Coronavirus Through Mother Earth’s Eye

-Sabhyata Nepal

The lack of noise in one of the busiest streets of the world can be unimaginable. Empty public transport, quiet street, vacant parks, closed bars and restaurants, locked-down cities and self-isolating families have forcedly become a part of this strange Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has given Earth the moments it had long been longing for. 

When coronavirus was first detected; the idea of locked-down cities guarded by armed police forces would be seen nothing less than a paranoid disaster movie. Two days after the confirmation of an outbreak in the town of Italy, modernised 21st-Century life in the town has come to a halt. From being a 1,000-year-old town with cafes and old churches, the place has, now, become a silent one.

Italy has had its own festivals of singing and music from balconies, with an opera singer delivering Puccini over the rooftops of Florence like some kind of impressive soundtrack ensuring and motivating people to look at the bright side. After all, hope is what makes us want to see the next day.

Venice has been known as the “La Dominante,” “Serenissima,” “Queen of the Adriatic,” “City of Water,” “City of Masks,” “City of Bridges,” “The Floating City,” and “City of Canals.” It was the greatest seaport in late medieval Europe and the continent’s commercial and cultural link with Asia. As a result of the coronavirus, the crowds of tourists have vastly reduced. As an effect, the usually polluted waters of the canals are clearer than any time the locals can think of. Seaweeds can be seen, fishes are visible, swans returned and the dolphins have been spotted in the port.

“The canal is definitely clearer, you just have to look at the canal when water is very calm. There are no boats, there is no traffic. Definitely it is cleaner,” said Venice resident Serguei Michtchenk in an interview with France24.

In China, satellite images from NASA and the European Space Agency have shown a noteworthy reduction in nitrogen dioxide pollution in the early months of this year after much of the country went into lockdown. While in New York, scientists at Columbia University reported a 5-10 per cent drop in CO2 emissions this week as traffic levels fell 35 per cent and a solid drop in methane as well. Traffic levels in the city were estimated to be down 35% compared to a year ago. Emissions of carbon monoxide, mainly due to cars and trucks, have fallen by around 50% these days, according to researchers at Columbia University.

An analysis carried out for the climate website Carbon Brief suggested there had been a 25% drop in energy use and emissions in China over a two week period. Experts believe that this is likely to lead to an overall fall of about 1% in China’s carbon emissions this year. China and Northern Italy, both have listed significant fall in nitrogen dioxide, which is related to reduced car journeys and industrial activity. The gas is both a serious air pollutant and a powerful warming chemical.

Economic shockwaves have happened too. According to the International Labour Organisation, the virus will destroy 25 million jobs worldwide. It’s unusual to agree that such a chain of events, with so much chaos and destruction, might have been caused by a single bat in China. While financial markets describe unpredictable disasters as “black swans”, the common question that arises is whether the billions wiped off the value of shares could have started with a small bat.

Don’t you feel like Earth is testing Darwin’s Theory of Evolution: Survival of the Fittest?

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