We must understand and prepare for the challenges that are happening and will be happening.
As our society faces an unprecedented challenge with the global spread of COVID-19, our lives have changed, and our world is continuously evolving. While we are still in the thick of the challenges, we have learned the lessons.
We are strong together, and we can and will overcome adversity, even at the cost of adjusting our society to help others.
And we can’t ever be stagnant again.
Never before have humans been so globally connected and scientifically prepared to handle a pandemic. Despite this, the disease is threatening to overwhelm medical infrastructure around the world as millions of patients compete for the same supplies, beds, and ventilators. Governments, businesses, and hospitals are scrambling to meet this new demand.
However, the Earth keeps turning throughout the pandemic and natural disasters will continue to occur adding more stress to our health and safety systems. The threats you face and can prepare for, depend on where in the world you live. We can explore how the motions of our Earth will determine the challenges ahead.
The surface of Earth is made of many tectonic plates. These plates are in constant motion and are responsible for much of the life on Earth. The motion creates volcanoes and mountain ranges that refresh the soils and nutrients that drive the plant and animal life on Earth. These same motions can be disastrous when they cause earthquakes and tsunamis that can destroy cities. As COVID stresses our medical capacity around the world, an earthquake would compound the disaster by adding to the injured, ruining our shelters and damaging the desperately needed infrastructure.
Earthquakes can happen at any time but are more likely to occur near the major fault lines on Earth. Convergent Faults, where two plates collide, can cause the largest Earthquakes. These are a threat in places like Chile and Peru, Seattle, Japan, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Iran, and Italy. These nations have experienced some of the most damaging earthquakes in history, and are now at the height of their battle with COVID-19. Other places, like California, face threat from Transform Faults, where plates slide past each other. These earthquakes can still level a city and break apart in fracture. We can hope that a large Earthquake will not strike until after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, but it is smart to prepare for one if you can. Proper Earthquake planning is more important than ever during a pandemic.
Most of the human population is located in the Northern Hemisphere. A Hemisphere that is now entering Spring. While we can hope that we do not experience a major Earthquake, we will face Spring rains, snowmelt, floods, and fires. The Eastern US and Europe are facing the fastest COVID-19 spreading rates and, in some places, the medical system collapse. These places will also face typical Spring flooding that may threaten to close down hospitals and force people from their homes.
One of the main weapons we have against the pandemic is the shelter-in-place order. This slows down the contact that the virus needs to spread and allows the medical infrastructure the chance to catch up. This order becomes meaningless when floods force people out of their houses and into shelters. This is a risk we know is coming, and one that we can prepare for. Comprehensive, and rapid COVID testing can limit virus exposure in any flood shelter that is needed.
In the Western US, fires have become part of the summer experience. The warming of Earth has led to larger and more destructive fires. Just as with flooding, fires will force people from the protection of their homes and risk feeding the pandemic and adding further stress to the medical systems.
As Spring turns to Summer, the US will face its annual Hurricane season. A Hurricane is unique in its ability to shut down a city. While we can not predict an Earthquake, we now that a Hurricane is coming several days in advance. This allows cities to shut down and evacuate when needed to limit damage and injury. The American South and East coast are most at threat from Hurricanes and are currently dealing with the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cities like New Orleans, Miami, and New York have faced devastating Hurricanes in recent years. These cities already have their medical infrastructure pushed to their breaking point, and the added stress of hospital closures and evacuations would be unthinkable.
As humans face the unprecedented modern challenges of COVID-19, the Earth will keep on moving and the seasons will continue to change. We must understand and prepare for the challenges that the Earth will bring, even in our time of trouble.