Staying positive in times of global crisis
From the death of basketball star Kobe Bryant to devastating wildfires in Australia to the developing COVID-19 virus, 2020 has been a very long, and sometimes terrifying, rollercoaster. While bad news seems to pile up, 2020 has also brought some very good news to the world.
While much of the media regarding the novel COVID-19 virus is a harrowing reminder of global horror, there are some spectacular strides being made in science to help slow the spread. According to the Center for Disease Control, 95% of known cases are in mild condition. And while many scientists around the globe search for a vaccine, researchers at Colorado State University are also beginning to make progress on understanding the virus. On April 3, researchers at CSU announced that they are pursuing a vaccine using bacteria found in yogurt. Researchers across the country are working hard to find solutions, not only to help the immediate threat of COVID-19, but to further broaden pharmaceutical horizons.
As much of America stays home to slow the spread of COVID-19, many are adopting and fostering animals to keep them company. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the World Health Organization announced that pets have a very minimal risk of spreading the disease. Foster Dogs Inc., a New York based dog fostering organization, has seen a 1,000% increase in foster applications. Right here in Colorado, the Humane Society of Weld County has had a similar surge in foster applications throughout much of March. Less animals are in shelters, and more are in loving homes.
But dogs and cats are not the only animals seeing positive changes. In Britain, a new study has begun to reintroduce beavers to the natural landscape in an effort to alleviate flooding and boost the overall environment. The River Otter Beaver Trial began to reintroduce the beavers in 2015, and in 2020, the beaver population has officially moved from their “extinct” designation to “critically endangered.” The community is seeing a 30% decrease in flooding, according to National Geographic, as well as a decrease in pollutants.
Victories for the environment are also happening on America’s side of the pond. In 2016, the Dakota Access Group LLC began constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a several billion dollar oil pipeline that ran from Illinois through the Dakotas. The project was met with immense protest from indigenous groups throughout the area due to the pipeline’s impact on reservation supplies of water and other natural resources. While the Obama administration halted construction on the project, the Trump administration quickly reinstated the permits, despite heavy protest from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. In March 2020, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe won their lawsuit against the current administration when the court found that the reinstatement of those permits was illegal. As such, the Dakota Access Pipeline will likely be shut down, resulting in success for both indigenous people in the area and environmental activists.
Despite the overwhelming amount of scary stuff in the world, there are good things too. Keeping informed doesn’t have to mean only focusing on COVID-19 or the struggling economy. Scientists, activists and beavers around the world are working to make it a better place.