Dr. Maya Mahajan, ENVIS Coordinator and Associate Professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore moderated the Session and discussed the background of the subject in her introductory speech. Documentaries on the impact of lockdown on the environment in India and in other countries were screened
She also discussed about decrease in level of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and NO2 in various countries such as China, Italy, US and India, which is clearly visible in NASA images. She mentioned that there is 25 percent decrease in GHG levels in China and around 200 million tons of carbon dioxide has reduced just during two months of lockdown period. Pollution levels are drastically down in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore in just 21 days after lockdown. No2 level has drastically reduced in China, Italy and many other countries during lockdown. Water quality in Ganga, Yamuna, Venice canals has improved and dolphins and fishes are clearly visible. Animals are roaming free on the roads in many counties. However, she raised the concern about what will happen when lockdown is lifted. Again we will start polluting as before or even more in the name of economic growth. She mentioned that we cannot extend lockdown to save environment, but we can slow down, understand the difference between need and greed, essential and non-essential things and adopt sustainable development and sustainable lifestyle as lockdown has taught us that environmental damage can be reduced or reversed in such a short period with drastic actions. We need to learn this lesson and take prevention measures after lockdown which can lead to the continuous improvement of environmental quality.
Later while explaining health hazards due to air pollution she discussed about the facts that in China every year more than 7 million people die because of air pollution as per WHO reports and in India 1.2 people die due to air pollution, which has not been taken seriously which is actually much higher as compared to deaths due to coronavirus pandemic. She quoted the study by Marshall brokes from Stanford university which says air pollution levels without lockdown would have killed 20 times more people in China than the number of people died due to COVID 19. Another research study also indicated that 4000 children and 73000 elderly peoples life is saved due to avoided pollution due to present lockdown in China,
However, she also stressed that we need not undermine threats due to COVID-19 and have to take maximum precautions to fight COVID-19 pandemic however we also should not neglect health hazards due to environmental pollutions. She concluded the session by stating that on this international biodiversity day we should understand that every species has equal right to live on this planet and human being is just a part of nature and we must respect nature. At the end, she explained the importance of Sustainable lifestyle and development, which has to be the new normal in the post lockdown days.
Dr. Aruna Ramachandran discussed about what happened in the Wuhan wet market in China and the main reason behind the outbreak of the zoonotic disease COVID-19. She also explained about why we should avoid wildlife trafficking and should not kill wildlife.
Ms. Chinmai Hemani discussed about the similarity between corona pandemic and climate change. She said that based on UN report corona is a temporary event and climate change is long event or an ongoing process, which we need global cooperation and support to find a solution. She also discussed about the changes we can bring to the policy making at government level and individual level for a Sustainable lifestyle.
Sony R. K. discussed about the De-growth movement, which is happening around the world. He highlighted that COVID-19 makes us to think about a just world in terms of economics and environment.
Due to overwhelming responses received from college students, researchers and faculty members from various institutions, we conducted the webinar in 2 consecutive sessions one from 5 to 5.40 pm and other from 6.10 to 6.50 pm with around 200 participants. We thank all the participants and speakers for their contribution and we look forward to organizing such online sessions in the coming days.
About Resource People
Dr. Maya Mahajan is an environmental professional and a passionate and committed environmentalist who is currently associated with the Centre for a Sustainable Future, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore campus. She has more than 25 years of experience in research, training, advocacy and management in various sectors of Environment and Development – Biodiversity Conservation, Climate change and Sustainable Development, Participatory Forest Management, Wetland Ecology, Forest Ecology, Environmental Pollution and Environment Education while working with Research and academic Institutes, NGOs and corporate sector in various parts of India. She has presented and published several scientific papers in books, national and international journals, as well as being the keynote speaker for numerous international conferences including 6th Griha summit, Earth Science and Engineering, Environmental Governance & Sustainable development and has written books, book chapters and several popular articles on various environmental issues. She has received several awards including International women Achievers award in the field of Environment and sustainability by Venus Internationals
Ms. Chinmai Hemani is a climate change and sustainability professional from Gujarat working under her proprietary firm name RuChiNi ESP. She has rich experience of over 7 years on research, community outreach with NGOs, corporates and grant based independent researches on climate change vulnerability assessment, adaptation planning, policy analysis wrt climate change and sustainable development, sustainable living. She is an avid nature lover, believer and follower of frugal living and a traveller. She sincerely believes, wisdom from traditional knowledge, religion and ancient India can show way to the world on sustainable living.Prior to the works on climate change and her MTech in climate change and sustainable development in 2013, she has over 8 years of exp in telecom domain.
Dr. Aruna Ramachandran Working as Assistant Professor of Botany at Thiagarajar College, Madurai. She completed PhD at SACON. Selected as Darwin fellow during 2008 and visited UK for a research training. She has 12 Years of Research experience. Handled UGC and Tamilnadu Forest Dept. projects.
Sony R. K. is currently working as an assistant manager at ICLEI-Local Goverments for Sustainability, New Delhi. His work at ICLEI focuses on assessing land degradation in Himachal Pradesh, biodiversity mainstreaming efforts in Kochi City in collaboration with the city government etc. He is in the final stages of his PhD from Ashoka Trust for Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). His PhD research focused on the transformation of environmentalism in Kerala. He was also a visiting faculty at the Trans-disciplinary University, Bangalore, where he taught foundation course on sociology and qualitative research methods for Bachelors and Masters students in Conservation Future.