“Nature is sending us a message with the corona virus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis”- Inger Anderson
Prior to the lockdown, the environment and entire ecosystem was strained beyond its elastic limit by the activities of man. Indiscriminate logging, poaching and hunting of endangered species, combustion of carbon based fuels, unsustainable waste management and the emission of anti-Oxone gases left the environment in a helpless state. Although the environment communicated her ordeals to man, only the intervention of the unannounced visitor was able to force man to retreat into his niche. The visible green lure of lawns, flourishing biodiversity like the colourful petals of the morning glory flower under the watchful smile of a healthy Oxone are testaments to the fact the lockdown helped the environment to bounce back. As nature tried to reset, man who had tormented her for decades became the tormented under the bitter gourd of Covid-19s vinegar.
Definition of terms
Covid-19 is an illness caused by a novel coronavirus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which was first identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan city, China.
Environment is the natural world, as a whole or in a particular geographical area, especially as affected by human activity.
HOW THE LOCKDOWN HELPED THE ENVIRONMENT TO BOUNCE BACK
Over the years, increase in human population has continued to over stretch available resources . Pollution of water bodies like oceans, seas, like, rivers and streams reduces dissolved oxygen , limits Ph. and biological oxygen demand , and leads to the death of aquatic organisms. The global imposition of lockdown helped in improving the health of the aquatic habitat. A study showed that there was a 500% decrease in sewage and industrial effects in water bodies1. The study went further to report that dissolved oxygen, biological oxygen demand, and the Ph. of rivers improved by about 79%, 30% and 7.9 respectively. This has greatly helped water bodies and its organisms to replenish in the absence of mans interference.
Human noise over decades have altered the life style and habit of many a specie around the world. While some species adapt to these changes easily, many struggle in their quest for survival. With many animals unable to practice phenotypic plasticity, the lockdown was a blessing in disguise.
In 2019, the world was very noisy due to the activities of man and machines. This contributed to the psychological disorder experienced by animals like rabbits that thrive in less noisy environments. Reports from a study showed that during the lockdown, noise pollution levels reduced up to 35%-68% all over the world. This helped nature to bounce back. Since sound is important to keep animals in contact with others, wan about danger, defend territory and for breeding purpose, the lockdown aided these activities as man was blocked from the scene.
Desertification, which is the process of land degradation in arid, semi-aid and sub-humid areas due to climatic variations and human activities, caused great set back to many regions of the world. Persistent degradation of dry land by human activities, unsustainable farming that depletes soil nutrients, mining, over grazing and clear cutting of the top soil was reduced as a result of the lockdown. These reductions has helped the course of reforestation and tree regeneration, enrichment of the soil and caused an increase in biodiversity.
A halt in man’s mobility made places like public parks, harbours, ports and sea shores empty during the lockdown. This made it possible for animals and wildlife to go about their normal activities freely. While this helped animals to bask freely, sighting of animals in public spaces was a usual occurrence during the lockdown. Deer’s invaded private gardens, wild boars on croisette in Cannes, dolphins in Italian ports, seals on the beaches of Dunkirk, comeback of vegetation in public spaces as a result of reduced mowing and foot impact are examples of how nature tried to recover in spaces originally meant for man.
The grounding of aircrafts helped in reducing Oxone layer depletion globally. With a reduction in the emission of CFCs, the atmosphere was less polluted and this helped to hasten the purification of the atmosphere. The lockdown also caused a reduction of smoke, smog and dust as industries, with the limited use automobiles and gas flaring. Many in a bid to be fit amidst reduced sporting activities took to the use of bicycle for the purpose of transportation.
In the wild, species are normally affected negatively by the activities of ecologists, researchers, tourists and educators. The lockdown halted these activities and forced many to adopt the innovative use of technology to monitor and carry out studies in the wild. The reduction of man’s interference with the course of life in the wild encouraged many organisms to freely express themselves during this period.
The crisis highlighted ways in which the conservation community could be more effective in publicising and discharging their duties by engaging the public through the internet.
A springboard for the use of technology (GPS/satellites) to monitor biodiversity and enforce conservation without the interference of man has been laid for wider adoption.
It is paramount for ecologists and Governments around the world to sponsor biodiversity reserves and seed banks in urban and rural areas to encourage participation by all and for unification in the event of a future chaos.
The United Nations should make efforts to create holidays and temporary lockdowns in places where natural resources have been stretched beyond elastic limit.
With the easing of the lockdown, many will resort to their former endeavours prior to the pandemic, but encouraging governments around the world to train and employ more environmental guards that will make sure the eco-system is protected from unsustainable activities by man should not be neglected.
Boredom caused because of the lockdown was cushioned among ecologists who were equipped with biodiversity apps and games. Making these soft-wares available to youths can drive change, educate the ignorant public and hasten the actualization of SDGs.
Finally, the pandemic ignited the fire of trekking among many people around the world. Taxes should be imposed on automobiles that pollute the environment to encourage the use of environmentally friendly means of transportation. Upholding this virtue after the pandemic will help reduce pollution through the unnecessary use of automobiles.