On a positive note, since the pandemic has changed the way we are living, the environment is flourishing, the water is clearer and the skyies are bluer. The shutdown of factories in the Chinese city of Hubei has increased the percentage of good quality air days by more than 20 per cent compared to the same time last year. It’s not only Hubei, in major Chinese cities between January and February, the visible cloud of toxic gas hanging over industrial power houses has almost disappeared. Hong Kong's air quality has improved with the shut down of the city. Transport makes up 23 per cent of the world's global carbon emissions but due to travel being cancelled, flights are now at a minimum and car traffic in some parts of the world is scarce. This has reduced carbon emissions significantly.
The effect of the world going into lock down has been extraordinary for the environment. In India, along the coast of Odisha, over 475,000 endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles have come to shore to lay their eggs for the first time in seven years. Although Italy may be experiencing a huge human toll, canals are full of fish and sea animals along with crystal clear water, the likes of which hasn't been seen in living memory. In Wuhan, China the skies are clearer than ever and some people are seeing the stars for the first time. Animals have been seen in places they are never normally seen and others spotted roaming around in deserted towns. It isn't all bad news with COVID-19.
While it’s important to not play down the seriousness of the crisis on human life and the extraordinary impact this pandemic will have on societies and economies around the world, there is a silver lining on these dark clouds. Let’s make it a challenge to maintain as many of the positive impacts for the planet that we can, once the world goes back to “normal”.