hands with latex gloves holding a globe with a face mask

Are Humans a Pandemic to the Earth?

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The year 2020 has been a year of realization, a year to take a step back and analyze where things went downhill. In its wake, the common man questioned, “Are humans a pandemic to the Earth? Are we the virus? And Coronavirus the Earth’s vaccine?”. Certainly, a handful of positive environmental changes and environmentalist theories suggested so.

Huge drop in Air Pollution, better Global Air Quality

An extensive study by NASA used computer models to generate a COVID-free 2020 for comparison. NASA researchers found that since February, pandemic restrictions have reduced global nitrogen dioxide concentrations by nearly 20%.

Nitrogen dioxide is an air pollutant produced as a result of road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion processes. Its presence in the air contributes to the formation and modification of other air pollutants. Harmful effects lead to ozone depletion, acid rain & particulate matter suspended in the air. The pandemic resulted in lockdowns, temporary shutdowns of heavy polluting industries. Carbon emissions plummeted, slashing air pollution levels around the globe.

Animals retreating to Urban Areas

As people got locked indoors, animals filled the void on the streets. A variety of species of animals, birds & fishes were spotted in the abandoned roads and waterways around the globe. Instances of wild animals travelling down urban roads were reported. From wild boars to dolphins, a quieter environment encouraged them to move out of the mental maps they create for protection against predators.

Clear Water in the Canals of Venice

Pictures surfaced on social media indicating the clear waters in Venice. Pictures of dolphins swimming gleefully in its canals which turned out to be false. But the larger picture suggested that clear waters do not indicate it to be absolved of toxic substances.

Although the detrimental effects vastly outweighed the marginal environmental benefits. These changes impacted the mass media and struck up a chain of tweets saying, “Are humans a pandemic to the Earth? Yes, we are the virus!”

Ecofascist Theory

Ecofascism is a theoretical political model in which an authoritarian government would require individuals to sacrifice their own interests to the “organic whole of nature”.

Ecofascism relies heavily on a theory of “deep ecology“, on a theory that the only way to preserve life on Earth is by reducing it forcefully, sterilization & genocide being some of the popular solutions. It propagates the idea that humans mimic the ways of a virus and abruptly reducing our numbers is the only path to survival.

Besides the horrific outcomes from believing in this theory, its shades of colourism, racism and fascism highly negate the idea that “Humans are the pandemic to the Earth.”

The 11:59 Problem

Books like Inferno by Dan Brown have suggested how the human population has grown exponentially over the last decades. And how that might lead to the collapse of the human civilization.

‘Humanity is the disease; Inferno is the cure.”

Bertrand Zobrist, Inferno

Zobrist, the villain scientist in the book Inferno paints a dire picture. If 12:00 represents the time when the Earth will reach its capacity for human life, then it’s currently 11:59 for humanity, and there’s only a minute left before we cross the point of no return.

It calls out attention to how humans are growing, constantly evolving, reproducing like a virus. Our host being Mother Earth, we are purging her of her natural resources. If this theory is to sustain, it would only be a matter of time before a pandemic such as the Covid-19 pandemic would wipe out humans so that the Earth would live. Exactly the way we are trying to get rid of the coronavirus. Exactly the way, the dinosaurs met their end.

The Actual Truth

Despite the social media beckoning us to question “Are humans the pandemic to the Earth?”, we must realize the truth. And nothing could be far from the truth. Covid-19 is not nature’s way of healing itself like in the Old Testament. The pandemic is not trying to show that humans are a pandemic to the Earth. Rather, it is an eye-opener, to make us see that our bond with nature still exists. It is growing faint and it is our responsibility to nurture it back to health.

The capitalist business model of the industry is perpetuated on convincing everyone to ignore the impact of climate changes. Climate denial benefits a set of already wealthy individuals and prohibits us from mending our relationship with nature. A major subset of fast, modern solutions pushes us further from a better climate, a better world. They are only cycles of rising corporate profits and endless economic growth. Denial is a healthy coping mechanism, innate to human psychology but that does not justify ignorance.

Humans are co-dependent creatures and our existence highly depends on natural resources from the Earth. Overfishing, pollution, monocropping, exhaustion through the extraction of petroleum. Every single action threatens our very existence. Each extra puff of carbon pollution and piece of single-use plastic that ends up in the ocean ties our fate ever tighter to that of the planet. Eventually, all that carbon dioxide will push seas higher and inundate our homes. And the plastic will choke the world, leading to deserted oceans and dried up livelihoods.

The Answer

Saying “we’re the virus” kicks all of that to the curb. It erases our sense of urgency and brings a mindset that “nothing can be done”. At the crucial moment, when we need to acknowledge our relationship with the planet, we throw it away. Like flowers need rain and sunlight, we need the biosphere and now is the time we work for it.

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