Eco-Catastrophes: A Response From the Earth?

The past 12 months have been a year in which the earth has spoken to us in a clear voice. Sure, the corona virus is at the forefront of the media now. But let us not forget that it’s been a year of one unexpected earthly tragedy after another.

The Australian bushfire season began with several uncontrollable fires in September as Australia experienced its driest spring on record. In October, Australia’s annual bushfire season officially begins. As fires starting to get intense, a state of emergency is declared in New South Wales and Queensland. Fire continued to spread nonstop during November and December, killing billions of animals, leading koalas to extinction and causing more than 700,000 bats flying all over the sky . The bushfire arouses attention from all over the world, becoming one of the most significant ecological disasters in recent years.

Australian bushfire 2019-20, image taken from The Wall Street Journal

While Australian forests are firing up, regions around the world are meanwhile suffering from other disasters. One of the most significant crisis that caught up the world’s attention is the outbreak coronavirus in Wuhan, China. This virus, originated from the wild animals that were carrying virus from bats, out broke in wuhan, soon spreading to every regions in China and the entire world. Most people who are infected experience symptoms such as sore throat, coughing, running nose, fever, headache, body weakness and more. Most strangely, some patients who are diagnosed with coronavirus do not experience any symptoms, but could still infect others. Recently, confirmed cases around the world have reached to more than 3 million, with deaths in the hundreds of thousands.

WUHAN, CHINA – JANUARY 22: People wear face masks as they wait at Hankou Railway Station. (Photo by Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images)

With the continuous fermentation of new coronavirus around the globe, cities like Singapore are experiencing the inevitable lockdown, turning the originally lively cities into empty shells of their previous vibrance.

Images taken from the video “24 hours after the coronavirus lockdown, Wuhan”

The Australian bushfire and the coronavirus are not the only concerning events circling around the world. While much of the attention has been focused on coronavirus, there’s another virus that has been keeping hospitals in America incredibly busy this time of year. That is, the flu virus. Although flu virus spreads almost every year, this year could count as the most severe year in the past 40 years—the CDC estimates that this flu season have been at least 22 million cases in the US with more than 12000 deaths. With the addition of coronavirus, panics around the world is rising, and the only way to avoid viruses is to wear mask, wash hands frequently, and avoid crowded spaces.

There is a saying that misfortunes never comes alone. Recently, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced a warning to the globe, hoping the world could put their high alert on the rampant locust plague. This locust plague, originated from East Asia, is currently spreading to Europe and Asia, reaching to Pakistan and India. FAO warned that this locust plague’s destructive power on crops will be the most significant one within the past 25 years in the East Asia region, and will also be the most significant one within the past 70 years in Kenya. Furthermore, FAO estimates that the extending trend of locust plague might last till June, with a scale that could be 500 times larger than the current scale.

Locust plague, image taken from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Besides these major disasters that have caught most people’s attention, there are other global events that hardly create a blip on the radar. In Nigeria, a previously unknown fever named Lassa fever broke out and killed dozens. “As at 24th of January 2020, 195 confirmed cases and 29 deaths had been reported in 11 states,” said Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Volcanoes erupted in Philippines, earthquakes took place in mainland China, Taiwan, Philippines, Chile and more. In South and North poles, the speed of ice melting continues to increase.

As we entered into the year of 2020, humans seemed to unintentionally opened the Pandora’s box, letting almost every possible natural and man-made disasters out. Although we faced all kinds of inevitable catastrophes in the past years, the disasters were never this concentrated in a short amount of time. We should also realize the fact that the environment has to be sacrificed if one wants the society to develop faster. Thus, when we face difficulties during societal development, we should use our developmental skills to solve problems.

That is, we are now able to solve problems when we are facing disasters more effectively because we have mastered productivity and scientific research abilities that we never got to master in the past. Hence, when inevitable catastrophes occurs, we should try to restore societal orders and lower the loss as much as possible. When we are suffering from difficulties, we should still remain confident for our abilities and powers, while giving the most passion we could to protect our planet that we are all residing in. 

Film The Wandering Earth, image taken from Weibo.

“In the beginning, no one minded this disaster, it was just a bushfire, a drought, an extinction of one species, a disappearance of a city….until this disaster started to relate to every one of us.” 

The Wandering Earth, 2019.

We should not hold a “take it as granted” attitude, thinking that we deserve everything we’ve accomplished on this planet until now. No matter whether it is a man-made or natural disaster, violent storms or earthquakes or plague, the world that we live in right now can ultimately be destroyed at the rate we are watching the status quo turn into a dystopian film with heavy reason to be very concerned.

Author: Christine(Qiao) Li

Christine (Qiao) Li is currently a senior and this is her first year working for The Eye. She is from China and spent most of her childhood there, but came to Singapore several years ago. In her freetime, she likes to get involved in music and arts, listen to music and drink bubble tea. She can be contacted at li48695@sas.edu.sg.

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