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Covid-19 shows our callous disregard for nature

While Dhaka was ranked the worst city in the air quality index (AQI) with a score of 179, or “unhealthy” on March 20, 2019, it was categorized as ‘moderate’ and ranked 21st worst in the index on June 11, 2020 with a score of 74
Mazharul Islam
Covid-19 shows our callous disregard for nature

While the breakout of Covid-19 has caused unprecedented health crisis, high level of anxieties over the concern of social, economic and political turmoil throughout the world, it is giving us an opportunity to magically see how much better the nature can be. The Covid-19 is giving us the extraordinary insight into just how much of a mess that we are making of our beautiful planet.

We were about to forget that the structure of the ecosystem is fully related to species diversity. If one species cannot perform its function properly, the whole ecological balance might be destroyed. According to the UN Human Rights Council, the full enjoyment of human rights thus depends on biodiversity, and the degradation and loss of biodiversity undermine the ability of human beings to enjoy their human rights. 

A United Nations report from 2018 found that roughly 13 million metric tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year. In 2007, German Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel cited estimates that up to 30% of all species will be extinct by 2050. Others have estimated that as many as 140,000 species are lost each year. Experts say the dramatic scale of last year's fires that took place in the Amazon is the result of a significant acceleration of deforestation for the lumber industry, for agriculture or for other human activities. 

“Our disrespect for wild animals and our disrespect for farmed animals has created this situation where disease can spill over to infect human beings. We have come to a turning point in our relationship with the natural world,” warns leading naturalist, chimpanzee expert and conservation campaigner Dr Jane Goodall. He also said, “If we don't do things differently, we're finished.” 

The outbreak of coronavirus has generously brought for us the long awaited improvement in the environmental pollution. Scientists record steady improvements in nature and climate — the air has cleaned up, albeit temporarily — as humans stay under lockdown due to coronavirus.

As the coronavirus pandemic forced much of the world into lockdown by early April, daily global carbon dioxide emissions fell by 17% compared to 2019 levels, according to a study. People in the northern Indian state of Punjab are reacting with awe at the sight of the Himalayan mountain range, which is now visible from more than 100 miles away due to the reduction in air pollution caused by the country's coronavirus lockdown.

While Dhaka was ranked the worst city in the air quality index (AQI) with a score of 179, or “unhealthy” on March 20, 2019, it was categorized as ‘moderate’ and ranked 21st worst in the index on June 11, 2020 with a score of 74. The return of ‘sagarlata’ also known as beach morning glory is observed on the beaches of Cox's Bazar.

People are also noticing animals in places and at times they don't usually. Thailand has found the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches bereft of tourists because of the coronavirus pandemic, environmentalists say.

It is a matter of disappointment that some of us are not taking lessons from it and doing again messy. Coronavirus waste has become a new form of pollution as used personal protective equipment floods our ocean. 

It is reported that divers have begun to notice more coronavirus waste — personal protective equipment— face masks, latex gloves and plastic bottles of hand sanitizer. In a video posted on Facebook, Laurent Lombard, who works on ocean cleanups, according to the Guardian, wrote that “soon there will be more masks than jellyfish in the waters of the Mediterranean.”

While people have opted to feed both stray and wild animals during the pandemic, many, on the other hand, are doing unimaginable inhumane behaviour with wildlife. Last month, a pregnant wild elephant had suffered a painful death as a result of consuming a fruit laced with explosives at Silent Valley Forest in the southern state of Kerala.

A group of unscrupulous people is carrying out cruel practice against innocent and harmless animals. In Madaripur, unidentified people reportedly poisoned nearly 15 monkeys to death as of yesterday evening. It was reported that a Gangetic dolphin, locally known as ‘shushuk’, was brutally killed in the Halda River which is a punishable offence under section 37 of the Wildlife (Preservation and Security) Act, 2012.

The pandemic has shown how the nature can be if we do not do cruelty with the nature and how human beings are responsible for causing damage or destruction of the biodiversity. The major concern is as the nature is getting refreshed, are we getting our minds refreshed to make the earth worth living when things will get normal? 
In order to maintaining discipline in the nature and its everlasting existence conservation of biodiversity is the most important thing. The target 12 of the Sustainable Development Goals mandates states to significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment by 2020. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 aims to drastically scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems.

Bangladesh has signed and ratified all the major international treaties and conventions in relation to biodiversity. According to Article 18A of the Constitution of Bangladesh Government shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to preserve and safeguard the natural resources, bio-diversity, wetlands, forests and wild life for the present and future citizens. In line with the spirit of the Constitution, the government has enacted sufficient laws including the Environment Conservation Act 1995, the Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act 2012 andthe Bangladesh Biodiversity Act 2017. The High Court Division also observed that any notified forest area, no matter whether it is declared reserved forest or not, cannot be allocated or leased for any purpose that damages the country’s forest.

It does not mean there is lack of legal framework around the world, it is the lack of monitoring and cooperation from citizens is responsible for such destruction of environment. It is high time to take good lessons and protect ourselves and the generations to come.

The writer is a corporate legal practitioner. Email: mazharkj528@gmail.com

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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