On December 31st 2019, China informed the WHO that there was an unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan infecting around 40 people. Several of the infected worked or had been to, the Huanan Seafood Market. The market was subsequently shut down on January 1 2020.
On January 11th, China announced that a man of 61, who had been to the market, had died from the virus, after treatment hadn’t eased his symptoms.
This was the beginning of a story that is ongoing and is only just showing signs of easing off.
Now with over 3.45 MILLION confirmed cases worldwide and deaths exceeding 244,000, this virus is obviously a tragic episode in human history. But alongside the human tragedy, for the planet as a whole, there have been a number of positive effects.
A huge drop in pollution due to reduced social and industrial activity has led to much cleaner air as people in Northern India for example, are seeing the Himalayas from their villages for the first time. All major cities, including Paris, Madrid, Milan and London have seen a big reduction in nitrogen dioxide, carbon emissions and other harmful airborne particulates.
Waterways have benefitted , with Venice reporting clearer water now that the boat traffic has dropped off dramatically.
Bees, birds and wildlife, are all enjoying the respite from human activity with pollution dropping drastically, less waste being generated, grass verges remaining uncut and a huge reduction in cars rumbling past. You could almost compare it to the relief we will feel when this pandemic is finally over.
In an era when climate change and pollution are issues that are often talked about, the current situation shows that we do not have complete control over our own destiny and how fragile the balance is.
Maybe this is the first instance of the human race being directly impacted by nature’s reaction to our behaviour and a sign that we need to change the way we do things and correct the imbalance that we have created.
So when this is all finally over, will we see that we can’t carry on as we were before, or will we just slip back into old habits and carry destroying the environment for ourselves and all the other living things we share this planet with?
This is a unique chance to start afresh. Let’s not waste it.