for a while. If planned and executed properly, a global lockdown every year for a given period of time can be seen as a potential solution to curb down environmental adversities. It might sound impractical but I can see this very impractical approach is saving the lives of many. With effective policies, willingness and a positive attitude of each one of us towards the Environment can help save it for the generations to come. Authorities and people coming together to fight the pandemic is the only way out, and the same applies to saving the Earth from perishing.
Take this as a reminder to consciously strive towards environmental friendly practices, to prioritise health over wealth, to ensure well being of our children and to strike a balance between aiming for a green future and minting green notes of money