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MAY 2020  
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Nature is Healing: Is Nature Healing Itself? At Least Breathing Peacefully for a While

Not yet termed as a 'pandemic' by the United Nations, global warming, animal exploitation and trade, noise and light pollution, Australian bushfires, locust invasion in Kenya, are some of the greatest environmental pandemics that we have been constantly witness to and responsible for. These emergencies, which call for an equally severe lockdown and restraint, however, have not been able to send a shiver down our spine, because they have had no drastic measurable affects as such on mankind.  

While we blamed and cursed COVID-19 for shutting our lives down for a while, we failed to realize that all these decades, we have tormented Mother Earth the same way, not allowing her to breathe in peace, compelling her to slap a mask on her face. But for a change, there was a role reversal due to the outbreak of the virus, which shut us behind doors and let Mother Nature breathe peacefully for a while, and here’s how.

Dignity for Animals

Amid the outbreak, issues relating to animal cruelty and trade, which are conveniently brushed under the rug were finally brought to the surface. The belief that humans are invincible and superior to animals was shaken to the core as the very source of COVID-19 was reportedly traced to a market that slaughtered wild animals live for human consumption. Most of these were exotic animals that were transported in pitiable circumstances. The animals were locked in cages together with barely any place to move. As a result, the animals were stressed and excreted pathogens. Once in human contact, these animal bodily fluids gave birth to new diseases and viruses. Many countries are guilty of following such practices that torment animals. Illegal wildlife trade is a booming industry that is worth  huge amount of money today.

Just as close contact with humans poses a threat to wildlife, humans are also put at risk when in close contact with animals. Over the years, there has been an increased contact between animals and humans. Left with little option for their habitats following the conscious burning down of forests, deforestation and climate change, animals make home wherever possible. Besides, activities like mining, destruction of natural habitat to accommodate humans are other factors that contribute to this contact between humans and animals.

However, with the onslaught of coronavirus, things are beginning to change slightly as animals, especially the endangered species are venturing out to reclaim their space as humans are in the confines of their home. It was a pleasant surprise to sight the nilgai in NOIDA and olive turtles in Odisha.

Curbing Carbon Emissions

We can also credit COVID-19 for leading to a dramatic decline in the otherwise increasing levels of carbon emissions. If statistics are anything to go by, following the outbreak of the virus, which put air travel services to a halt, shut down factories temporarily and put a stop on mining activities, the global emissions have declined by about a whopping 200 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is said to have a positive impact on the climate change.

Degrowth

Degrowth refers to a phenomenon whereby sectors that are detrimental for the environment, such as mining, oil refining and fossil fuel industries consciously slow down growth in order to stay within the stipulated environmental limits. This warning is currently being heeded and followed seriously by developed countries, which could lead the world on the trajectory of green economies.

Besides, with more and more people working from home, there are fewer energy demands and people at home are truly ringing a new social order, albeit temporarily, by consciously conserving energy. Besides, there is no traffic congestion at all, which is good news for the environment. The air quality has improved and noise pollution has reduced considerably during the lockdown period. The shutdown of businesses, factories and organizations has led to decline in demand for energy by around 15 per cent all around the world.

That apart, social distancing has curbed large gatherings, thereby causing a reduction of food wastage that often eventually ends up in landfills, consequently contributing to a peak in greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, one could safely assume that environmentally, the coronavirus has been somewhat of a blessing in disguise.

Better Air Quality

There has been a dramatic fall in the levels of nitrogen dioxide (a serious air pollutant) in Northern Italy and China. In February alone, the number of good quality air days increased to a significant 21.5 per cent in China when compared with the same period in year 2019. The people of Jalandhar, Punjab were greeted by the view of the Dhauladhar Mountain Range on April 3, 2020. This is extraordinary because the mountain range hasn’t been visible for many decades, thanks to the industrial pollution and smog. Its visibility was a result of cleaner air in the city because of the lockdown. In Beirut in Lebanon, a city known for its high levels of pollution, the skies have begun to appear much clearer than ever before.

The Ganga Becomes 'Pure' Again

Closer to home, the Ganga River, though considered pure and sacred by Indians since time immemorial, has been ironically used for purposes such as washing clothes, bathing, and immersion of idols. Unfortunately, the river has bore resemblance to a sewer, thanks to the massive dumping site that it has been transformed into by humans. Unfortunately, such grave challenges confronting the river have been swept under the rug for decades. The lockdown has been nothing short of a miracle for the River, which has healed greatly from the pollution that it has been subjected to. As per a report, a halt in industrial projects, absence of the influx of pilgrims, absence of pollutants that can be traced to dharamshalas and hotels have led to a colossal 500 per cent decline in the total dissolved solids (TDS). The water has become so pure that marine life is visible in its waters. At the same time, migratory birds have also been spotted near the Ganga River.  The lockdown has imbued life once again into the waters of the Ganga and that is something to hail!

In Italy, the Venice Canal was once again a sight to marvel over as its water was cleaner and brighter than before. Surprisingly, dolphins, various types of fish never seen before and swans have begun to appear in the waters around the world out of nowhere!

Migratory Birds Are Making a Comeback! 

Amidst the lockdown, Navi Mumbai woke up to a spectacular view in the backwaters near the housing complex in Nerul. People could not believe their eyes as they saw a big bunch of flamingos flocking around the water body. Several people took to social media to report this development and posted pictures in unprecedented numbers. It was heart-warming that several of them voiced their support for the pink friends by asking authorities to rescue the wetlands so that they (pink flamingos) could grow in numbers. 

Some Unanswered Questions

All said and done, the vexing question that arises is-will it take a lockdown and a virus infection for the environment to heal? Will it need human beings to be locked in the confines of their homes for the animal kingdom to survive and thrive in what is their natural habitat? There are no answers to these questions. Only time will tell. 

Namrata Gulati Sapra is a passionate freelance writer whose interest lies particularly in art, literature, environment, and spirituality. She also enjoys writing about the Indian Army.

   
© TERI 2020
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Nominations open for CSP Today India awards 2013


The inaugural CSP Today India awards ceremony takes place on March 12, and CSP developers, EPCs, suppliers and technology providers can now be nominated.

CSP has made tremendous progress since the announcement of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission in 2010. With Phase I projects now drawing closer to completion, the first milestone in India’s CSP learning curve is drawing closer. CSP Today has chosen the next CSP Today India conference (12-13 March, New Delhi) as the time for the industry to reflect upon its progress and celebrate its first achievements.

At the awards ceremony, industry leaders will be recognized for their achievements in one of 4 categories: CSP India Developer Award, CSP India Engineering Performance Award, CSP India Technology and Supplier Award, and the prestigious CSP India Personality of the Year.

Matt Carr, Global Events Director at CSP Today, said at the opening of nominations that “CSP Today are excited to launch these esteemed awards, which will enhance the reputation of their recipients. I am particularly excited to launch the CSP India Personality of the Year award, a distinguished honor for the industry figure deemed worthy by their peers.”

All eyes will be on the CSP Today India 2013 Awards when nomination entry closes on February 4 and the finalists are announced on February 11. The awards are open to all industry stakeholders to nominate until February 4 at
http://www.csptoday.com/india/awards-index.php or by e-mail to [email protected]

Contact:
Matt Carr
+44 (0) 20 7375 7248
[email protected]