imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

The brighter side

I don’t know if this one merits your nod, fellas.

With the millions of people infected with Covid-19 and the deaths slowly racing up to hundreds of thousands, the scene has shifted to people dying in hospital beds and thousands are either buried or cremated. The atmosphere depicts an aura of darkness.

British actor Edith Evans says, “Death is my neighborhood now.”

But plague like this Covid-19 is nothing new. Since time immemorial, man has been beset by three pandemics: bubonic plague, septicemic plague, and pneumonic plague.

Bubonic plague is the most common form and is so called because it is characterized by the appearance of buboes—enlarged, inflamed lymph nodes—in the groin or armpit or on the neck. Usually it is contracted by being bitten by an infected rodent or flea.

Septicemic plague occurs when the plague bacteria multiplies in the blood. It is contracted the same way as bubonic plague, but it can also appear as a complication of untreated bubonic or pneumonic plague.

Pneumonic plague, the rarest and most serious form of the disease, occurs when the plague bacteria infects the lungs and causes pneumonia. It is most often transmitted through the air by respiratory droplets from the lungs of infected persons or animals. Secondary pneumonic plague can develop if bubonic or septicemic plague goes untreated and spreads to the lungs.

Historians record that plague has been known for at least 3,000 years. Epidemics have been recorded in China since 224 bc. The disease occurred in huge pandemics (global epidemics) that destroyed the entire populations of cities throughout the Middle Ages; they have occurred sporadically since that time. The last great pandemic began in China in 1894 and spread to Africa, the Pacific Islands, Australia, and the Americas, reaching San Francisco in 1900.

 And this latest great pandemic started again in China!

But for every plague, there is hope and renewal as what our world is experiencing due to the lockdowns.

So, cheer up, fellas. Not everything is dark. There is something bright at the end of the tunnel!

What did the lockdowns bring us?

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Institute of Environmental Science & Meteorology (IESM) at the University of the Philippines Diliman and released data showing how air pollution decreased in the metropolis. In a news release, the Environmental Pollution Studies Laboratory of IESM-CS-UP Diliman said that stations recorded a 180% decrease in PM2.5 since the enhanced community quarantine was imposed in Metro Manila in March 16, 2020.”

PM or particulate matter refers to the mixture of solid particles or liquid droplets (water, dust and salt particles) in the atmosphere. PM2.5 refers to particulate matters that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers or just 3 percent of the diameter of a human hair. High levels of fine particulate matter in the air can reduce visibility or make the sky look hazy. 

According to the Environmental Pollution Studies Laboratory, PM2.5 is airborne dust particles that can enter the lungs, aggravate pre-existing respiratory conditions and cause shortness of breath.

During the lockdowns, PM2.5 is reduced from 70% to 180% in various areas in Metro Manila where pollutants come mainly from vehicle emissions.

“The COVID-19 patients and the rest of the patients in the QC hospital zone have either obstructive or restrictive breathing, thus, are in much need of clean air,” Dr. Myleen Cayetano of Airtoday said.

The Himawari satellite, which is used by the PAGASA for weather monitoring, noted that the significant decrease in the Atmospheric Optical Depth (AOD). A lower AOD at 0.01 means the air is clean in that area while a 0.5 value means hazy conditions. The IESM said it means Metro Manila’s air quality is better and there is less air pollution. The same can be said for Southern Tagalog but not for Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley where agricultural burning continues.

“This explains why our sky now is clear and looks clean,” said DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda. Cleaner air has been the single greatest positive effect of the lockdowns on the environment.

It is also evident in other parts of the globe, fellas.

Reports say that in India people can now see the Himalaya Mountains from rooftops and empty streets for the first time in their lives, due to the drop in air pollution caused by the country’s coronavirus lockdown. In Northern Punjab, amazed people have shared pictures of the mountains which has been hidden by pollution for 30 years!

In Paris, Madrid and Milan have all seen a reduction in average levels of nitrogen dioxide from March 14-25, compared with the same period last year, according to satellite images.

In Venice, famous for its winding canals, saw the appearance of dolphins and swans. Residents in the city have said the waterways are benefiting from the lack of usual boat traffic brought on by the hordes of tourists who visit each year.

“Nature has returned and is taking back possession of the city and yes, we would all like Venice to stay like this for a while,” Gloria Beggiato​, a local hotel owner said.

There are also herds taking over a seaside town in Wales and deers roaming in a Japanese city in search of food. In Barcelona, Spain, boars have been spotted along the city streets frolicking in the once busy streets. In Santiago, Chile, a wild puma, descending from an adjacent hill, was captured during a night-time curfew

In Northern America, orcas have been spotted in parts of Canada. The deer in Nara, Japan, have meanwhile been on the move because the park they inhabit has become devoid of tourists who usually feed them. Small herds venturing into the city have been spotted nibbling at flowers and plants.

In the UK, increased sightings of moles, a common name for certain small, burrowing mammals, started to appear in footpaths.

How about in your place, fellas?

DJ Tom, a schoolteacher said that aside from his “discovery” that he has lots of fruit-bearing trees surrounding his house and are now bearing fruits, said that the lockdown restored his interest on his first love – writing.

“The mornings, despite this summer, are cooler than usual,” observed Claire, a self-employed businesswoman.

 Rudy, a municipal employee said that the lockdown days gave him lots of time to fix his broken furniture, the fence surrounding his house and was able to patch his roof holes.

In other words, the Covid-19 days have brought out the best in man and nature, that there is always hope for our world despite the abuses that man is making. God loves us so much that He sends pestilence, typhoons, earthquakes and other forms of calamities to remind us that we ought to treat the world as our one and only home planet.

Hope springs eternal, fellas, as English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley said it best:

Life may change, but it may fly not;
Hope may vanish, but can die not;

Truth be veiled, but still it burneth;
Love repulsed,—but it returneth!