Impact of the COVID 19 Lockdown on our Environment

COVID 19 has taken the world by storm. Many of us hardly anticipated the colossal event at the onset of the new year leaving billions of people incarcerated while simultaneously causing a significant damage to livelihoods. Life has indeed come to a stand still for human beings but life otherwise seems to be thriving in this momentary respite to Planet Earth imposed by a single celled organism. As the earth breathes fresh air, pockets of stillness engulf the streets of populous cities as even the faintest sounds of birds can be heard, producing some beautiful compositions most of us haven’t heard in a while. Sunrise and sunsets look like paintings while cleaner air has paved the way for some mesmerising views of mountain ranges. With Industries and religious activities coming to a halt, rivers that were once plagued by effluents look spotless and renewed with new life. Not only has the virus may have affected our most vulnerable traits of being human but it has also demonstrated our planet’s regenerative powers to heal itself –

  1. Cleaner Air and Water

It hardly took a week for most of us to notice the radical transformation of city skylines. Puffs of white clouds can be seen floating amidst the vast expanse of blue skies. In India, the visibility in cities has improved so dramatically that citizens living in the state of Punjab can witness panoramic view of snow clad peaks of the Himalayas from their backyard. A phenomenon being witnessed nearly after 30 years. Lakes, creeks, rivers and drains too have turned noticeably clean, a feat many sanctioned projects in the past couldn’t accomplish. Ganga and Yamuna that were previously subjected to heavy doses of industrial pollutants, now flow with very little contamination. it’s safe to say that the drastic decline in the number of vehicles on road and production plants ceasing to operate for the time being the air quality has contributed to radical reduction in emissions. Inhaling copious amounts of harmful gases in the past has lead to serval respiratory issues in many but as the earth breathes, so do we.

  1. Silence, Tranquility and Bird Song

It seems as though the loud incessant chatter of traffic and human activity has stopped for the time being. With lesser honking of vehicles and the chaos riddled daily bustle, silence has gently enveloped the atmosphere, punctuated with a medley of complex bird songs. Summer is the harbinger of the breeding season for many bird species. During this time, they sing in a manner that could easily rival the compositions of great musicians. Asian Koels and Kingfishers in India’s cities are particular vocal about now. Often lost in the sounds of the cityscape, they usually find it extremely challenging to be heard but now with noise levels at a bare minimum they can be calls travel over distances as they reclaim territories and seek out a potential mate. For us, it’s a sheer pleasure to just to listen and observe these remarkable beings.

  1. Resurgence of Wildlife

While we stay in the confines of our homes, wildlife has been far more adventurous than we had imagined. With streets currently devoid of human activity, some of the animals that reside within the fringe of metropolitan cities have become increasingly comfortable to roam about. Cities such as Chandigarh have not only recorded sightings of serval herbivores but also some big cats, mostly leopards, that have dropped their nocturnal veil and adopted a more crepuscular behavior. Elephants too seem to be reveling during this crisis as they traverse corridors undeterred in our absence while Mumbai is witnessing a 25 % increase in the congregation of Lesser Flamingos since last year. Its signs such as these that reinstate the fact that in our absence, nature has the capacity to revive with a great resurgence.

  1. Healthier Alternatives

The lockdown in several ways has got us living within our means. Restricted to a limited number of options in terms of consumption, this crisis has compelled us to adapt to more of a minimalist lifestyle that we should consider. Since most supply chains have been completely disrupted by the curtailment of movement, we now buy only the bare essentials we absolutely need, doing away with the excessive plastic packaging prevalent in our lives. This has decreased the waste generated from homes by a considerable margin. Also, with restaurants temporarily closed and limited items in stock even at most supermarkets, many people have become gradually more mindful when it comes wasting food. Even with the virus looming large, ensuring better practices for ourselves by incorporating exercise, meditation and nutrient rich diets is the only way we can boost our immune system to ward of infectious diseases. This is the best we can do for not only ourselves but the planet as a whole.

None of us truly wished to be in such a situation. Even with the some of the benefits the virus has had on our planet, it has rattled us as a species, restraining our longing for community. Therefore, it is imperative that we craft a more sustainable path which helps us convert these short term impacts into long term solutions that will lead us adopt a better future in the post coronavirus era.

As the quote below rightfully sums it up…

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”

Wendell Berry

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