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The View of the Himalayan Mountains May Only Be a Hallucination

Noah Park, Andrew Kim

June 27, 2020


The Covid-19 has completely transformed the world; by April 9th, 2020, 87,816 people have died worldwide, and 1,531,188 people have tested positive for the virus. Every aspect of our economy has been demobilized, creating an extreme fear of the encroaching danger of the viral infection.

However, the world is also seeing a rather unexpected impact from the virus outbreak. According to Rob Picheta, a CNN reporter, the residents of Punjab, India, could "see the Himalayas for the first time in decades as the lockdown eases air pollution." Also, environmental specialists have reported a considerable enhancement in beach water quality followed by a significant decrease of visitors to public beaches, as published by the Surfrider Foundation. Although such changes have brought a sigh of relief amid the pandemic, some critics have recently argued that these improvements may only be temporary. According to João Roberto Ripper from the UN News, the "Visible, positive impacts – whether through improved air quality or reduced greenhouse gas emissions – are but temporary," due to the further environmental implications that the virus poses. The virus can drastically deteriorate the environment through the disposal of medical waste products from hospitals. For instance, companies located in China, on average, are producing 5 million masks per day, and the accumulation of their waste products will pose a significant threat to the environment. Also, the increased use of disposable products due to the food shortage during quarantine will aggravate the pollution due to the sudden amassing of the waste products. Moreover, to a broader extent, the mental distress caused by the captivation will potentially bring out more people on the streets after the pandemic is lifted, along with the increase of traffics and travelers moving across the globe. Such a phenomenon will dramatically raise the consumption of natural resources, induce more air pollution from the increased greenhouse gas emission. Most importantly, we may be put back into quarantine if the infection rate increases along with the movement of the public. The view of the Himalayan mountains may only be a pie in the sky if we only perceive the apparent. To perpetuate positive changes and prevent a more significant crisis, we must pay close attention to how our response to the virus may be affected by the impact of our vicinity to each other after the quarantine is lifted.

China boosts face mask production by five-fold, stoking glut concerns. (2020, March 16). Retrieved from https://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/3075289/china-boosts-face-mask-production-capacity-450-cent-month

COVID-19 and Beach Water Quality: Updates from the Research Community. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/covid-19-and-beach-water-quality-updates-from-the-research-community

First Person: COVID-19 is not a silver lining for the climate, says UN Environment chief | | UN News. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061082

Picheta, R. (2020, April 9). People in India can see the Himalayas for the first time in 'decades,' as the lockdown eases air pollution. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/himalayas-visible-lockdown-india-scli-intl/index.html

Will Covid-19 have a lasting impact on the environment? (2020, March 27). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200326-covid-19-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-the-environment

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