David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine:
Nature is mighty, and scary, and we have not defeated it but live within it, subject to its temperamental power, no matter where it is that you live or how protected you may normally feel. As the coronavirus has paralyzed much of the northern hemisphere, for instance, 192 billion locusts, perhaps 8,000 times more than usual, are swarming East Africa in clouds as big as whole cities, thanks to weather patterns scrambled by climate change; a small swarm can destroy the food supply of 35,000 people in a single day, and they are now traveling in swathes as wide as 25 miles, imperiling the food supply of tens of millions. In the U.S., it looks likely we will now be sheltering in place into the beginning of hurricane season. “We have been living in a bubble, a bubble of false comfort and denial,” as George Monbiot wrote recently in the Guardian. “Living behind screens, passing between capsules — our houses, cars, offices and shopping malls — we persuaded ourselves that contingency had retreated, that we had reached the point all civilisations seek: insulation from natural hazards.”
COVID-19 is one such hazard we believed, until a few weeks ago, we were mostly invulnerable to. In the future, we may have to reckon also with diseases we believed we already defeated, since in addition to bringing about pandemics of the future, global warming will revive plagues of the past.