Everyone will hope that the Coronavirus crisis unfolding across the globe ends as soon as possible. But while making an estimate on that remains as difficult as it can be, for a post virus world, it is important we don't forget the possibilities we saw in a world with a significant drop in pollution. forced on us.
The images, shared on social media, were one of the few bright spots of the day day for many. Starting off with pollution readings that bit lows not seen in years, to animal sightings close to urban areas where they had all but disappeared.
When people of #Jalandhar saw #Dhauladhar range first time ever. Dhualdhar’s mountain ranges lies at a distance of 213 kms from Jalandhar. This is how pollution made us blind !! PC Net. pic.twitter.com/Q0qNmaybJw
— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) April 3, 2020
This has been followed in the past few days with reports, and yes, pictures, of rivers that are cleaner, without the load of industrial effluents. Lesser water withdrawal has also improved river flow.
Ganga flows cleaner in Haridwar, Varanasi as industrial discharge remains low amid lockdown https://www.aninews.inundefined pic.twitter.com/KEOHs7RezK
— TN Haokip (@tn_haokip) April 5, 2020
However, even in this period of ‘relief’ for the earth, some numbers have continued their seemingly unstoppable march. Carbon Diaoxide levels in the atmosphere have continued to breach new limits, and were last testing 416 parts per million, a new high. For contrast, the global carbon dioxide level was around 250 ppm around the beginning of the industrial revolution. Current levels were last seen ore than 800,000 years ago, when the Earth was actually 2-3 degrees higher than it is . Arresting this rise remains the biggest climate challenge of our times, requiring effort that might eventually dwarf the lockdowns we are seeing worldwide, if something is not down quickly.
The big question is, as the world limps back to ‘normal’, will it be the same old normal? Or can we hope for a new normal, where we strive to aim for, or retain the best of what the lockdown has shown us? Be it cleaner rivers, cleaner air, less mindless consumption that drains down resources? Because, for many people, ‘what could have been’ is no longer a story told by their parents, or a fleeting memory , barely believable. It’s a reality that millions have been able to see, if only we give the earth a chance.