Lion on a road in South Africa

In many places in the world, wild animals have appeared on the roads now that humans are in quarantine. Photo: Chris Eason (CC BY 2.0)


Is corona a warning signal from nature?

The Corona pandemic has put us humans around the world in the same boat. The crisis threatens all our lives and the world economy. Here in Brazil, the states went into a lockdown or voluntary lockdown shortly after Europe but before the United States, despite the fact that the disease was relatively new in the country. Brazil is likely to continue its lockdown until the end of May, if not longer, while other European countries are reopening. In this way, Brazil wants to be able to flatten its curve properly. 

While the people stay at home, the empty streets and the reduced air traffic have had a positive effect on Brazil's environment, just like so many other countries in a lockdown. When we do not disturb nature, it can come into its own. 

The positive changes that have taken place in nature are visible before our eyes, but also from above space. For example, the air has become cleaner in Brazil and in many more countries. The water in some places has become cleaner, as in Venice, and animals are slowly beginning to venture out again. Given that people are in quarantine, in their homes, it is no wonder that the amount of carbon dioxide in various countries around the world has been drastically reduced. In some countries, emissions have decreased by as much as 40 percent. But historically, it is nothing new that carbon dioxide emissions decrease when countries enter a recession. The question is instead how, after the corona crisis, do we maintain the positive changes that have taken place in nature?

The current corona pandemic is just one example of what a pandemic might look like. If we are not careful or prepared, a new pandemic may occur, and it may be worse than the one we are currently experiencing. Such a pandemic could happen if we continue to abuse the environment. In that case, the climate effects could strike back at human life at very short notice. An example of this is how elevated temperatures in the world can contribute to an increase in mosquitoes. If the mosquitoes that carry malaria or the zika virus increase, it could lead to even more fell ill and killed. It would be devastating for Brazil, where both malaria and the zika virus already exist.

Has the environment therefore sent us a warning signal? The example of the mosquitoes is just one of several disasters that could occur if we do not prevent the increase in global warming. We must find a way to coexist on earth with the environment. Look at how quickly we have been forced to adapt and find many new approaches during the corona crisis. Imagine if we humans could use our talents and today's technology to live in a more sustainable way. In order to stop future disasters, we need to review our political, economic and social systems.

Brazil, like many other countries, will have to change society when the lockdown is over. The most important thing then will be to think long-term. How the country should do to live in harmony with nature, however, is difficult to answer. But that they should include environmental thinking is becoming increasingly inevitable if they want to reduce the risk of a new pandemic. I hope that Brazil - along with the rest of the world - sees the ongoing corona pandemic as nature's warning sign of future pandemics and climate change.

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