COVID-19: A Darwinian Alternative

2 May, 2020
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Over the last decade or so, it was always highlighted that “Humans are doing far too much for themselves and in the process, causing global warming, depleting the ozone layer and causing irreversible damage to the planet they share with other species”. Ironically, humans pointed that out. But there were more humans with power to fuel their greed than ones who care.

Darwin’s theory of evolution declared that species survived through a process called "natural selection", where those that successfully adapted or evolved to meet the changing requirements of their natural habitat thrived and reproduced, while those species that failed to evolve and reproduce died off.

Humans developed scientific knowledge and technical skills to overcome basic problems thrown at them by mother nature – so natural selection was, to some extent, hacked by humans. Theory suggesting “Survival of the Fittest” was always in favour of the humans as we learned more and more and became fit to fight. Then came COVID-19!

In the movie Jurassic Park, gifted mathematician Ian Malcolm who believed in “chaos theory” (Jeff Goldblum played the role) mentioned that “life always finds a way”. If mother nature represent life – COVID-19 is the way to stop humans – for a few months at least – just enough to bring the change and stop the chain of destruction!

Working from home for nearly 2 months now: I personally haven’t used transport, I haven’t gone shopping more than once a week. I also noticed that my food intake has reduced owing to less physical activity. I personally reduced my carbon footprint by more than a 3rd. And this would be the situation with many – some were way more outbound than I was – so it may not be out of place to think that in some cases, individuals have reduced their own carbon footprint by half.

Industrial activity was the main contributor to greenhouse gas emission and that came to a halt for the last couple of months. On January 27th WHO declared Corona-Virus, a Global Emergency and on 28th April, 3 months since, The Independent in Britain reported that “Largest-Ever Arctic Ozone Hole Closes". It only makes visible what damage human industrial activity was bringing on to our planet.

Industrial in activity mapped from space shows how the spread of COVID-19 gave our planet the breathing space it needed. Images given in CNN shown the difference. No human to run the plants – no human activity to pollute the air.

Improvement in air quality over Wuhan is even more drastic. Lack of industrial activity in Wuhan is clearly visible from space.

The average number of "good quality air days" increased 21.5% in February, compared to the same period last year, according to China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment. (17/3/20 - CNN).

The country's major coal-fired power stations saw a 36% drop in consumption from February 3rd to March 1st compared to the same period last year, according to CREA analysis of WIND data service statistics. "The largest consumers of coal -- coal-fired power plants -- have been affected a lot because electricity demand is down," said Myllyvirta. "I think it's clear that this effect will continue for the next weeks and months, because there has also been a major impact on the demand side of the economy." (17/03/20 - CNN)

But these come at a cost to us humans. We are used to industrial prosperity. We are used to wasteful practices. How does it fit in? In my opinion, we are walking through a tunnel of COVID-19 issues and we have no space to think what is coming. When we come out the other side of it – we will see a trail of ruins of what we built over years!

Job market will see serious change – many jobs will not exist at all. Hospitality, Tourism, Travel will require substantial remodeling. Sports will never be the same again, including the gambling industry having a drastic drop. Retail industry will have to adapt online methods more than the traditional in-store methods. I don’t see more than 2/3rd actually returning to job market. The remaining , will be un-employable. COVID-19, silently, rendered a 3rd of the population unfit – talk about survival of the fittest!

It will be a scene similar to the last scene of “Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part-II”. Hopefully we will have the will power like Harry to break the wand and throw it away. Our greed caused the ruin once and we don’t want it again.

Mankind, will have to adjust to live in a new normal society. They will have to adapt to remain a Natural Selection. COVID-19, incidentally, is a mutating virus. So, we can never let our guards down. It’s occurrence acts as a balancing force to correct the course when we cross the boundary.

What a masterstroke from Nature.

200 years on Darwin proven right once again!

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