With over 50,000 death globally, more than a million positive cases, and hundreds of million in a lockdown, the COVID-19 has indeed taken the world at its helm. Uncountable job losses, livelihoods crushed, business’ premature death, and economies under a gloomy sky; there is no quantification of how much loss the mankind will have to bear, but there is someone, who, in the meantime, is reaping benefits even in a time like this, and that is – the Mother Nature.
From clean water sources to dramatic fall in pollution level, Coronavirus pandemic has impacted environment positively. The UN’s Environment Programme Chief, Inger Andersen said, “Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climatic cries.”
Global industrial activities are ramping down due to the ongoing lockdown faced by various countries of the world. This has led to manufacturing sites, mines and various industries being shut, and vehicles and transportation system to come to a halt as if on-a-strike. Consequently, the graph of the emission level of harmful Hydrocarbons, Oxocarbons (CO2 and CO), and Nitrous oxides have dipped considerably.
According to the revelations by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Wuhan - from where the virus had originated and which is also a major industrial hub - has recorded a 21.5% decline in the city’s air pollution levels amidst the lockdown.
A report in Carbon Brief stated that key industries in China were operating at much lower levels than during the lockdown. The oil refinery in Shandong province was operating at the lowest level since 2015, also average coal consumption at power plants reached a four-year low accounting for a 36% drop in consumption. As a result carbon dioxide emissions were reduced to 25%, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, an independent air pollution research organisation.
Many other regions are also observing significant environmental benefits as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.
Italy, after shutting down a huge portion of its economy, has seen a reduction in industrial activity across the economically vibrant northern swathe which has resulted in a decline in nitrogen dioxide emissions over the Po valley. Meanwhile, because of the shutdown of cruise and cargo ship traffic around Italy’s canal city Venice, the schools of fish are returning to the Venice lagoon and canals for the first time in decades.
New York also registered a 50% decline in carbon monoxide level which is primarily caused due to car emissions. The researchers at Columbia University also established that traffic level has reduced to 35% as compared to the data a year ago.
In the case of India, which has 6 of its cities ranked among the 10 most polluted cities of the world according to World Air Quality Report from IQAir, the Air Quality Index is shifting down from the red mark to green.
In Delhi, particulate matter (PM2.5) dropped by 30% from 165ug/m3 on March 21, a level considered as unhealthy, to 64ug/m3 on March 29, a level considered as moderate. The decreasing pattern of pollution is the same in 90 other cities where the air quality levels range from ‘good’ to ‘satisfactory’ currently. India also recorded for the lowest average level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in this spring season.
Welcoming reductions in pollution, environmentalists have asked the Government to accept it as a ‘wake-up call’ and stop its ‘obsession’ with ‘development’ at the cost of the environment.
The manifestation of positive impacts of Coronavirus on our environment is proving that nature really needed a break from us and since we were not ready to cooperate, nature took it itself.