Voice of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Monday, September 26, 2022

COVID-19 and our environment

Ozone is the protective blueish thin stratosphere layer which absorbs and purifies ultraviolet rays, coming from the Sun directly towards earth in its tiny constituent parts which helps to minimize climate change, global warming, skin cancer and other health issues.

According to World Air Quality index 2019 AVG, Pakistan is ranked the 2nd most polluted country in the world with unhealthy level of air and has 9 cities including Peshawar in the top 250 polluted cities in the world. Pakistan is also ranked among the top countries affected by global warming and has already started to experience its effects through floods, erratic pattern of weather and droughts. This has further increased the significance of Ozone layer for countries like Pakistan.

Currently COVID-19 has completely paralyzed the entire world, affected our lifestyle and has restricted our freedom of movement. Pakistan has also implemented various steps including partial lockdown and other precautionary steps to stop coronavirus spread. These preventive measures are taking toll on our economy and badly affecting our daily life. However, something unprecedent is happening, the environment has started healing. It seems as if the world has gone in a reboot mode to repair itself. With a drastic decrease in pollution, cities like Peshawar air quality has drastically improved, Ozone layer has also started healing and people have started to observe the change. Let’s analyze, why Ozone layer has started healing and how we can manage to reduce damage when we go back to our normal routine after corona pandemic.

Reduction in Automobiles:
The harmful gases emission from automobiles’ silencer create smoke, smog and pungent smell. These gases result in acid rain, cough, asthma, lung cancer problems in people. However, due to lockdown local transports have been stopped while only food supplier heavy vehicles are allowed to move. Due to which, the fuel burns emission of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides have reduced significantly. This has aided in reducing stratospheric deterioration.

Industrial closure:
Industries established in KP are more in urban areas due to which people of cities are highly vulnerable to polluted environment. Gadon (Swabi), Hayatabad (Peshawar) and Mardan are some well-known industrial areas, where breathing problems are reported and are also affected by heat stroke and floods. Partial lockdown has resulted in the closure of these industries which are a larger consumer of fuel and producer of effluence. Therefore, lockdown has condensed pollution in air.

Less consumption of energy:
Workplaces, offices and earning points are temporarily closed on the basis of social-distancing and self-isolation which has helped to conserve energy and overcome excessive use of LNG, natural gas, automobiles, fossil fuel, electricity. This has helped in the decrease of pollutants affecting atmospheric drastic change to extreme cold or hot.

Reduction in appliances:
Pollution is directly proportional to number of appliances in use. KPK urban areas such as Kohat, DI khan, Peshawar, Mardan and other cities experience extreme hot weather in summer, due to which people prefer to use refrigerators, air conditioners and fragrant sprays etc. However, they are the main source of destructive gases. Due to lockdown, majority of the offices and shops are closed and use of appliances has reduced which has resulted in less greenhouse gases production.

KP is experiencing improvement in its environment which is clearly visible to the public, duly appreciating it on social media platforms. However, to maintain the healing process and ensure that improvement is not temporary, government and public needs to adopt ways and means which are less harmful for environment. Pollution is a more lethal killer than COVID-19, the sooner we realize this fact the better it will be for us and our coming generation.

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