Air Pollution: Before and After Lockdown

In today’s world of modern society, various chemical compounds are present in the environment such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon oxides, particulate matter (PM), etc emitted from the vehicles, industries, agricultural practices and burning of fossil fuels. These gaseous forms of chemical compounds constitute the air pollution and damage the flora, fauna and the ecosystem.

The government agencies and private companies monitor the level of air pollutants around the world. Countries have their own air pollution data recording agencies that collect, record and maintain data every year. Some of the reports collected from different websites, meetings and associations are detailed below.

Roaring Chimneys

Air pollution is a global problem and every year millions of people die due to indoor and outdoor air pollution. According to the research conducted in the University of British Columbia and Health Effects Institute, published in Science Daily “More than 5.5 million people die prematurely every year due to household and outdoor air pollution. More than half of deaths occur in two of the world’s fastest growing economies, China and India.”

NASA also tracked air pollution trends in terms of nitrogen dioxide over last decade (2005 – 2015) in various regions and around the globe emitted from cars, power plants and industrial activities revealing that USA, Europe and Japan had improved air quality due to emission control regulations while China, India and Middle East had more air pollution due to their growing economy.

The 2020 pandemic due to COVID-19 resulted in the lock-down around the world that is showing some positive effects on the nature. NASA satellite has reported significant reduction in the levels of air pollution on the global level. The picture below shows the reduction in the levels of NO2 in the Northeast states of the USA, as reported by NASA.

Picture Curtsey: NASA
Picture Curtsey: NASA

In the pictures shown above, the decrease in the levels of NO2 can be seen clearly. You can compare both the pictures and notice the difference.

The Washington Post on April 11, 2020 reported reduction in the air pollution level in New Delhi, India (one of the world’s polluted cities). The report not only shows the view of clear and blue India Gate but also a clean and clear water of Yamuna river. As people stay at home, cars, bikes and buses are not honking on the streets.

PC: The Yamuna River in New Delhi on March 21, 2018, and on April 8, 2020. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

Absence of vehicles on the streets, airplanes in the sky and people locked inside the house, the Nature is showing its best. The clean and blue water of Yamuna river confirms that not only air has become less polluted, the rivers are also clearing up their dirty water. Man is the only social animal that pollutes the nature. He derives the most from the nature and gives pollutants in return.

Lower levels of air pollution has also been reported in countries like China, Iran, etc. The personal, emotional, financial and economic loss caused by the pandemic is immense. The sufferings cannot be justified by any means. This post is not meant to glorify the pandemic 2020 in anyway. It is only trying to give a different prospective to the whole topic. The losses are definitely big.

What is the take home message then? Is the Nature restoring itself through COVID-19? Are we going to see a fresh and new world after Pandemic 2020? Is the Mother Earth trying to show what we have done to her? Is this an alarm for self-correction? Are we going to learn something from this or ignore and repeat the mistakes again?

Thank you for reading the post. Stay at home stay safe.

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