by Shelal Lodhi Rajput 20 September 2020
The only thing that can remain static with the time is change, the phrase exactly depicts the current situation of the environment. Till April 2019 we can’t even think that we get to see an environment like, that we are witnessing today. Mankind has been so ignorant of the preservation of environmental resources and sustainable development that we had forgotten our basic duty towards nature. We have enacted the legislation for protection of the environment but how far they are successful is evident now. Finally, nature itself giving us an exemplary example and a warning in the tough times of the global pandemic of COVID 19. There is a strong indirect nexus as how the pandemic of COVID 19 affected and impacted the environment in every way
The SARS-CoV2 has generated an unprecedented and unwanted impact in multiple fields, the virus has almost affected every country. It is an emerging challenge to the global world and also an unprecedented global health emergency that ever observed. The huge hue and cry have been observed in the whole world due to its negative effect in every sense. It affected the lives of people in every way but it also has some tremendous positive effects which come from some extraordinary learnings that we need to take from this pandemic, it’s the positive effect on our environment
This article explains all about the environmental impact and nature’s warning to mankind through an indirect way of COVID 19. Die to this there are some unpredictable and unimaginable environmental changes were occurred, simply earth us reviving itself and its evident that nature is healing in the tough times when the whole world is trying to combat the pandemic. It draws our attention to the environment in a prolific way. The coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of trouble to humans but it also has some indirect positive effects in its own way, no doubt that it caused a global reduction in economic activities and a never seen challenge in the medical field but it has had a positive impact on the environment, this article explains it all with the prime theme ‘Decoding Nature’s Warning on Environment from COVID 19’ and the concept of need and greed by which we are damaging environment continuously.
Unpredictable and Unprecedented Impact
The problem of environmental-related issue is provoking since the time of industrialization, the COVID 19 pandemic is a hammering and striking image of the Anthropocene era: the impacts on the environment and nature have been so profound that they have constituted a new geological epoch. Humans have completely distorted the fragile equilibrium of our planet’s ecosystems and now we are witnessing a direct consequence.[i] The pandemic has shown us the devastation that we had done with nature and nature now itself reviving it as we are now completely inside our homes and the human activities are at halt completely, the lockdown is a preventive measure that was adopted in the whole world to combat with this pandemic and due to this, we have seen the drastic change in the environment in a positive way. The present time of pandemic offers us a lesson to learn in the field of environmental issues on every level. The present crisis has once again highlighted that improving the standard and quality of the environment is not a matter of choice but an emergency. Now the debate in the field of legal fraternity is arising about the regulation of environmental laws in this times, we don’t have to forget that we have done nothing to revive the environment in present time, we are just trying to keep ourselves protected from the COVID 19 and that acts as a tool for nature to rejuvenate and revive itself. But this shows us that we are lacking in a plethora of areas for environmental up-gradation from legal framework to social approach. Now, that we know what’s possible, the corona pandemic actually gives us a unique and watershed window of opportunity to make the structural changes needed to transition towards a fair and ecologically sustainable economic system. Our lives have changed forever. The unwanted lockdown presented us with the future potential that we have to save our environment and earth.
The impact is multidimensional on the environment, the experts are predicting that this COVID would bring the biggest decline in carbon dioxide emission after WW II (World War II) by an estimated 5% of 2019’s global total, this was published in a report by Carbon Brief.[ii] There are many other positive impacts of COVID on the environment both globally and locally, but these are the effects and impacts due to lockdown it means they are just an interim image. From here we have to see it is an opportunity for bringing out a more stringent framework and environmental laws to maintain the present status quo of the environmental conditions, the clearer skies, the freshwater, the rejuvenating wildlife, and the nurturing nature. The Global lockdown has watershed for the environment rejuvenation in an unprecedented way and is positive for the environment but due to this economy is collapsing.
Evident: Green and Clean environment vis a vis COVID 19
There is a plethora of evidence that is evident and speaking loud and clear that the earth is healing, these developments pointed a doubt and provided us with ample pf flaws that we have in the current legal regime for the protection of the environment at both global levels as well as at local level. The present time we see that action can very easily impact the environment and the earth’s sustainability. From new wind of environmental up-gradation in the coronavirus lockdown that we have never seen before, from clearer skies to reviving typical wildlife and much more, here are some principle and important environmental changes that we have seen in India due to COVIID as a positive side on the environment as follows:
1] Inhale the Past and Exhale the future: Air Quality Improved
One of the most important problems and shameful aspects for India in the fields of challenges and problems that need to be tackled in the environmental field is Air Pollution. The heart of India and the country’s capital Delhi was ranked as the most polluted city in the world by WHO in the year 2014.[iii] Now you can easily notice the bluer skies, the reason behind the low level of air pollution and cleaner skies is due to the halt on human activities.
