While the pandemic is frightening for us, the silver lining is that the Earth is finally bouncing back from the damage humans have done to it.
For the past few weeks, people have been urged to exercise self-isolation and physical distancing. While there is no consensus on how people feel being stuck indoors, one thing has become clear—Mother Nature is finally getting a breather. As the planet heals from the damage caused by humankind, dolphins and fish are returning the waters close to Venice and the turtle population has seen a boom. Wild animals have dared to step out from the wild and go for an evening stroll on the empty streets of once-busy localities. And now, as a result of the air clearing up, people in the northern Indian state of Punjab are in awe as they can see the snow-capped peaks of the magnificent Himalayas from their homes.
What makes this moment even more special is the fact that they can view the mountain range that is more than 100 miles away from their home. Those in the city of Jalandhar and other surrounding areas have flooded social media with stunning views of the grand mountains that they could capture from their rooftops. Some of them have even said they haven't seen the peaks of the Himalayas in decades, according to CNN.
"For the first time in almost 30 years (I) could clearly see the Himalayas due to India's lockdown clearing air pollution. Just amazing," Manjit Kang wrote.
This was the view from our rooftop at home in Punjab India. For the first time in almost 30 years could clearly see the Himalayas due to India’s lockdown clearing air pollution. Just amazing! 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/WmWZYQ68lC— Manjit K Kang #StayHomeSaveLives (@KangManjit) April 3, 2020
This is possibly due to the nationwide lockdown that the citizens have been asked to follow by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. With a temporary shutdown of factories, nearly no vehicles on the road, airlines and interstate transport put on hold, and most businesses closed for operations, the air quality has improved drastically. The capital of the country, Delhi, saw up to 44% reduction in air pollution on the first day of the lockdown, as reported by India's Central Pollution Control Board. This improvement in air quality is monumental, considering how heavy and smoggy the air has turned in the last decade. The report also stated that in 85 cities across the nation, there was a significant drop in air pollution.
With regards to the city of Jalandhar, the air quality has been measured as "good" on the country's national index for 16 of the 17 days since the nationwide lockdown was enforced. This was not the case last year during the same 17-day period, when not a single day was deemed to have "good" air quality. Considering that India is home to 21 of the 30 worst polluted urban areas in the world, according to IQAir AirVisual's 2019 World Air Quality Report, this is truly a breath of fresh air for citizens across the country.
What nature really is and how we screwed it up.— Soul of a Warrior (@Deewalia) April 3, 2020
This is Dhauladhar mountain range of Himachal, visible after 30 yrs, from Jalandhar (Punjab) after pollution drops to its lowest level. This is approx. 200 km away straight. #Lockdown21 #MotherNature #Global healing. pic.twitter.com/cvZqbWd6MR
People are also seeing animals, many of whom had been deemed endangered, take over the streets while humans stay at home. It is us who've claimed the land and seas that belong equally to all creatures and made it unfit for them to live in peace. Now with us indoors, they are merely exploring what was once their territory.
This is a Small Indian Civet. Things which I can confirm; Video is real (not animation). Was never posted before Wednesday on Internet. Sources say it is from Kozhikode. It looks sick. Quite possible was in captive & released. It is found there normally also. That's it. https://t.co/5ginqdxxJx— Parveen Kaswan (@ParveenKaswan) March 27, 2020
These changes give us hope that as Mother Nature recovers from the damage done by human beings, we can see the planet as it truly is—gorgeous, mysterious, pristine, magical, and self-sustaining. The biggest lesson for humankind is to see how much damage we have caused as a race and knowing every small step can lead to a more sustainable and healthy future.