Pollution Reduction During Lockdown. Myth or Reality? #A-ZChallenge2020

After the lockdown began in Europe, there were tweets claiming that nature was reclaiming its space. Dolphins were returning to the Italian coasts while swans were seen floating in the Venetian canals. However, soon it was said that those tweets were spreading fake news. Nevertheless, many more birds are indeed roaming the canals of Europe.

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Undoubtedly, the air quality of cities across the world is improving due to the lockdown that is being imposed by the government of many countries. There is a stunning decrease in atmospheric nitrogen dioxide over urban areas. Paris levels are down nearly 55%, with Rome, Milan, and Madrid all approaching 50% reductions compared to normal.

In Delhi, air quality index (AQI) levels are usually a severe 200 on a good day (anything above 25 is deemed unsafe by The World Health Organization). During peak pollution periods last year they soared well into a life-threatening 900 and sometimes off the measurable scale. But as Delhi’s 11million registered cars were taken off the roads and factories and construction were ground to a halt, AQI levels have regularly fallen below 20. While India’s powerful car lobby has long disputed that cars are a major cause of Delhi’s pollution, Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment, said the lockdown and resulting rapid drop in pollution showed once and for all just what a polluting role vehicles had in the city.

It is not just Delhi experiencing the clearest skies in years. As pollution dropped to its lowest level in three decades this week residents of Jalandhar in Punjab woke up to an incredible sight in the distance: the Dhauladhar mountain range in Himachal Pradesh. The peaks, which are over 120 miles away, had not been sighted on the Punjab horizon for almost 30 years.

SBS Language | Himalayas visible for first time in 30 years as ...

While a drop in transportation during the coronavirus lockdowns has led to lower pollution levels across the world, the slowdown in traffic has also lowered another big polluter: Noise.

Birds — by far the most visible animals found in cities, and also the most vocal — stand to be among the biggest beneficiaries of quieter streets and parks. The signals birds send each other through song is a means of survival. Without the ability to sing, hear and be heard, birds would have a difficult time finding a mate or defending their territory from predators. Apart from birds many other animals like snails, whales and other sea animals are also benefitting.

Amchi Mumbai is also getting relief from air and noise pollution. These days I get to hear the chirping of birds instead of honking of cars from my window. I also get to see more birds and they look happier and chattier. We Mumbaikars were used to a grey sky but these days we get to see a clear blue sky. At night the stars are also clearly visible. The other day, I could actually show a constellation of stars to my son. The following pictures were clicked by yours truly from the window. Honestly, I have never seen such a  clear blue sky in Mumbai in the last decade.

Cleaner air for a few months may be a tiny silver lining to COVID-19’s dark clouds, but will do little in the long run to solve the problem of outdoor air pollution that kills more than four million people every year. For that we need to kick our habit of burning coal, oil and gas. For the time being let’s just enjoy the clean air.

20 thoughts on “Pollution Reduction During Lockdown. Myth or Reality? #A-ZChallenge2020

  1. soniadogra says:

    I have almost begun to believe that man cannot do a thing about getting nature back on track. When she has had enough she will reclaim her space and all our feeling important that we are the ones who can save nature are over and out once and for all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Good to hear that. Kolkata was anyway always better than Mumbai but to hear that it has got even better is good news. My trip to Kolkata this year got cancelled 😦 tai r nije chokhe dekha habe na

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ranjini says:

    Heyyyyyy! I’m kinda brushing on this topic in one of my upcoming post. The picture of Himalayas being visible is a gorgeous one. I haven’t really seen that one before. Is that the actual picture ?

    I totally agree when you say that these changes won’t last unless we do something lasting. It’s all gonna go back to how it was and we all know it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dashy says:

    There is a silver lining yes. In addition to the drop in pollution levels, the importance of hygiene is being emphasised as well. There are many lessons we can learn from this pandemic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Balaka says:

      I always feel Kolkata is still the lesser devil compared to Delhi and Mumbai. Whenever I go there I try to enjoy the air and weather. But yes, when we were kids it was way more better in Kolkata.

      Like

  4. Keith's Ramblings says:

    Pollution is less of a problem here in my little English seaside town, but I have experienced it whilst travelling through India and China. The quiet streets here are now tempting wild and farm animals to wander into town which looks very odd!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Anagha Yatin says:

    The other day, my husband sent me a message on whats app that the pollution levels have gone down so low that he can see my raised eyebrows from Mumbai, sitting in his living room at Lyon, as he went on binge-watching movies.
    Jokes apart, Corona has many good side effects. Pollution level coming down to a more breathable atmosphere tops the list of the blessings in disguise.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. souwesterly001 says:

    Those mountains in the pic haven’t been visible for 30 years? The canals of Venice in Italy are clear enough to see the bottom without the tourist boats and the reduced sewage load. The lack of traffic noise (& empty roads for cycling) have been the good bits of the lockdowns.

    RE outdoor air pollution, we need to move away from car-centrism. 60-70% of car trips are under 5 miles long. If we can get them shifted to cycling, that will be the way forward to enjoy these environmental benefits. The only way to do that is to make the main roads attractive & safe enough a) for parents to let their children travel independently & b) to get people to choose the bike over the car by providing bike lanes or cycle tracks alongside.

    Liked by 1 person

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