Corona: Ally or Foe to Biodiversity?

Probal Talukder 

It has been now a century that world has faced millions of deaths. In year 1918, a pandemic broke out and made massive destruction, Spanish flu which is also known as influenza took away approximately 100 million of lives. Now the globe is also in a destructive period as the corona virus has broken out and lives are in an endangered situation.

It has taken away 3.31 million of lives and 159 million new cases before 12 May 2021. So, we have to remain in our houses and follow the safety precautions to fight against this demon. But it’s not the topic. Every object of this world has two faces, one is positive and the other one is negative.

Biodiversity refers to the biological diversion of environment and the term includes terrestrial atmosphere, marine atmosphere, aquatic atmosphere and some others. All the atmospheres above mentioned haves their own characteristics and all of them are holding a biodiversity of its own. But in together they maintain a balanced chain of biodiversity for a particular place or region. Chemical, physical and biological changes in these environs and the transformation of living and non-living organisms and micro-organisms according to these types of particular changes maintain a chain of acclimatization.

By this type of transition and adjustment process a geological and biological relation remains balanced. In short, the adjustments of living and micro-organisms according to the geological formation and abiotic form factors keep a balance which is known as biodiversity. Sometime this chain gets imbalanced or there are some messes in the relational chain of elements. Some factors are responsible in this regard. Mostly the catastrophic agents like floods, volcanos, hurricanes and sometime deadly diseases are mention worthy, But Sometime human activities surpass.

Soil, air and water are the main elements in our planet. For the better progress of life their quality should be preserved at a safety level. But after the industrial revolution started in 18th century the quality of these elements decreased and the deterioration is still now going on. The alarming rate of pollution puts a stamp mark over the existence of living organisms. But during this pandemic situation we have observed a temporary change over the elements and noticed the decline of pollutions. 

Water, well known as life to the living organisms has been contaminating from year to year. Industrial, household, farming insecticides and some other agents are contaminating water with wastages and chemical agents. But from the arrival of corona, it faces a fatal consequences form all industrial site was closed. People are remaining in their houses. Water vessels are not plying because there is no international or national transportation. This lockdown situation has created a good impact over the riverine and oceans. Grand canal of Italy turned clear. Ganges one of the most polluted river of India got revived during this coronal period. Vembanad lake, a Ramsar site passed by a examine as a part of case study, researchers found that the SPM (Social Performance Management) level is decreased to 15% and as the day passed in April, 2020 the level declined to 34% from previous. As a result, there are reappearances of many aquatic species. Oxygen level in water got balanced again. No waste in the water has encouraged the Revival of phytoplankton and zooplanktons which are a great source of food to fishes. As a result, the proper growth and reproduction process happened. Reappearance of aquatic animals and other organisms made a change in the aquatic biodiversity and rise of a new food chain took place.

Air is one of the most significant elements for existence. But what if the air is polluted? The answer is known to us. We are facing this extreme situation for a long time now. But a matter of temporary alleviation raised up when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. All the workplaces, industrial sites are closed to prevent the extreme situation of destruction, lockdown is implemented. In result we found the reduction of air pollutant particles and some toxic gases.

Nitrogen dioxide is an air pollutant which is mainly produced by fossil fuels, industrial activities and transportation. In Wuhan the reduction level of such activities and elements is 60% in Milan same as Wuhan, in New York the percentage is 45%. In Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh the concentration of pollutant particles like PM2.5, NO2, SO2 and CO in air have been reduced by 23%, 30%, 7% and 0.7% from April to May,2020. AQI (Air Quality Index) also has been reduced by up to 35%. Same types of cases have been observed all over the world.

The sky gets more cleared. Harmful agents which are threat to human health declined from their previous concentration level. due to Reduction of air microbiomes, we have observed some rare birds. As there are no appearances of humans the roaming site for birds have got wider. And the food chain of these species has been changed and the change is also noticeable in urban regions also. There must be some changes in reproduction process also. All of these make a new biodiversity system.

Another essential particle to our environment is soil. The landmass we are using regularly, creating pressure over it and the destruction is being caused by our own hands got a temporary relief. There were no vehicles, industrial wastages, agricultural

wastes, no constructions and many more. once in a while corona seems to be as a blessing to the lands. But is it really a blessing? We will advocate it later. During this lockdown situation there were less amount of waste materials. As a result, some micro-organisms reappear. Important bacteria for soils get revived. Because there was less amount of toxic chemicals, no farming agents needed to be used to kill them. Many small plants   grew once again. And all of them together make their own biological diversity.    

All the elements aforementioned are necessary to make a sustainable environment. But is the atmosphere in our favor? The answer is No. It is a matter of regret that when we want to find the origin of this answer, we found the deadly weapon called Green House Gas (GHG) which is responsible for climate change. And who is the destructive creator? the answer awfully indicates to the human beings.

