As the evening falls and the temperature drops with it, one can smell summer during the evenings and nights. The smell of grass, flowers, leaves in clean air reaches one’s room. The skies are clearer and bluer and full of hues, rendering all the photo editing tools useless. The air feels lighter and cleaner, water more transparent, and the only thing littering the streets and roads are the leaves and branches fallen from the trees. Earth Day, this year, is one of a kind as it completed 50 years.
COVID-19, that has affected more than 190 countries across the world, is posing an unprecedented challenge for which none of us, in the present century, were prepared. When more than half the world was forced to shut down as the spring arrived earlier this year due to a pandemic, it had an unexpected impact globally.
The air quality around the world has improved drastically and the level of pollution has cut by as much as 60% as factories and air and road traffic have been stopped. The water in rivers and lakes is clearer due to the lack of ships and boats, and sightings of unique animals and mountain ranges are reported which has not happened in decades.
With the human interference in nature reducing drastically, Earth has started showing signs of getting healed. However, it is fairly temporary and the situation will worsen once the lockdown is lifted. Even with a number of positive news in terms of air quality, the effect of COVID-19 on the environment will be immense due to an increase in the production of bio-medical wastes. Single-use plastic is being used more to deliver food to people as they stay at home to prevent the spread of disease. Most of this waste is not being recycled due to the fear of virus propagation. A few incidences of illegal deforestation, poaching, and fishing have also come forward in nature conservation zones as the surveillance has to be shut due to the pandemic.
The few positives that happened during the global lockdown which this Earth Day is witnessing is all set to be eclipsed by the negatives when the world goes back to being as it was before the lockdown. Besides the inevitable rise in global air pollution, overexploitation of natural resources to balance the economy and increase employment will also be witnessed when the pandemic is over.
It is just a matter of time that humans being as selfish they are, return things the way they were before the pandemic hit the world.
The world did not need a pandemic for the people to realize the benefits of being responsible towards nature. The environment around the world has been degrading at an alarming rate for the past decade and still, no effective means have been implemented to conserve and reverse the effects of extensive exploitation of resources for the benefit of humans.
The reason why a pathogen that is usually found in animals managed to enter the human body is primarily because of human encroachment is animal territories. There are millions of other virus strains and pathogens in animals, which can reach humans and prove to be far more dangerous and with a higher mortality rate than the current COVID-19. As we destroy the homes of wildlife and force our way into their territories, we leave the human population vulnerable to these diseases.
It is, therefore, immensely crucial for all us to do our part and protect the world we will get in our lives to live. A healthy environment would result in a healthy human being at risk of lesser diseases. Maintaining a balanced eco-system and respecting the needs of animals, trees and every necessary ecological entity is essential and needs to be implemented urgently. For even if humans manage to find another life-sustaining planet within this galaxy, reaching it will not be possible any time soon if we destroy our home.
This Earth Day, let us all pledge to not ignore our duties towards our world and do our part in improving the health and well-being of the environment and our planet.