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2020: The Year of the Earth

2020, what a year right? I remember how we all ushered in the new year with the usual optimism, hopes, resolutions and fanfare. Then COVID-19 happened. Everyone, everything, everywhere was impacted. For the first time in decades the entire world came to standstill. Our hearts, prayers and thoughts go out to everyone especially those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic.

Although 2020 has not gone the way that many planned or dreamed, we can’t help but notice how it has shaped and changed us in different ways. Some people who had not taken vacations in years finally found time to rest as a result of the lockdown. During the lockdown, a friend of mine told me that he was able to get some much needed that had been elusive for years. Some others were able to spend precious time with hitherto busy loved ones.

Ssshhh…healing in progress. Photo credit: John Cameron

The earth has also not been left out. People across the globe have noticed how the earth has been responding to it all. Here are some ways that we have noticed:

Wildlifes day-out: The lockdown period gave nature the space and tranquility to re-emerge. Some parts of the world saw rare fauna that they have not spotted in ages. A town in Poland had deer in its streets. A playground in California, US hosted some wild turkeys. Even the world′s fashion capital Paris was not left out as wild pigs visited its streets. Olive Ridley turtles also came ashore on a beach in Odisha. Across the world the experience was the same, wildlife got the time and chance to step out.

Improved air quality: In many parts of the world, air quality improved significantly. This is a result of the shutdown of many factories and commercial establishments. Vehicular movements in many places also declined significantly. China which has long battled with air pollution showed considerable reduction on its pollution levels. The world′s most polluted capital Delhi also witnessed a drastic drop in its pollution levels. This reduction in the levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide have given the earth some much needed breathing space.

“The reduction in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved 20 times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country,” says Professor Marshall Bruke of Stanford University.

Cleaner and clearer water: Water quality improved in various water bodies across the earth amidst the lockdown. The river Ganga for instance recorded improved water quality. The Yamuna also saw a reduction in the fecal coliform levels during the lockdown and was finally free of foam. In many tourist havens like Venice, motorboats lay still as waterways became clean and clear once again. The world′s oceans were not left out as they could also take a break from single-use plastics.

Is this what peace sounds like? Many of us had never experienced that level of consistent and total peace and calm until the lockdown happened. The noise from vehicles, machines and factories finally gave way to birds singing, leaves rustling and winds whistling. At some point it was absolute silence – golden silence. Scientists also recorded a drop in seismic noise caused by human activities which are also a major contributor to stress in humans.

Reconnecting with mother nature: For many of us, the lockdown was the perfect opportunity to start that long-delayed garden project or tend the existing one. Many people have now taken up some form of gardening or other small-scale agricultural activities. People are nurturing plants and growing vegetables in their homes, contributing to better nutrition and a healthier planet.

According to a study by Rutgers University, flowers and flowerbeds can help cure depression. It is also studied that inhaling and touching the microbes in the garden soil relieves stress, much like the smell of rain.

Zurich Main Station catching some sleep. Photo credit: Patrick Robert Doyle

It is for these and other reasons that we at MyHeartBeatsGreen have dedicated this year 2020 as the year of the Earth. We continue to work and hope that Coronavirus clears up as soon as possible. We strongly hope that the world will take full advantage of this real opportunity to enact systemic changes in the interest of our planet. Lets make the move towards real, systemic and sustainable changes to the systems of healthcare, energy, transportation and more. Lets sustain a cleaner, healthier and greener earth!

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2 thoughts on “2020: The Year of the Earth

  1. This is an excellent write-up. Thanks for helping us to see beyond the fear and helplessness that we mostly felt during the lockdown. The positive effects on the earth and the benefits we derive from it is something worthy of note.
    As the world is gradually overcoming the pandemic, I’ve personally observed a general improvement in personal hygiene Knowledge Attitudes and Practices, hoping we don’t drop it after Covid 19 is gone.

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