It is a burning question in today’s world. We can’t be dictator to the nature. Because nature is controlling all the elements which are related to it. So, this time it pushes us back by the outbreak of deadly disease like covid-19. Now we are in an undeclared cage and the nature is in its own freedom. Carbon dioxide which is the main agent to GHG gets reduced from its previous years as all sources are closed for an uncertain period. Its emission from fossils and

industry is expected to drop 7% in 2020. Leading countries in this regard observed a remarkable drop from previous years. In the USA the percentage is 12%, in EU 11%, 9% in India and 17% in China. The peak of emission decreased this year occurred ON the first of April. Particularly in Europe and the USA the emission decreased by 17%. For this change there are diversities in the livelihood of animals. Greenery is revived.

We found many wild creatures in the urban areas. Chirping of birds are soothing our ears and the environ our eyes. New balanced change is noticeable.

Other reduction of pollutions like noise pollutions, ecological imbalance which has direct or indirect impact over biodiversity contributes to regain the beauty of nature. But we have already declared that every action has its opposite reaction. Is this pandemic really a blessing to environ? Let’s have a look over the opposite surface of the coin and advocate it from a different viewing angle.

In medical field we are trying to prevent this demon with our best equipment. But these are now becoming the matter of worry. The materials we are using are made of plastic and they can’t be recycled. We are dumping these kits not in a certain place. They are not properly disinfected. So, they are polluting soils and waters.

As they are not properly disinfected, they can be source for transmission by air or other mediums. The toxic actions are destroying many important micro-organisms of soil. This toxic or heavy metals are entering the food chain of humans. It causes many deadly diseases.  They are also impacting the terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity and their food chain. It can destroy the ecological sustainability.

At a first look we can seem that pandemic is creating benefits to wild creatures. But it is not right. For example, deer is an animal which is much comfortable to stay in a small zone without any kind of risk. But as the humans are remaining isolated in their houses the wandering site for this creature is widen and it is a great opportunity for the hunters.

The case is same for many other animals. In this period tourist spots are closed as a result, animals which are depended on the human foods getting hungry and aggressive. Many wild creatures are attacking the living regions of humans. Many street animals of urban sites are showing the same types of behavior. An imbalanced situation is noticeable.

The pandemic is not only infecting humans but also the wild creatures. Many cases are found all over the world. Three lions and four tigers in Bronx zoo of New York got infected with covid-19. Recently eight lions got this disease in Hyderabad. That means the wild creatures are also in danger.

Every creature of this world has its own contribution to environment. For a balanced ecosystem human contribution is needed. In this regard not only the physical health but also the mental health should be in a sound situation. But as the lockdown has started and is getting longer patience from humans gets disappeared. Many mantel issues are being faced by them. 4 out of 10 adults in US are feeling anxiety or depression. Other mental issues are also noticeable. The cases are increasing all over the world. Many suicidal cases are filed.

But recently the lockdown is getting eased and the movements of humans are increasing the risk of transmission in an alarming rate. Many people are not aware of precautionary steps or disagreeing to follow the rules. Mainly the developing countries are facing the problem. The outbreak can be massive. This also affects the ecology. Recent images of India shocked the world. All religious rituals in funeral can impact the atmosphere of this region. It can be also for the people of other religions. 

We can’t judge anything from one prospective. We are observing in this lockdown the decline of Green House Gases, less air pollution, less water pollution, less amount of soil pollution. And all of these are impacting the environment with a positive vibe. But a regular process which is continuing from previous years to years in the presence of human is being hampered and there are many changes in wild cycle. These changes shouldn’t be occurred. Pollution is decreased. But are previous wastage recycled or waste management laws are strictly applied?

In the same time medical wastages are increasing and they are adding an extra load to the previous scenario. These are threats to the soil. Infected equipment which is dumped into local areas can be a reason for another transmission wave. In Dhaka many industrial sites are closed but the pharmaceutical industries are opened and they are dumping wastages to Buriganga. There is an increase in use of chemicals in medical field during this pandemic.

Chemicals from these factories are contaminating water. So, the aquatic biodiversity is destroying. All of these pharmaceutical toxics are entering the food chain of animals as well as humans. Attitude of wild animals are changed and they can be threat to human beings. Pets like dogs and cats are also being infected and, there should be doctors for them. But when we look at the developing countries, there are many street animals and they can appear as a threat. So, there is a reduction but an imbalance is running in parallel. Temporary relief can’t be the solution. We have to think about the long run or else the blessing is going to be turned to curse.     

This is all about the negative and positive impacts of covid to biodiversity and to make awareness among people. Ecology is a single word but the meaning is massive. It includes many things.

For a sustainable life ecological balance should be maintained. In recent times we are facing a critical situation and it can be recovered. But the ecology will be with us, so its balance should be maintained. We have to fight against this demon with courage and all precautionary steps have to be followed. Social awareness is a great weapon in this regard. At last, stay home, stay safe and sound.   

In recent times we are facing a critical situation and it can be recovered. For a sustainable life ecological balance should be maintained. “

Author is a Student of Environmental Science and Engineering Department at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, Mymensingh—2224, Bangladesh

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