• Saturday, Sep 26, 2020
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OP-ED: An unlikely saviour

  • Published at 08:05 pm July 19th, 2020
It is imperative that we preserve our natural landscapes
It is imperative that we preserve our natural landscapes BIGSTOCK

Covid-19 has provided the environment the opportunity to heal itself

Covid-19 is causing an unimaginable magnitude of suffering to the world. The virus has taken the lives of over 600,000 people and infected millions more. However, it has had a positive effect on the environment. 

Coronavirus has exposed the inherent fragility of our globally interconnected economic system and its devastating impact on nature as well as the ecosystem. Many are now raising the question of whether nature is taking revenge.

In the name of development and urbanization, man embodies a devastating reality. He has destroyed forests and overused the earth’s natural resources, which has caused havoc on the environment. 

Industrialization has accelerated the process of the greenhouse effect, increasing the emission of greenhouse gases manifold. The quarantine policies adopted in most countries have led to a quantum leap in online shopping for home delivery. 

Ultimately, organic waste generated by households has increased manifold. Moreover, discarded protective equipment like hand gloves, masks, and PPE have become a great hazard to the environment. Every day, thousands of tons of plastic waste find their way into the sea and are causing water pollution and creating great danger for marine life.

Undoubtedly, Covid-19 has had catastrophic consequences on mankind which is beyond apprehension. However, it has kindled new hope for mankind for a cleaner and greener earth. 

To prevent the pandemic, the Chinese government imposed lockdowns in Wuhan and Beijing and, as a result, development activities and industries came to a standstill, and there was no movement of traffic on the street. The result was stunning for the environment. The air quality improved by nearly 30% and people of Beijing could see the blue sky after many months.

European countries imposed a tighter nationwide lockdown from the start of March to prevent the rapid spread of Covid-19. Hence, people were confined to their homes and most economic activities came to a standstill except for emergency services like food, medicine, and cleaning services. Industrial activities ceased, streets became empty, and air travel worldwide stopped.

Consequently, there was a resurrection in nature; wild animals claimed many of their lands. Emission of greenhouse gases reduced by nearly 40%, satellite pictures showed that the air quality of major cities of Europe increased significantly.

In our country after the first identification of Covid-19 in March, the government declared nationwide general closure of all government and non-government offices. Public transport, railway services, air transport, and launch services were banned. 

Industrial production ceased and traffic movement became limited in Dhaka. Besides, construction work of mega projects nearly came to a standstill. Thus, air quality improved in the world`s most polluted city. 

Cox’s Bazar has also seen a new outlook. Dolphins were seen swimming in the water after a long time. Whales were also seen swimming in the sea near Cox`s Bazar. 

Deserted by people, the beach has seen the growth of unknown flowers. Environmentalists of our country have gone to the court to ensure that the government of our country takes necessary steps to protect the endangered dolphin species and restrict human activities close to the beach to preserve the uniqueness of Cox’s Bazar.

Covid-19 has shown that there is still hope to save the environment, maintain the balance of ecology, and make the world habitable for our future generation if we act wisely and vigilantly.

For the continuation of human existence on earth, it is imperative to check the reckless pollution of the environment and maintain harmony with nature. We must enforce existing laws strictly so that we can safeguard the environment from the clutches of industrialization and urbanization. If necessary, new strict laws should be passed in the assembly to save the environment.

Failing to restore the balance of nature and prevent contamination of the environment, we may face the wrath of nature in the form of a new pandemic which may prove more devastating than Covid-19 and terminate the entire human race.

Leading economic powerhouses like Germany and France have promised over $17 billion to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases within 2025. Many countries have decided to stop using coal in power plants and are encouraging the use of renewable energy like wind power and solar energy. 

It is evident that the willingness of world leaders and the rigorous imposition of laws can minimize the greenhouse effect and keep the environment clean.

But the question remains: Will world leaders ever be able to sacrifice their interest for the greater welfare of the human race? Can they stand on the same platform and unanimously declare that sustainable development and a clean environment must go together at any cost?

Mimtabasum Dipa is a student of law.

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