Going Green

The Earth Healing: A Side Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic

IS THE EARTH HEALING DURING THIS PANDEMIC? While the world battles COVID-19, several images and stories have surfaced online showing a positive side effect. With the downturn of human activities, Mother Nature appears to be benefiting from these unusual times.

For the past months, aside from the updates on infections and recoveries, the world has been on careful surveillance of the environment’s improvements. Below are just a few of our favorite stories.

Blue Skies, Clear Waters

Rivers in the most polluted areas are getting clearer. Skies are becoming a delightful shade of blue, which we haven’t seen in years. Are these not signs of the Earth healing?

Venice’s Grand Canal has shown great progress ever since the start of the country’s lockdown. Instead of the usual gondolas populating the body of water, fish and seabirds have found their way back into the canals.

In the Philippines, in late March, photos of the Sierra Madre mountain range peeking through a Metro Manila skyline circulated on social media. For a highly populated and polluted urban metropolis like this, it appeared to be a miracle.

LOOK: Nangibabaw ang kagandahan ng Sierra Madre na tanaw sa #MetroManila dahil bumaba na ang naitalang air pollution o…

Posted by Philippine Weather System/Pacific Storm Update on Monday, March 23, 2020

From then on, everyone’s been on the lookout for whatever Mother Nature might reveal next.

Lesser Pollution Calls for a Celebration

With less people outside and few cars on the streets, the world was given an pleasant surprise in terms of air quality.

According to a study released by experts at the University of the Philippines (UP), air quality in Metro Manila and other provinces in the country have been drastically improving.

While a vacant highway is visually bizarre, experts say that this is one of the major factors why our environment is getting its long-awaited retreat. 

A recent report by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), ranks the Philippines second in Southeast Asia in terms of significant air quality improvements. The report was released on May 8, 2020.

These reports identified the matters of lockdown implementations and their effects on air pollution, especially in densely populated areas. It is in this pursuit of data that we can really confirm the Earth healing.

While all of this calls for a celebration, a virtual one, of course, transitions from an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to moderate enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) or general community quarantine (GCQ) now challenge whatever improvements we experienced.

READ: Luntiang Pilipinas Urges Filipinos to Stop Using Plastics

Beyond the Lockdown

Mass transportation is still suspended, yet an influx of private vehicles has already created unnecessary traffic and panic. Could it be about the spread of the virus, or the threat to the clean air we were enjoying?

For the past months, the Earth healing was no longer just a greenie buzzword. We gave our environment a chance to recharge itself. We’ve been amazed at how in a short period of time, huge changes were already apparent. But the better question is, how can we keep it up?

The current challenge to mass transport has forced many to invest in bicycles to take them to and from work. Aside from bikes allowing us to travel while following social or physical distancing, they’re super good for the environment. They emit zero pollutants, and give a great workout, too!

Truth is, let’s expect our air pollution to go back to moderate and unhealthy levels if we put these observations to waste. If our lockdowns prompted the Earth healing process to begin, then their lifting could easily halt that.

If we’ve basked in the picturesque beauty of a Metro Manila skyline and choose to go back to normal without doing anything, our dreams of having a greener, better Philippines won’t happen anytime soon.

What can we do? We can start with the little things. Like avoiding unnecessary idling of vehicles, burning solid wastes, and maybe kicking the smoking habit! Sharing in these eco-friendly practices will yield plenty of individual and collective benefits.

The pandemic has taught us many lessons, one of which is that our ‘new normal’ includes being there for Mother Nature more. Because if we won’t do it, who else will?

Photo by Jamie Sanchez

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