As millions across the globe are participating in quarantine inside their homes, nature has began to enjoy its newfound opportunities of freedom. Freedom from the relentless human impacts, as our usual daily activities are limited and put on hold. However, even though the pandemic has allowed for these unexpected effects, they are unlikely to last. Nevertheless, I think these events are important to understand in order to realize how human activity has direct, undeniable relationships with nature.
According to the World Health Organization’s timeline, the first Coronavirus patient was declared on December 31st, 2019, in the city of Wuhan, China. Since then, the virus has spread to other countries like Italy, Spain, and the United States. It goes without saying that any pandemic that endangers innocent lives is not a good thing, but there has been other effects that should not go unnoticed.
Scientists first noticed decreasing levels of nitrogen dioxide after capturing satellite images over China, and although this discovery did not mean that all air pollution had disappeared, communities in Wuhan took to social media to share the beautiful blue sky. For the first time in 30 years the Himalayan mountains were visible for residents in northern India 200 kilometers away, as allowed by the drop in pollution levels.
Lower air pollution levels were also documented in Italy, although the country also witnessed unique changes in their waterways. In Venice, canals that were before murky with tourist pollution have become crystal clear, the absence of traffic from boats and cruise ships have inspired the fish to return (and even the swans!).
In the months that humans have been confined to their homes nature has already began to benefit, taking advantage of a sharp drop in tourism and overall less human activity. Unfortunately, these positive changes will be reversed once quarantine is over, as “normal” daily life thrives off of the processes and production that lead to the intoxicating pollution.
Nevertheless, these small events are important when considering how changing our way of life would be extremely beneficial to the health of our planet, and of our own public health. As the blue skies returned to China, the Himalayas in India, and the swans in Italy, I’d like to believe mother nature was giving us a sneak peak as to what our lives could be like if we were willing to reinvent our walks of life.
With these new fun facts and update about the world around us, I hope you are all staying safe indoors and enjoying time with your loved ones.
References: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/08-04-2020-who-timeline—covid-19, https://www.iflscience.com/environment/the-unexpected-impact-of-a-pandemic-on-the-environment-/, https://cleantechnica.com/2020/04/21/himalayas-visible-for-the-first-time-in-30-years-in-india/