Environment,Science and the Pandemic

Representative Image | Image Credit: Nature Connects

Karun Lama

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 has so far taken scores of human lives. Since its outbreak in China last December, in no time, it affected countries of all continents, bringing a new threat to human existence. Having all major countries under lockdown, the global economy comes under recession, the highest blow post-great depression of 1930. As our country, too, is under lockdown since last 25th March, it has greatly impacted the lives of people of all walks.

However, as the popular adage goes – “Everything comes with both pros and cons”, this pandemic, too, brings some positive impacts as far as our environment is concerned. Although this comes at a great cost of human lives as well as a moribund economy, having said this, can we consider this crisis as a blessing in disguise? Well, to get a clear picture, let us pay a glance on some eye-catching aspects amid our fight against this 2020 pandemic.

Firstly, as countries are lockdown all over, the global carbon emission has drastically fallen this year, which is a good sign of environmental gain. Due to transportations and industries being almost completely curbed down, today the choke cities are having the cleanest air, the scenario of which was not evident in many years in the past decades. As pollution and green-house gases fall drastically across continents, the ozone layer is reported to have healed now.

Secondly, water quality in the rivers has improved. As the industries being shutdown, the wastes going into rivers have come to a halt. Hence, self-cleaning of rivers such as the Ganga, and the Yamuna are happening which had never turned into a reality despite repeated efforts by the government. This has miraculously improved the under-water bio-diversity.

Thirdly, wildlife is seen to have greatly improved amid this pandemic. As humans stay confined at homes, wildlife is being witnessed coming out of their comfort zone of nature. It’s an irony how in normal days, animals are caged in the zoo while humans move freely, but it’s completely opposite now. This can certainly be taken as nature’s call and truth to realize that the mother Earth doesn’t solely belongs to only humans. Humans are just a part of it. Although we consider ourselves as the superior to all living creatures, however, rest (non-humans) also have an equal share in the ecosystem. This is a great lesson to be learned from this pandemic which we must never forget. Moreover, human-animal interactions shall have to be minimized which means the increasing desire of humans to have the animals in their menu list is what that has to be stopped. Arguably, this has also come to light about the wet markets wherein China has the largest in the world might definitely be the place where the ongoing crisis has an outburst. Be it SARS, Ebola, Nipah, etc. all of these have a history of cause on such human interactions with animals and other creatures. Hence, our part in the safety of biodiversity has always been very little.

Although in the era of the modern world of science and technology, countries have progressed much in the field of medical science, yet this COVID-19 have proved how we lack in our abilities to take quick response in dealing with such a crisis. It’s appalling to see the most advanced countries having the best medical facilities are failing to prevent people from dying due to this contagion. Somewhere it tells us that, albeit science has progressed, nature remains a vast subject that cannot be explored entirely. It also gives us a moral lesson that nothing else can be more precious to a person than his own life and his family. However, keeping all these aside, the world waits for the vaccine/ medicine to come out which will save humanity from this tiny creature. While many researchers are on their way to develop the same, we need to keep faith in medical science and continue to follow all the precautionary and the preventive measures.

Also to mention, akin to this 2020 pandemic, another slow yet anthropogenic global crisis is the climate change which humans have not realized yet. This is a slow pandemic whose repercussions would be unimaginable. For a few of us, the future of many may surely be compromised, if countries don’t come up to act collectively sooner than later.

With the on-going pandemic, there emerge some new norms such as work-from-home, study-from-home, etc. and these would remain as alternatives even in post-COVID days. But as the economy is badly affected, post-COVID days would remain gloomy in poverty and emerging issues of unavailability of food and security. Well, as of now, how well the government’s economic stimulus package and measures would relieve the burdens of its citizens is a matter to wait and watch.

However, the environmental gains occurring miraculously amid this pandemic if taken for granted and if the industries are re-started in such a way to cope up the losses ignoring the environmental norms once the lock-down is lifted, it would cause more harm than ever. In order to revive the ailing economy, we need to devise sustainable recovery plans which both create economic revivals as well as take care of nature and environmental concerns.

(The author can be reached at [email protected])


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