Nature may heal….. this what may happen if we stay in lockdown for longer? The air will be cleaner, the water will be purer, and the Earth will heal from what we have done to it for years. Here are eight signs of that happening already. Yes, it isn’t the best of times. But with people quarantined and human activity minimized, this lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus has brought an absolute beauty with it.
Well, the attraction has always been around, only shrouded in air, water and noise pollution. Now, a month into the restrictions, we already see signs that the Nature is healing:
Despite its sacred status and various rejuvenation plans, the Ganga remained a severely polluted river. But with industries shut and no effluents are flowing into the river, plus lack of activity at the ghats due to the lockdown, the Ganga is now cleaner than ever. The water at Har Ki Pauri, the famous ghat on the banks of the river in Haridwar, has now been declared fit for drinking. Even in Varanasi, with factories shut and no one bathing or using the ghat as a public toilet, the river water has improved by “40 to 50 percent”.
Foam Free Yamuna
We must have all seen those infamous images of devotees during Chhat Puja taking a dip in filthy water nearly invisible beneath the toxic foam. But in just a month, the Yamuna has transformed to such an extent that it’s almost unrecognizable. Shutting down factories, which in turn cut off the discharge of industrial pollutants into the river, did more in 30 days than what any cleanup mission could do in years.
With many countries imposing lockdowns and curbing most human activity over the last few months, residents of several cities around the world have had a much-needed breather to Nature. Literally. This drop-in pollution level due to a decline in air travel, road traffic, and other business activities has been observed across Europe, including in Italy, France, and the United Kingdom, as well as in China, India, Colombia, Brazil, and the United States. In China, per estimates, the drop in air-pollution may even have saved over 77,000 lives.
In Punjab, cleaner air isn’t the only perk of a drop in air pollution in Nature. For the first time in 30 years—the first time for many—residents of Jalandhar could see the Dhauladhar range over 200km away, all the way in Himachal Pradesh. It was earlier in April that residents were stunned stupid by the sheer beauty of the Himalayas, for years obscured behind smog from stubble burning.
Wildlife is Free to move
Goats in Wales, ducks in Paris, peacocks in Mumbai. Animals the world over appear to be making the most of the lack of human presence, venturing out to spaces they would usually steer clear of. From Wales and Chile to Japan and Mumbai—wildlife is taking advantage of the unfamiliar quiet and having some fun of their own in Nature.
No Seismic Activity
Since countries placed lockdown measures in place, there’s been about a one-third drop in seismic noise, which is the hum of vibrations in the planet’s crust. Researchers at the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels believe it’s a result of transport networks and other human activities being shut down. Lower human-induced seismic noise means detectors may be able to spot smaller earthquakes and better monitor volcanic activity and other seismic events. This decline of human activity has enhanced the sensitivity of the observatory’s equipment, allowing it to detect waves in the same high-frequency range as the seismic noise.
No Wildlife Trading
Although it remains to be proven beyond doubt, the coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China, which has put a spotlight on the global wildlife trade. The consumption of wild animals poses a real threat to human health, says Adam Peyman of Humane Society International. The wet market-COVID link has boosted calls to have such markets shut down worldwide.
Recovering Marine Life
Trawlers and fishing vessels are docked. Hotels and restaurants are closed. The global demand for seafood had plummeted. The result? The rebound of seafood stocks in the oceans and marine life recovering on the whole. While researchers are in the process of compiling data, and evidence of marine life recovery is still anecdotal, the sudden rise in the presence of mammals, such as dolphins and seals, in places they hadn’t been seen for years proves that a change is underway. There were similar recoveries after World War I and II.