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International Space Station NASA

Contrary to (what appears to be a re-emerging) popular belief, the Earth is round, as evident in the picture above. Another intriguing fact is that this year has so far been unlike any other in recent times. And it’s only just begun.

The super-virus of 2020 needs no introduction, as it has garnered even more fame than John Lennon in his heyday. And with good reason. COVID-19, although not as deadly as some previous pandemics, has spread more rapidly across the globe than its counterparts of the recent past, virtually paralyzing the entire planet.

Sadly, thousands of vulnerable people have lost their lives, and many more are seeking treatment at overcrowded hospitals. The world’s economy has taken a major blow. The tourism sector is in the process of imploding along with nearly every other industry that spins the wheels of the global market.

But there’s another part of this very same planet that appears to be recovering, albeit modestly, as a result: nature.

In recent history, human activities have affected nearly every corner of the globe. A 2018 report by the World Wildlife Fund found that 60% of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish went extinct between 1970 and 2014.    

Credit: Alternative-energies.net

But since the paucity in transportation, mass tourism and everyday commerce, some species are reclaiming their previous habitats. One example is the city of Venice, in Italy, the city on a lake regularly inundated with tourists. The dearth of visitors has made the waters blue again and swarms of fish have returned, perhaps allured by the newfound tranquility that hasn’t characterized the city in decades (perhaps centuries).

Residents of numerous Chinese cities are seeing blue skies for the first time, and recent studies are showing how the sudden reduction in air pollution may actually be saving more lives than the pandemic is taking, as toxic air causes respiratory diseases that take millions of lives every year.

Credit: SeaChange

This isn’t to say we should celebrate the indirect effects of the coronavirus COVID-19, and my condolences go out to those whose lives it has taken. But humanity can learn a great deal from the current crisis. The ability to genuinely grasp how detrimental our everyday activities are for the planet and ourselves is key if we hope to survive into the future.

Instead of waiting for government officials to save us, individual actions can go a long way in containing pandemics. The same goes for environmental degradation and human induced climate change. Small steps like taking public transport instead of driving, or eating plant-based foods instead of animal products, can help clean the atmosphere and restore habitats, without the need for a global pandemic to freshen our air and let our oceans recover from contamination.

A new way to offset our carbon footprint is by way of myclimate.org. Here we can actually calculate our carbon footprint in a few easy steps, and find interesting ways to compensate for the damage we may have inadvertently caused, by donating to environmental projects around the world. This tool helps us to easily calculate the amount of C02 we’ll emit by travelling to a specific destination, or to just find out how much we’re emitting on a regular basis, and the adjustments we can make.

So let’s take this crisis as a lesson learned. By using the instruments with which technology provides us, we can learn exactly what adjustments we can make in our daily habits to create a better world.

If we can manage that, I’m sure John Lennon would have been proud.

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