Wednesday, June 3, 2020

#EarthdaySpecial: Is Nature healing in the COVID-19 lockdown?

Every one of us daily gets WhatsApp forwards of videos of peacocks roaming in the cities. People are flooding Twitter with videos of pigeons, sparrows, squirrels and peacocks roaming freely in the urban areas of India. We are astonished by the sudden loud chirping of birds in highly populated areas like Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh. In the market area of Bari Brahmana of Jammu, many peacocks were roaming around in the absence of humans.
So, is nature reclaiming its space?

Many people are posting on digital media that ‘Nature is healing”. In this lockdown period, pollution has decreased but to say nature is healing is like living in an illusion. The human race is polluting earth blindly since the concept of modernisation and industrialisation came into practice. From more than 200 years, pollution and deforestation have only increased in this world. Continuous encroachment of rivers and forests added more sufferings to the blue planet. Amazon fires and forest fires in Australia killed billions of animals. Huge animal and plant diversity were in flames and we could do nothing but watch it burn.

Many forest and wildlife experts shared on social media that nature is not healing but it has just gotten some moments to sigh because humans are locked. Indian Forest Services, Officer Parveen Kaswan who is also a member of International Union for the conservation of nature (IUCN) posted on his social media and blog that “Biggest virus on earth is still human behaviour”. These words were in response to a picture portraying people throwing used masks and gloves in open. Parveen Kaswan informed people through his blog that all viruses like Ebola, Swine flu, and SARS-nCov popularly known as Corona are infecting humans because of deforestation and wild animal trafficking. He added that China is the biggest trafficker of Pangolin mammal which is the carrier of CO-VID 19. Ebola outbreak was also a result of deforestation as per experts. Parveen Kaswan firmly writes against the use of wild animal’s bones or parts in traditional medicines.
Dead trees, marsupials, grasslands, wetlands, forests, the depleted ozone layer, polluted rivers cannot be healed so easily. The virus outbreaks are a result of human interference with wildlife. As human fears virus, wildlife fears human too. To think nature would heal in these 40-50 days or to think it would heal in extended lockdown is imprudent. At the same time when we get to hear news like peacocks seen in some locality of Mumbai or flocks of birds resting in abundant number near an industrial area or turtles resting in some beach in Odisha, we should remind ourselves that those areas belong to birds and animals first. We should enjoy if wildlife and forests thrive but some strong commitments and rules should also be made to live in harmony with nature.
Present virus pandemic is giving us some important lessons. This time is a signal from nature that enough damage has been done to the earth. Nature is revolting against further damage and we have to commit to saving nature to be able to save ourselves or other living beings in future would talk of us like we talk about the dinosaurs. While the younger generation is already reading on the internet that “humans are the real virus to earth” it is in our hands to change this statement through some real action.
This decade was the hottest decade of earth. The seas are more acidic, ozone is depleting and maybe curfew and masks are our future. People are sharing on social media that they feel like they are living a Sci-fi (Science fiction) life. People are locked down and masks are made mandatory. Nature is warning us in its ways to stop our greed, move back to our roots. Many Greta Thunbergs are sitting at home with no school because of their ancestor’s actions. Humans made it difficult for the next generations to survive in a natural environment. Today we are isolating ourselves to protect ourselves and our loved ones. This is all result of our unkindness towards nature. If we didn’t learn anything from this lockdown, then the future is carbon and masks followed by consistent curfews. Touching each other would be once in a lifetime experience.
To save the human race, some revolutionary actions to save rivers and forests of the earth are needed. The lungs of the earth already caught fire and billions of plants and animals died. Sci-fi is good when we watch it but do we really want to live in one?
Think and act.

The article is contributed by Renu Kotwal. She can be reached at [email protected]

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