June 5 is celebrated as World Environment Day every year. It was first observed in 1974 in the city of Spokane, USA to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment, which not only provides us with food, shelter, air and other human needs but also maintains the ecological balance on earth. To say the least, the entire human existence depends solely on environmental factors.
The theme for this year is biodiversity –– a concern that is both urgent and existential. And according to the United Nations, the theme was selected considering this year’s events, from “bushfires in Brazil, the United States, and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa – and now, a global disease pandemic.”
While the environment we live in has already become quite contaminated, World Environment Day 2020 is different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. People are locked inside their homes and the recent environment issues are proof enough that human health is linked to the planet’s health. Strangely enough, the pandemic seems to have given humans a new perspective. The way nature is slowly reclaiming the lost space with the flora and fauna booming again is proof that environment needs its breathing space as well.
After the lockdown which was imposed since 25 March to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) claimed in April that there is a significant improvement in air quality across the country. Also the restrictions on non-essential travel resulted in the same.
As for the wildlife, animals were seen roaming around in cities. Not to miss, actress Juhi Chawla, in April, had tweeted pictures of peacocks spotted at Khareghat Colony in Mumbai. In fact, several videos of a civet cat, puma as well as a Nilgai moving around in urban areas surfaced online.
Khareghat Colony , Babulnath … 🍀🍀🍀💕💕💕 pic.twitter.com/GKkOXAXvOO
— Juhi Chawla (@iam_juhi) April 1, 2020
Coming to water quality, the COVID-19 lockdown has seen the water in rivers like Ganga and Yamuna improve significantly, thanks to reduced industrial activities which has resulted in low nitrate concentration observed in the Ganga. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) also suggested that betterment of Yamuna’s water quality was supported by reduction in human activity.
The aforementioned changes is reason enough for humans to rethink their relationship with the living world, and it is rather ironical that a pandemic has managed to become the basis for their enlightened opinion.