pkhanna5_Ira L. BlackCorbis via Getty Images_coronavirussocialdistancesign Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

How to Live with the Pandemic

The arrival of summer in the Northern Hemisphere has brought a flurry of speculation that warmer and wetter weather will hold down the COVID-19 infection rate. But even if the hoped-for relationship between transmission and warm weather is valid, it may not be causal or straightforward, especially given seasonal behavior.

NEW YORK/SINGAPORE/LOMBOK, INDONESIA – The COVID-19 crisis has caused scientists, governments, and public-health experts to scramble to understand the relationship between the transmission of zoonotic diseases (those that jump from animals to humans) and environmental variability, patterns of human mobility, and commerce. In the process, it has become painfully clear how much we have yet to learn about the world around us.

But while no one can credibly predict what comes next, we can certainly be better prepared for the next phase of global life with COVID-19. In a sense, viewing the disease and its impact through multiple lenses – epidemiological, economic, political, and social – obstructs our vision. Without a systematic, holistic approach, leaders will continue to miss important pieces of the puzzle.

Such an approach should start by rejecting the misleading divide between man and nature. The term “Anthropocene” that is now applied to our age has given us a false sense of control over the environment. COVID-19 has forced us to recognize that the Anthropocene signifies a relentless feedback loop in which our behavior unleashes chain reactions that accelerate both climate change and the spread of pandemics. With no infrastructural or geopolitical boundaries between us and the natural world, neither nationalism nor protectionism can stop this process.

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