Coronavirus impact: Reduced pollution, animals returning to natural habitat... Are humans the actual virus?
The water is back to being crystal clear in the Italian town of Venice while reduced air pollution across China could end up saving a lot of lives in the future.
Are humans the virus and coronavirus the vaccine for planet Earth? The thought sounds scary but with pollution levels dropping, water clearing up, and natural wildlife returning to their habitats, it is beginning to feel like the deadly COVID-19 might have a silver lining, at least for our planet. China, which has been the worst hit by the virus which had its origins in Wuhan, has seen a drastic reduction in air pollution, while Italy, the worst-hit non-Asian country, has seen water becoming clearer and animals returning to their natural habitats.
As the nationwide lockdown in Italy enters its second week due to the #coronavirus outbreak, Venice's canals appear to be crystal clear. Follow for live updates: https://t.co/IviOWyuNOu pic.twitter.com/yTyObHMZFX— Reuters (@Reuters) March 17, 2020
News agency Reuters reported that the canals in Venice had become 'crystal clear' after two weeks of lockdown in Italy. The town is a renowned tourist destination and one of the most popular activities for the visitors is to take boat rides. Naturally, the fossil-fuel run boats in the tourist destination results in a lot of water pollution, but with the boats decked and tourism at a stand-still, the waters have gone back to being clear and less harmful for aquatic life.
In fact, many people took to Twitter to show how the canals and waterways in Italy had become clearer thanks to the boats not running. The tweet below claimed that the photos were from Venice though others have clarified that it is actually from the Italian town of Burano.
Here's an unexpected side effect of the pandemic - the water's flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever. The fish are visible, the swans returned. pic.twitter.com/2egMGhJs7f— Kaveri ???????? (@ikaveri) March 16, 2020
Forbes reported that the coronavirus lockdown in China might have saved 77000 lives due to reduced air pollution. With factories shut and vehicles parked inside, a new analysis by a Stanford University scientist claims that the COVID-19 might have a larger positive impact in the Asian nation.
Professor Marshall Burke used data from U.S. government sensors in four Chinese cities to measure levels of PM2.5 (the tiny cause of death from air pollution). According to the reports, the scientist averaged the reduction in pollution levels and calculated the subsequent effect on mortality nationwide.
The lockdown “likely has saved the lives of 4,000 kids under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70 in China,” he wrote on G-Feed, a blog maintained by seven scientists working on Global Food, Environment and Economic Dynamic.
NASA and the European Space Agency were the first to see the effect of reduced pollution via satellite data that shows China's dramatic drop in nitrogen dioxide emissions, which mostly come from vehicles. The European Space Agency also saw a similar pattern in North Italy, with reductions in air pollution after lockdowns were put in place.
But the opinion was also met with severe criticism from activists across the globe who felt a positive spin to a deadly virus was not warranted, especially at a time when countries are battling to control the crisis. The temporary reduction in pollution might be a good thing for the environment but it didn't have to come at the cost of thousands of human lives, they argued.
The coronavirus lockdowns have however shown how much damage we human beings do to planet Earth on a daily basis. Just like in the monsoon season there are bans on fishing in India, it might be wise for us to have controlled breaks every year to allow enough time for nature to replenish. The profit-oriented approach will eventually have to be replaced by a more sustainable path if we intend to stay on this planet for a long time. Will the next-generation leaders have the political will to take a planet-first approach though?