COVID - 19 - An Environmental Justice?

SARANYA S

17. 12. 2020

INTRODUCTION

Corona virus Disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that started to spread in late 2019. This disease was identified in Wuhan (China), which has now turned into a global pandemic. Most people who fell sick with COVID-19 experienced mild to moderate symptoms and recovered without any special treatment.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted, through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales.

Due to this virus, the whole world is experiencing strict lockdown /curfews to slow down the infection. The imposition of strict lockdown made all the commercial activities to stop that used to affect the environment by releasing off the waste into nature. As all the types of social, economic, industrial, and urbanization activity got suddenly shut off, nature took advantage and healed, we can see that in the quality of air, clean rivers, less noise pollution.
In India, there are COVID-19 cases currently confirmed 9.35 Million, recovered 8.76 Million, and death 1, 36,000 (28 Nov 2020).

POSITIVE EFFECT

1. Air quality
After the lockdown in many countries, there was a lesser movement of people traveling from one place to another, as there was no movement of trains, lesser cars in case of emergency and flights. Even the industries were also not in function. So, it leads to a decrease in Air pollution, and the quality of the air got improved. Before the lockdown, cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Pune had their air polluted, but after the lockdown, the results of these cities are now better.
The level of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) pollution, which can increase the risk of respiratory conditions, has also been reduced. NOx is mainly caused by high motor vehicle traffic. In Pune, NOx pollution has decreased by 43%, in Mumbai 38%, and in Ahmadabad by 50%. 39 cities have recorded good air quality, and 51 cities have recorded satisfactory air quality in the last few days by CPCB.

2. Improvement of water quality
During this pandemic situation, as there were no boats or fishing, the fishes enjoyed their freedom, and the quality of water was also better as compared to before lockdown. The water is so clear, and the water flow system is better now. The oceans were also getting better as no humans were there to make the coasts dirty. Ganga river water was getting less polluted as no humans were there to perform the rituals like a puja on the bank of the river.

3. Wildlife
As there was no fishing during this lockdown, the number of fish biomass has increased. Apart from that, animals have been moving around freely. Even turtles have been observed moving and coming out, in the past, they would fear to come out as a cause of a lot of human interference.

4. Vegetation
Plants are growing well as the air and water quality is better. The forest trees are having proper rainfall as the overall natural environment is going well. There is again no interference of humans on the forests and growing plants. The amount of oxygen and nutrients for the growth of plants are not polluted, and they grow healthy, which is better for the food cycle of the planet.

5. Decreasing demand for oil
As there were no industries, factories, manufacturing companies, and no production, the use of oil was not there. Fossil fuels are used in almost all industries to run the machines, it leads to a lot of air pollution, and the waste is also carried out to the rivers causing water pollution. As no industries were dealing with the production, no water pollution or air pollution was there. The demand for fossil fuels got automatically decreased.

NEGATIVE IMPACT

1. Increasing non-recyclable Waste
Due to the pandemic situation, there were no shops, so the demand for online shopping increased. As home delivery uses a lot of plastics for product coverage, the dependence on plastic increased. Non-recyclable plastic is disposed of in the land. This situation also leads to an increase in the production of masks, medical products, equipment, gloves, body bags, which are all non-recyclable products.

2. Increase in organic waste
Due to the sudden lockdown, transportation decreased as no vehicles were allowed. Transportation of perishable products became difficult, and many of the products got spoiled. Much hard work of the farmers and the suppliers went to waste.

3. Ecosystem at risk - Illegal deforestation
Environmental protection workers at National parks, land, marine conservation zones were at home during the lockdown, so the chances of illegal deforestation were seen increased. People cut the trees for personal uses as no one was there to guard and check the areas. The people working in tourist places also didn't have a source of income, and it also leads to an unemployment situation.

CONCLUSION

Most parts of the world have undergone a strict lockdown to overcome this situation. The entire world is locking themselves inside their homes to ensure social distancing. But as everyone are in their homes, the environment is getting better. The absence of factories, transport, and vehicles has led to no water and air pollution. Vegetation and wildlife have become better and independent because of no human interference. There is also the negative impact like the use of non-recyclable waste, which includes the use of surgical equipment, gloves, masks, and the use of plastic, which directly goes to the land and further leads to a huge problem. So, overall there has been an indirect positive impact as well as a negative impact on the Natural Environment. In my opinion, I want to conclude that there has been a good and bad impact on the environment and the humans should also understand that they are only the people who are making our Natural Environment harmful.