Lockdown triggered the growth of reviving and rejuvenation of the environment as the activities of industrial sites, factories, and constructions were at a halt, it has reduced the risk of toxins to escape, in turn improving air quality. Especially, in the case of Delhi, the prime reason for the air pollution is due to vehicles and now the roads are empty so there is no emission which in tuns offer us clean air to breath even in Delhi. The Average PM 2.5 levels dropped by 71% in Delhi. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 91 cities in India are recording ‘good’ air quality.[iv]
2] Unseen become seen: Dolphins Spotted
The pandemic seems to be having positive side effects on Earth. The critically endangered species of Gangetic dolphins were spotted near the Kolkata Ghats. Also, a school of Dolphins was spotted at Marine drive after too long according to reports. The South Asian River Dolphins have been spotted back in the Ganga river after 30 years[v]Apart from the dolphins there is other wildlife that was spotted at different places or in a greater number of counts in cases of migratory birds. The prime reason behind this incidence is due to improved conditions of the environment and lower levels of pollutions, which provides clean air and clean water.
3] Ganga Rejuvenated: Fit for drinking water in Haridwar
Finally, the prime and major impact that we get to see on the environment by coronavirus is on different water bodies. This impact shows us that we are lacking once again in our legal majors for reforming Ganga as many schemes and plans were enacted for cleaning of Ganga, also we have National Mission for Clean Ganga that is also not able to meets the objective for which was framed but today just in few months river itself rejuvenates through an indirect means of COVID as all the human activities were halted on a temporary basis.
The Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board Water from Haridwar (Har-ki-Pauri) was tested and the results were watershed and a slam on the face of humanity that how much we have neglected the environment just for our benefits. The tests reveal that the water here has been classifying as ‘fit for drinking after chlorination’ for the first time in a decade.[vi]
4] Unexpected and unbelievable impacts: Miscellaneous
The list is long about the effects that we can observe in the environment about the positive effect of COVID in an indirect nexus.No doubt that nature has given us an alarming and striking warning that even today we can preserve the environment. The present time shows the major lacunae that existed in the legal framework and the needs for the reforms with more stringent measures. The experts said that the present status quo of nature was supposed to achieve by the 50th anniversary of Earth day if we follow sustainable development goals properly, but this pandemic brings down an unshackles perspective and glorious change in nature.
We already had taken into account the environmental problems that minimized due to the lockdown like air pollution, carbon emission, water pollution, and other aspects but due to the enhanced status of the environment and healthy and wealthy environment depicts some marvelous development that we can’t even imagine. In India, the Himalayan range is visible from different states from Punjab to UP, individuals who are residents of places from where the Himalaya is near reported that they can easily see the mountains now. On April 3rd, a resident of Jalandhar reported that the view of the Dhauladhar mountain range is clearly visible from the city, the distance between the range and city is of about 213 kilometres and has not been visible from the city in recent memory, he said.[vii] There are numerous other instances like this from different cities of India. The takeaway from all this is that we are lacking in the protection of the environment in our daily life and the subject of the environment is grossly neglected by us. We need more stringent environmental laws and sui generis laws for some context and to address some triggering problems.
Change is fleeting, needs to adopt a new normal.
The change is interim as once lockdowns will be lifted up, life will become normal all these things would work as they were working earlier. Factories again started which may cause carbon emissions and other pollutions. The prime example of the aforementioned heading can be seen from China, after the upliftment of lockdown China once again witnessed a rise in carbon emission and other environmental-related problems.[viii] It is only an immediate and existential threat like pandemic could have led to such a profound change so fast and reduction in problems but here we have a golden opportunity to carry on the same status quo of environment that was gifted to us by nature itself after the pandemic gets over. This is not for the first time that we have witnessing the improvement in the environment but no doubt that not of this type watershed, when we look at the history, earlier also we get to see the same but from the observation, we came to a conclusion that there existing an inverse relationship between economy and environment and that needs to be balanced by various ways like stringent laws and enforcement of new policies to the ground level and much more.
In conclusion, the takeaway from all this is that we need better implementation of the environmental laws, sui generis laws for controlling pollution on transports and industries. It should be considered a priority after the pandemic ends as further development so we can able to maintain the status quo of the environment and the type of environmental heaven that we are witnessing in the present time.