Covid19 effect- The environment speaks

I now write on Green Lens. For more blog posts, please visit there.

The outbreak of COVID-19 started in December’19 from the city of Wuhan, China with the World Health Organization only recently declaring it as a pandemic. The media is filled with heartbreaking and tragic stories of hundreds of new cases and the increasing death toll from a virus we didn’t even know existed.

Coronavirus is a family of viruses that is said to have been living for over many centuries and it is thought that it has only now found it’s way into a new host- Humans. But such is not the case. This family of viruses had once before affected us all, in the year 2003 when the SARS virus erupted. In fact as per a study by the World Economic Forum, the spread of diseases is linked to climate change and loss of biodiversity. For example, deforestation can cause 31% of disease outbreaks much like the eruption of Ebola and Zika virus.

A strong evidence suggests that the transfer of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) to humans started due to Wuhan’s illegal seafood market. Measures are now being implemented worldwide by the Governments to contain this spread of COVID-19 and keep us all in quarantine. Although environment is not the foremost priority yet for some who have not caught the virus, the awareness is also towards what’s going on outside. What I mean to say is that few are actually noticing how things outside their houses are changing and not only with respect to empty roads and reduced noise. Change is also visible in the natural environment.

The Times of India newspaper in it’s Delhi-NCR issue draws on the prancing of beautiful birds that have made their way into our societies- some unnoticed ones which are now in the limelight and some migratory. Some keen birders with a sharp eye have observed the increase in the urban birds. Bird species like Black Ibis, Black-eyed Kites, Grey Hornbill, Purple Sunbird and Rose-Ringed Parakeet are now visible in the neighbourhoods. People who have taken up “house birding” challenges are recording 40-50 species of rare birds using their binoculars. The quiet atmosphere and blooming flowers are said to be the reasons of such experiences, the Ornithologists say. And with the ongoing breeding season, the birds have even become active vocalizers for their mates. Bird sightings going up is also dependent on the air quality. With the air quality improving, the clean air is being felt by people all around the world slowly. In India, an Air Quality Index of 43 was recently observed in one of the areas with the sudden drop in carbon emissions. In China, 25% of the emissions dropped drastically since the beginning of the year. New York saw 40% reduced levels of pollution. Satellite images have even shown Nitrogen dioxide emissions fading away over Northern Italy with similar cases over UK and Spain.

Every year NASA releases information on global temperature anomalies (video below). The temperature has evidently increased more so from 1990. With the emissions reducing this year, it is possible to see the difference in the global temperature for this year. Needless to say that such painful times have highlighted the mutually-affective relationship people have with nature. Such examples are prominent in Italy as well as in India. The city of Venice shutting down has reduced the boat traffic on it’s waterways. Their murky waters have started clearing up with present fish visible from nearby homes. While, in India the officials say that although the sewage from households still seems to flow into the Yamuna River yet it seems to be clearing up as well as the stench is also seen reducing. Future tests might indicate accurate results.

Global temperature changes being observed from 1880 to 2019. Source: climate.nasa.gov

Recently I had a conversation with a friend wherein we were checking up on each other. What was most interesting in the conversation was how she seemed to be amazed at how it feels to be able to see the sky and the stars so clearly that too with breeze flowing. While I told her about experiencing an Asian Koel’s calls throughout the day and everyday right outside my house.

The world is changing yet again. Although the difference in the environment might not sustain for a long time but we have time to reflect now. As the recent studies suggest that processes of extreme changes keep happening in nature but we, humans have just begun to evidence it for ourselves. We live in a fast-track world where we should not only reflect but also slow down and breathe. I personally wonder whether this was meant to actually reduce our (humans) speed. Or maybe such things actually happen on a daily basis in the environment and we just noticed it. So to think. Or maybe it is a warning by nature that she’s still in charge.

