Sky is blue, the air is fresh, rivers are clean and wildlife in retreat. This was a dream once for us and we must have used these phrases as reference. Well not sure about wildlife! But look what happens when your phrases turn true. It was a dream for most of us, people used to travel far into the woods to get fresh air for their lungs, sense the blueness of the sky and feel the freshness around them. Well this is all around us courtesy of the environmental changes wrought by the COVID-19
New York. Pic. courtesy thediplomaticaffairs.com
A deserted riverside around the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Getty Images
Water in Venice, Italy’s Canal. Pic. Courtesy: CNBC.com
Within the days of lockdown, we have seen the dirty brown belt of pollution getting shrunk as industries closed and motorways are empty. Air quality has improved tremendously as Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide have seen a sharp fall of around 50% in some regions and it keeps on improving with every passing day of lockdown. At least it means better air quality thus reducing the risks of asthma, heart attacks, and lung disease.
While human is suffering and the global death toll is over 130,000 people, nature is for sure breathing and taking a personal timeout. Is it a small sneak peek into the world without fossil fuels? Maybe yes and if we are looking at a healthier and cleaner world after this horror then we need to make long terms political decisions
After decades of exploitation and increasing pressure on our footprints, we have come to a point where everything is literally coming to standstill. Air traffic has gone down by 90%, road traffic has fallen by 70%, waste emission from factories has dropped by 50%.
According to key environmental indices, carbon emission was 20% down in China which is the biggest source of carbon. This cut can be equivalent to more than half of smaller countries like the UK’s annual output. Similar trends have been observed in India, Europe, and the US, where up to 60% of fall has been monitored. With such huge numbers, I am sure our planet is going to see the first global emission fall in a long time.
Pic. Courtesy: NASA Earth Observatory
There are so many industries that got impacted by COVID-19 but one in particular “Oil and Gas” has the maximum impact. This industry is the biggest source of carbon emission and causing heating the planet and disrupting our weather systems. Since lockdown, we have seen a sharp fall in oil prices with fewer vehicles on the road and planes in the air. Till about 2nd week of April, Oil prices were down by two-thirds compared to last year. Finally, all the all producing countries have jumped to rescue the declining oil prices by reducing the production by 20%.
Air pollution has plunged in most areas due to COVID-19. This pandemic provides a glimpse of just how quickly we could clean our environment with renewable. But at the same time all these gains could prove temporary and could go up when lockdown will be lifted. To keep the check on levels we really need some serious systemic changes in our energy infrastructures or we will go back to where we were.
Organizations like the UN, European Climate Foundation, scientists, and activists are making an effort for an urgent public debate on green jobs, clean energy, building efficiency, infrastructure, and strengthening global policies. Leading scientists across the globe have signed a joint open appeal for governments to use shifts in measures for a greener earth.
These 2 months have changed the way we think about change. The space looks different, unthinkable is now thinkable, positions are shifting, conservatives are approving trillions of dollars for healthcare & emergency spending, Democracies are going under lockdown, business is evolving and most importantly political focus has shifted to collective well-being.
All positives happening around us but can we make an ecological call to make consumption of resources more realistic and desirable? We need to fight this battle looming over climate and biodiversity together. Remember we all are in this together and if any opportunity works for one, then it will work for us.