OPINION

Lockdown and the healing of planet earth!

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By: Zeeshan Rasool Khan and Eyram Hamid Khan

Earth is the only place in the known universe confirmed to harbor life. It supports life and is home to all living organisms because of the water it possesses besides other conditions necessary for survival. 71% of the water has furnished our planet blue color, that is why the earth is sometimes called ‘Blue planet’. On December 17, 1972, when for the first time, Apollo 17 crew viewed it from outer space they described it as ‘A beautiful blue marble’ for its conspicuous clarity. But since then it has undergone a radical change.

Anthropogenic pollution, mainly, has brought perilous changes in this planet by choking its water bodies and by polluting its land and atmosphere. The assessment contained in the sixth Global environment outlook, released at U.N environmental conference in March 2019, suggested that Earth’s condition has continued to deteriorate since the first global outlook was prepared in 1997. The report even warned that a major extinction event is underway; compromising the globe’s ability to meets human needs.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic that brought havoc to the world has been declared as a ‘blessing’ by environment experts. Because cogent evidence is available, indicating that the pandemic is having a positive impact on the earth. In other words, the earth is ‘Healing’ largely owing to corona induced ‘lockdown’.

When the people are holed up in their homes with no or meager vehicular movement on roads, our earth is showing signs of rejuvenation. It is healing itself and is detoxing. Initially, it was observed from space. Now we see it around us in different ways.

Air is cleaner now. Its quality has changed from worse to a bit better. China, the epicenter of the Covid-19 infection is showing a considerable reduction in their pollution levels. According to NASA’s satellite images, the air quality has improved to a great degree. Not just in china, national capital Delhi that has made the headlines as the most polluted city has seen a drastic drop in pollution levels. And credit goes to lockdown, which contributed to the fall of global carbon emission by stopping the industrial activity and restricting traffic.

Hindustan Times reported that people in Jhalandar could see the Himalayas from their rooftop – something to cherish. People believe lockdown has cleared air pollution enabling them to catch the picture-perfect sight of the Himalayas from some cities. In this way, covid-19 helped in the restoration of the scenic beauty hitherto concealed by pollution.

The earth is showing off her best color- blue again. Its ‘beautiful blue marble’ –like appearance is back as water quality also has made strides.

With the improvement in water and air quality, it is expected that plants would grow better. As human intervention has declined to zero due to ongoing lockdown, plants are allowed to thrive, grow, and produce more coverage and oxygen. Consequently, there will be less litter, which in turn will lead to the least clogging of river systems that can influence the environment in the long run.

Similarly, the pandemic has caused the demand for fish and fish prices to reduce substantially. Rainer Froese, a German scientist opines that fish biomass will increase as fishing is on a downward trajectory.

Moreover, as people are indoors, some animals have been spotted in populated areas. Sea turtles were seen laying eggs on beaches they once avoided. Pink flamingoes have returned in huge numbers to Mumbai. Bombay Natural History Society recorded that their number is 25% more than the last year. All this has been possible due to diminished human activities.

However, it deserves to be mentioned that all transformations the earth is going through are fleeting. Susan Annenberg, (a professor of environment and global health at George Washington) says that pandemic-caused environmental changes are temporary. She said, once the lockdowns are lifted things will probably go back to the way, they were. Many other experts have the same viewpoint.

What happens will be seen but one thing is clear that the Covid-19 lockdown has made us watch the planet ‘healing’ from behind our windows. It has given us a glimpse into what the world might look like if we live sustainably and conserve the resources of our planet. It insinuated that how are we doing a disservice to our home –Earth. Simultaneously, it opened our eyes to the fact that by sustaining the eco-friendly practices even after the self-quarantine and lockdown, our earth can recover beyond our imagination.

In fact, giving the ‘blue-planet’ a chance to restore its natural character will be the great service we can render for our earth and other living creatures.

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