By Armaan Khan
Despite the corona infection threatening the world, it has some brighter side too. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues its blow, one can witness dramatic changes in people’s lives. And it already overshadowed other medical problems. Doctors and researchers notice unexpectedly positive side effects of the abrupt shifts in human behaviors in response to the pandemic. Moreover, prolonged lockdown is relieving nature with a reduction in human activities. Skies are bluer, fewer vehicles are running, the crime rate is falling and some other infectious diseases are moving away.
Due to the lockdown, the pollution level fell dramatically and still heading down. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a toxic gas liberated from buses, cars, factories, etc. According to WHO, NO2 causes significant inflammation of the airways (lungs and trachea) at concentrations above 200 micrograms/m3. Now, vehicles and factories are under shutdown which results in the decrement of NO2 concentrations. Polluted cities like Kathmandu, Delhi, Beijing, etc. have experienced 100-200% of the decrement of NO2 toxic gas in the air. In most of the cities of Nepal like Biratnagar and Birgunj, the concentration of NO2 is falling dramatically.
Particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) is one of the most harmful forms of air pollution. It lies in the group I cardiogenic category. PM 2.5 is a microparticle which moves from lungs to the bloodstream and causes respiratory problems like asthma, heart attack, and causes premature death. According to the WHO, more the 4 million people are dying due to PM 2.5 every year. As a result of the lockdown, the concentration of PM 2.5 falls dramatically and saves millions of lives.
These are the reasons behind the bluer sky and clear stars during the night as we see in the photos of Kathmandu. This prompted the addition of beauty in nature.
Researchers from Stanford University have collected the data of PM 2.5 from different cities of China and compared them with mortality rate. They conclude that the lockdown is likely to save 77000 lives in China just by reducing air pollution in 1 month.
The high amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission causes climate change and greenhouse effects. Lockdown triggered a significant fall in carbon emission by approx. 5%. According to the chair of a network of scientists, the decline could be the largest since world war II.
With the days coming back to normal after the lockdown, the carbon emission and pollution revive too. But till then a lot of industries might already face complete loss compelling workers to be jobless. The government can act on such circumstances to push the renewable energy industry. Gradually, the government should focus more on renewable energy. The lockdown experience can be a milestone for purifying nature.