The lockdowns enforced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have had an unintended side effect- creating a global experiment in reducing the pollution in some of the world’s busiest cities. From New Delhi to Milan, the air has become cleaner as many of the city’s inhabitants stay at home and travel rates have significantly reduced.
Scientists suggest that these emergency lockdowns can be used as an emergency measure to combat air pollution episodes like what was seen in Delhi-NCR region during the winter months. The World Health Organization estimates nearly 3 million people die every year due to illnesses caused by air pollution. The WHO further states that more than 80% of people living in urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that far exceed the required safety limits. This is much worse in low-income countries where 98% of the cities do not meet the air quality standards put forward by the WHO.
Effect on air quality
Satellite images show that during late January and early February of 2020, levels of NO2 over cities and industrial areas in Asia and Europe had decreased by as much as 40%. Two weeks following the nationwide lockdown in the United Kingdom, NO2 pollution in some cities fell by as much as 60%. NASA revealed that NO2 pollution over New York and other major metropolitan areas in the North-Eastern USA region had reduced by 30% in March 2020.
In one way, the world is conducting the largest ever global air pollution experiment. Because of the pandemic, cities are turning off major air pollutant sources in industry and transport. This has caused many officials to consider how to use the pandemic as a chance to rethink their attitude to pollution and the environment.
Since there were no fishing or pleasure boats sailing the waterways, the water has cleared up. In areas like Venice, the water became so clear that fish could be seen swimming and there was a better water flow. No doubt, because of the decrease in human activity, even the oceans are recovering and marine life is thriving.
Effect on wildlife
With regards to the fish, the lockdown has seen a decline in fishing, which means the fish biomass will increase after over-fishing nearly depleted it. Aside from that, animals have been spotted roaming about freely in areas where they would not dare to go earlier on. Even sea turtles have been spotted returning to areas where they once avoided in order to lay their eggs. This all came about thanks to the lack of human presence.
Improvement in vegetation
The resultant clean air and water has helped plants grow better. The lack of human interference also helped as well. With much of the human world at a standstill, plants are now allowed to thrive and grown, producing more oxygen in the process. The lack of litter also means river systems are not clogged up like before, making it another good thing for the environment.
While the lockdown has proved to be beneficial to the environment, there is the ever present fear that once things to back to normal and people start travelling again, the positive impact will disappear as a result. This is why products like Elegant and Biochest are becoming increasingly important in today’s world. These composters are capable of converting all kinds of organic waste into valuable, nutrient rich compost/fertilizer, making it ideal for the environment. Biochest will significantly reduce the carbon footprint generated by houses and industries, making the world a greener place.