Iman Haroon, Green Blogger

COVID-19; The Earth is Healing!

"There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew."

A famous quote by the late Mr. Marshall McLuhan where he depicts Earth as a spaceship. He says that we are not passengers on this spaceship earth, and we are not the ones to be privileged. We are not bound to take advantage of it rather we are the crew on this spaceship. It is our duty to take care of it and serve it. But from a very long time, humans have started acting as the passengers and claim to be the ones who are to be served. No doubt, this world was made for humans. But along with that humans were given a brain and a rank far above than other creatures. Humans have always taken advantage of their superiority by always using the resources unwisely. After the industrialization began, humans only faced downfall. With the passage of time release of NOx and Sox and other harmful gases became gradual which was due to increased industries, vehicles, burning of fossil fuel, deforestation etc.

Now coming to the current situation: COVID-19 and the lockdown. Events canceled, schools and other institutions closed, industries shut down, planes grounded: all this is causing a major drop in the world economy. In this ongoing global crisis, the lockdown has turned out to be beneficial in one way i.e. Improved quality of breathing air along with less emissions of harmful gasses. The temporary ban on vehicles has halted the number of diseases occurring due to bad air quality. Air pollution has been decreased considerably as a result of the reduced use of transport vehicles, decreased rate of fossil fuel burning, less production of greenhouse gases from industries or power plants. Other sources of air pollution have also been reduced. But this all is temporary and is having a great impact on the environment.

Let’s take a look at the changes occurring in Pakistan due to the lockdown:

Figure 1: Approx.  reductions in NO2 levels across key cities in Pakistan
The above map shows the level of NO2 gas reduced in Pakistan from March to April due to the lockdown. NO2 is released mainly from cars, buses, trucks etc. After the decreased number of vehicles, the level of NO2 has reduced considerably all over the country. Not just Pakistan, in fact the whole world, resulting in cleaner and breathable air. This with no doubt is not the proper way to control pollution where humans suffer and the environment heals but this is just an example of how we can, with our individual effort, maintain this good quality environment.

With deep sorrow we come to the conclusion that it is humans who have destroyed their own environment. We want good air, but we do completely nothing to keep it clean. We want greenery around us, but all we do is cut down trees. Air pollution kills about 7 million people per year. Let’s hope this cleaner environment inspires us to serve our planet and keep it clean even after the pandemic ends.

About the Author: Iman Haroon is currently doing her Bachelors in Environmental Sciences at GCWUS. She is keen to pen down the latest facts of climate and environment.