The change might have just begun. With all of us looking outside I’m pretty sure we must have observed atleast ONE difference in the environment and felt something about it. I would love to hear more such instances if you have any! πŸ™‚ The practice of social distancing all over the world due to this pandemic might have brought us all in physical seclusion yet we are connected more than ever- through online games, spending time with our parents, video calls and other things. Now we can actually also spend some time introspecting and soul searching about nature and the need for balance. Together. Maybe this time, we are able to do it right- restart our lives the sustainable way…


References:

  1. Ball, S. 2020. Clearer water, cleaner air: The environmental effects of coronavirus. France24. Accessed on April 5, 2020. https://www.france24.com/en/20200320-clearer-water-cleaner-air-the-environmental-effects-of-coronavirus
  2. Gandhiok, J. ‘Factories shut, Yamuna water sparkles.’ Times of India. 2020 Apr 5.
  3. Gandhiok, J. Bhowmick, S. ‘ Role reversal: With humans caged in, birds fill the silence as sightings go up.’ Times of India. 2020 Apr 4.
  4. Henriques, M. 2020. Will Covid-19 have a lasting impact on the environment? BBC Future. Accessed on April 5, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200326-covid-19-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-the-environment

I now write on Green Lens. For more blog posts, please visit there.

27 comments

  1. I’ve not noticed too many changes since I barely get to go out of the house. But as I read this post, I became more aware of the chirping of the birds outside my window. This has never happened before (even if they chirped, their sounds were drowned by the sound of traffic on the main road). Indeed, nature is responding!
    Beautiful post πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This Covid19 outbreak give scientific evidence that anthropogenic activities are major cause for degradation of Environmental health.

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    • I think that’s one of the emerging theories although not concrete scientific evidence but yes well might be heading towards the proof. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. No doubt that we need to retrospect the past that how we have destroyed the balance of nature.
    Yes we need to learn the lesson.
    The blog is very right, concise and apt in the given scenario.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully articulated, Srishti . The change is being noticed in the nature. Now it’s our turn how we change ourselves not only during the prevailing circumstances but also in the near future as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautifully written. And yess its a warning to human race that nature is not something we can manipulate. And major change is that i can feel/see that our mother is breathing now-clear sky in polluted city like delhi also the clear water of yamuna. Earlier it was difficult to see stars but now you they are clearly visible to me.Its april and my AC is still not in use. And at the same time i feel pitty for the street dogs and cows outside. I wonder if we could have proper balance with nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah along with the other perks of birds and clear environment, the no AC situation feels good and saves up on a lot of bill!
      But you’re right, it’s saddening how the street dogs would be surviving atleast those who are away from our homes while the cows might be venturing more on the roads and near houses. If we all work together, I’m sure we can figure out ways to work with nature and this time we are getting a second chance. Self reflectance is now more important than ever! Thanks for the read and this accurate comment though πŸ™‚

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  6. Good Aftetnoon Srishti your article is wonderful. For the last few days I had become a slugabed, I was getting up late amd was feeling depressed with repeated Covid-19 messahes. Please do not miunderstand I am praying for the saftety of everyone and I hope we come out of this situatipn soon. But, entire day only reading about Covid-19 was depressing. Your post changed my thought procees and encouraged me to look at the positive side also. Today I got up early and sat in my balcony. There is a beautiful park in front of my balcony which is mostly crowded with morning walkers. Today, there was not even a single soul in the park. Greenary, fresh air and clear sky had a very soothing effect on me. In addition I was mesmerised by the chirping of birds. I hope we are able to maintain this after things become normal.

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    • Thank you so much for this beautiful comment and I’m glad I was able to help even a little bit :’) I hope so too that we are able to maintain this after this crisis is over.

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  7. The title is very apt! The Environment was always speaking but we conveniently chose not to listen.
    Hope this Pandemic trains us to listen so as to sustain ourselves in this beautiful environment God has created for mankind!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful post.I was also observing these little things since lockdown and it feels amazing.The nature seems to heal itself and we must learn before it gets out of our hands.

    Liked by 1 person

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