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How Covid-19 has made us realize the importance of the environment?

The pandemic has reshaped urban mobility.

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Climate change and balancing the environment has always been one of the greatest challenges of our time, so there’s a lot at stake. From rapid-rising global temperatures to shifting weather patterns, the bearings of climate change are already being felt around the globe.

The acute sense of fear, anxiety and insecurity COVID-19 has brought on all fronts; the pandemic has reshaped urban mobility. Instead of travelling to things, we’ve brought them towards us. Work from Home (WFH) is the major change that has become a part of our lives with the culture being seeped into our living rooms.

Amidst the change, we still see a silver lining in the environmental shift from life as usual. On a community level, being in an enhanced community, quarantine has allowed us to look inward and start valuing ingredients and materials produced locally, by our own neighbours and friends. Life has reverted to a certain way, where we appreciate each other more, slow down and reassess our priorities and what we truly value. The pandemic has displayed its contrasting consequence on human civilization, in the sense that, on one hand, it has caused a worldwide panic situation, but created a very positive impact on the world environment on the other. The situation today is a “reset” for nature and mankind, giving us a prospect to observe and analyze in and around. The importance of nature, mother earth and natural resources has clearly been understood by humans in this situation.

At present, when the entire world is struggling to frame proper strategies to combat Covid-19, the early lockdown implemented has shown an absolute way towards restoring the ecosystem and environment. As human activities were restricted in most areas, the natural environment of the country had started healing itself. Vehicles were hardly found on the roads resulting in almost zero emission of greenhouse gases and toxic tiny suspended particles to the environment. Due to lesser demand for power in industries, the use of fossil fuels or conventional energy sources was lowered considerably. The quality of air started to improve and all other environmental parameters such as water quality in rivers started giving a positive sign towards restoring. Smog gave way to blue skies in cities like Delhi, marine life saw increased activity, pollution levels dropped in almost all the metro cities and animals as well as birds moved around on their own accord. The Air quality indexes (AQI) in all the states of India are now in two figures (indicating moderately good quality of air) after this lockdown. Ecosystems are being greatly recovered. The pollution level in tourist spots such as forests, sea beaches, hill areas, etc. is also shrinking largely. The ozone layer has been found to have revived to some extent.

A few months of lockdown has done such a miraculous change in environmental condition which was beyond thinking for us just a year back. But it is also true that the conditions cannot be imposed forever, industries cannot be shut down for an infinite time or vehicular movement cannot be restricted for a much longer time, nevertheless, the patterns can be improved, and more responsible behaviour can be adopted.

It is a known fact that anthropogenic activities are the major cause behind degraded environmental conditions and disturbed ecology, but in the last few months, it has become evident that it can be restored significantly if enough mitigative measures and strategic government policies are planned henceforth. The pandemic could show us how the future might look with less air pollution, or it may just indicate the scale of the challenge ahead. At the very least, it should challenge governments and businesses to consider how things can be done differently after the pandemic, to hold on to temporary improvements in air quality.

Like Covid-19, climate change, biodiversity loss, and financial collapses do not observe national or even physical borders. These problems can be managed only through collective action that starts long before they become full-blown crises. The coronavirus pandemic is a wake-up call to stop exceeding the planet’s limits. After all, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate change all make pandemics more likely. Deforestation drives wild animals closer to human populations, increasing the likelihood that zoonotic viruses like SARS-CoV-2 will make the cross-species leap. Rather than simply reacting to disasters, we can use science to design economies that will mitigate the threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pandemics. We must start investing in what matters, by laying the foundation for a green, circular economy that is anchored in nature-based solutions and geared toward the public good. A recent report states that air pollution is causing a rapid increase in the death rate due to COVID-19. And, that is why there is an urgent need for cleaner air which we can get from plants and trees.

Developers construct the physical environments for families, who turn them into homes – homes we hope are filled with laughter, love, aspiration and celebration. Good housing is the cornerstone of strong communities. Covid-19 may have turned our lives upside down but it has certainly provided an opportunity for all of us to rise to the occasion during these testing times. If we learn from our failings, we can build a brighter future than the one that is currently in store for us. Let us embrace this moment of upheaval as an opportunity to start investing in resilience, shared prosperity, well-being, and planetary health. We have long since exceeded our natural limits; it is time to try something new.

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1 Comment
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