Nature’s attempts to keep us on check

O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois (February, 2020)

Just look at our numbers, the count of humans walking over the face of earth. And all of us want the good life: travel, dine-out, have one or two good showers a day, drive our SUVs, be cared for by a dentist and a doctor, procreate, go to college, leave our mark on earth, attend our sporting events, be entertained… There is nothing wrong with our aspirations. But there is everything wrong with our numbers. This is certainly not a case of “the more, the merrier”. No, sir.

Once in a while, nature -and we are part of nature, mind you- will attempt to curtail our numbers. Earthquakes, volcanoes, wild asteroids, floods…. such is the nature of nature . You could even argue that wars fall also under the same category. This latest nature’s attempt has taken the shape of a somewhat deadly little virus, a brainless living particle that causes COVID19. Consider the Spanish Flu of 1918. the Hong Kong flu of 1968, the HIV pandemic, the Cholera pandemics, the Black Death, the Plague of Justinian….it is all part of the same pattern to keep us on check and re-establish homeostasis. Nature is far from evil, there is no maleficent brain behind it, nature is only behaving “naturally”.

Studies based on satellite scans have determined that air pollution in China has diminished by an astounding 25% since the virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan, such is the magnitude of the resulting industrial slowdown. Ironically (or perhaps not so), the Dow Jones Industrial average has now seen a contraction of 25% with respect to its February high. A slowdown in the economy has resulted in a much needed break for the environment. The atmospheric pollution in China was reduced so dramatically that the change can be seen from space.

While humans gain the upper hand on this battle against the Coronavirus, let’s remind ourselves that Covid19 will not wipe us off the earth. Our numbers will not even be reduced by 25%, thankfully. We will likely outsmart the virus, at some point. Yet, there might be lessons to be learned from this whole upheaval. The main one is personal and it is kind of obvious: do not take your life for granted and, for God’s sake: live accordingly. But also as importantly: be aware that excess human population is at the root of our maladies, including environmental degradation, ocean pollution, lack of access to education and health resources, famine, global warming and the list goes on. As our numbers continue to grow, the frequency of these virus pandemics are likely to increase. They already have. Viruses will continue to evolve and mutate and become smarter and there will come a time, perhaps sooner than later, when one will turn into a truly deadly machine. There is enough number of hosts out there to make it worthwhile *


  1. The theme of this blog brought to mind La madre naturaleza, -a 19th century novel, written by the Spanish author Emilia Pardo Bazán- in which nature is the strongest character, at times compassionate, often more than a mother is rather a stepmother.


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