As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, many of us have been forced to change our lifestyles and daily habits. Some businesses have shut down. Many schools have closed temporarily. Companies around the world have their employees working from home. Because of the slow down happening worldwide, fewer people are commuting, which is helping Earth heal in unexpected ways.
We’re all facing uncertainty about the future. But perhaps this virus can teach us an important lesson about how we interact with Mother Earth. During the outbreak, many of us have been forced to get back to simpler ways of living. And this gives us the time to focus on our inner healing. Maybe this is just nature’s way of telling us to slow down and think about what’s essential in life.
Here are ten ways Earth is healing herself while we’re on lockdown worldwide:
1 – Air pollution is decreasing globally as fewer people travel.
According to CNN, images taken over the first few weeks of March in the US show less nitrogen dioxide on Earth than at this time last year. In high traffic areas such as Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Seattle, you can see a dramatic difference between March 2019 and 2020. California is one of many states that have stay at home orders in place, which means activities are limited to work, grocery shopping, and picking up medicines.
The State Department is discouraging traveling abroad, and the US and Canada have closed their borders to unnecessary travel.
Air pollution is also dropping in Italy and China during the virus outbreak. As of now, China is mostly back to normal after recording no new cases of the coronavirus. However, satellite images showed drastic improvements in air quality during the lockdown. When the virus first appeared in China in December 2019, China took it seriously to lower the spread. They closed down factories and placed people in quarantine. Those measures meant much fewer people were out on the roads.
The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) has observed through satellite images and computer models, a dramatic drop in surface particulate matter in China from December 2019 to early March 2020. They found a 20-30% decrease over much of China during this period.
2 – Venice canals are clear enough to see fish.
With fewer people going out due to the outbreak in Italy, the Venice canals have had a chance to heal. Residents have reported such clear waters in the canals that you can see fish! Before, the constant boat traffic stirred up sediment, making the waters murky and dirty looking.
3 – Families are spending more time together and figuring out how to help each other.
During a crisis, humans naturally come together to help one another. We are genetically wired to support each other during times of need, as this helped us survive for thousands of years. With businesses shutting down and most of us stuck inside our homes, we are forced to spend more time together. While it’s still a stressful time for many, especially with all the bad news we hear from all over the world, we can still rejoice in the company of family and friends.
Also, communities have started banding together to help those in need. Reports of people grocery shopping for the elderly, picking up medicine for those who are sick, and donating masks and gloves to hospitals are all over the Internet. Humanity may have its downfalls, but we sure do know how to keep our heads high and unite when the going gets tough.
4 – People are comforting each other in unique ways.
From people singing and playing instruments on their balconies in Italy to people dancing in the streets in San Francisco (6 feet apart, of course), everyone is dealing with the crisis in their unique way. After a while, even the most introverted among us get bored and restless inside our homes while we wait for this to subside, so it only makes sense to have a little fun.
Many musicians have resorted to doing live performances on their social media platforms as a way to reach out to fans and uplift people’s spirits during these times. Celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey have been making videos with positive messages to help those who feel scared or uncertain during these times.
Even if we can’t physically be with those we love, we can always FaceTime or call them to show our support. Remember that we’re all in this together.
5 – Dolphins were spotted off the Mumbai coast during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Due to the decrease in fishing activities, residents spotted dolphins playing and swimming around in the Arabian Sea. Videos are going viral because these dolphin sightings are rare in this part of the world. During the coronavirus outbreak, nature finally gets a chance to heal as humans have decreased activities that harm the Earth. What a beautiful sight!
6 – Borders are forgotten as countries work together to stem the outbreak.
Last week when Italy’s outbreak was at its peak, China sent medical experts and supplies to help combat the virus. Doctors were able to bring their expertise as they already had experience in dealing with the virus firsthand. They signed contracts for 10,000 pulmonary ventilators, 2 million face masks, and 20,000 protective suits. The US also sent 17.8 tons of medical supplies to China, such as masks, gowns, and protective suits.
7 – Animals are spotted in major cities as traffic decreases, and more people stay at home.
Some residents said that in Wuhan, they could hear birds chirping for the first time since traffic had died down. Normally, birds stayed away from the crowded areas, but residents got to enjoy their songs and watch them fly around since the city had become less hectic.
A Bloomberg reporter captured photos of deer wandering the emptied streets in Nara, Japan; deer have also been spotted near an airport in Britain. Dozens of monkeys assembled in front of a shop near Prang Sam Yod temple after the virus spread impacted tourism in Lopburi, Thailand. Normally, this area is so overrun with people visiting. But now the monkeys can explore and search for food.
This event shows how humans and animals can coexist as long as we respect their habitats. Unfortunately, we have been encroaching on animals’ territory for quite some time now, but perhaps we can learn a thing or two about protecting animals during the outbreak.
8 – Dogs are doing their duty to help others remain calm during the outbreak.
In Austin, one therapy dog is still helping others despite the social distancing rules. Great Dane Tonka and her owner Courtney routinely visit nursing homes. But with the virus, they can’t go inside as they normally do. However, they’ve gotten creative. They write sweet notes and signs to hold up to the residents’ windows to bring a smile to their faces. In turn, the residents write things back like, “Tonka, I miss you!”
Also, people are still posting cute videos and stories of their dogs on social media, so we always have something to smile about even while stuck at home.
Animals are truly amazing and can help our mental and emotional health so much. Make sure to snuggle up with your dog a little extra. They know when you’re stressed and are probably giving you some much-needed love, too.
9 – People see blue skies in normally polluted cities throughout the world.
In China’s Hubei province, the average number of good quality air days increased by 21.5% in February compared to the same time last year. From February 3 to March 1, CO2 emissions decreased by at least 25% because of lockdowns throughout China, according to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).
China adds a whopping 30% yearly to the world’s CO2 emissions, making it number one polluting the air. So, a 25% decrease makes a difference in terms of air quality on Earth. CREA estimates it to be about 200 million tons — more than half the entire annual emissions output of the UK.
More blue skies were also noted in the Bay Area and Italy as pollution dropped while lockdowns took place throughout these cities.
10 – We realize what’s truly important here on Earth.
Perhaps the greatest healing taking place is within our hearts. We realize that it isn’t gaining “likes” on social media. It’s not money in our bank accounts or the possessions we have that make life worth living. It’s the impact we make on others’ lives and the memories we share. It’s not about racing through life trying to accumulate things we can’t take with us, but about living mindfully and intentionally, in harmony with our planet.
While the virus is not something to be taken lightly, we can learn some lessons during this trying time. We can look after our neighbors who might need our help or call friends we haven’t talked to in a while to give support. We can examine our relationship with Earth and ask how we might become better stewards of our planet moving forward.