When Will Life Return to Normal From COVID-19?
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When Will Life Return to Normal?

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COVID19 When Will Life Return To Normal According to Experts

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When Will Life Return to Normal?

From battles on the front lines to social distancing from friends and family, COVID-19 has caused a massive shake-up of our daily lives.

After second-guessing everything from hugging our loved ones to delaying travel, there is one big question that everyone is likely thinking about: will we ever get back to the status quo? The answer may not be very clear-cut.

Today’s graphic uses data from New York Times’ interviews of 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists from the U.S. and Canada, and visualizes their opinions on when they might expect to resume a range of typical activities.

Life in the Near Future, According to Experts

Specifically, this group of epidemiologists were asked when they might personally begin engaging in 20 common daily activities again.

The responses, based on the latest publicly available and scientifically-backed data, varied based on assumptions around local pandemic response plans. The experts also noted that their answers would change depending on potential treatments and testing rates in their local areas.

Here are the activities that a majority of professionals see starting up as soon as this summer, or within a year’s time:

 This summer3-12 months+1 yearNever again
📬 Bring in mail without precautions64%16%17%3%
👩‍⚕️ See a doctor for a non-urgent appointment60%29%11%<1%
🚗 Vacation overnight within driving distance56%26%18%<1%
💇‍♂️ Get a haircut at a salon or barber shop41%39%19%1%
🥳 Attend a small dinner party32%46%21%<1%
🥾 Hike or picnic outdoors with friends31%41%27%<1%
🎒 Send kids to school, camp, or day care30%55%15%<1%
🏢 Work in a shared office27%54%18%1%
👶 Send children on play dates23%47%29%1%
🚌 Ride a subway or a bus20%40%39%1%
👴 Visit elderly relative or friend in their home20%41%39%<1%
✈️ Travel by airplane20%44%37%<1%
🍽️ Eat at a dine-in restaurant16%56%28%<1%
🏋️ Exercise at a gym or fitness studio14%42%40%4%

The urge to be outdoors is pretty clear, with 56% of those surveyed hoping to take a road trip before the summer is over. Meanwhile, 31% felt that they would be able to go hiking or have a picnic with friends this summer, citing the need for “fresh air, sun, socialization and a healthy activity” to help keep on top of their physical and mental health during this time.

Public transport and travel of any form is one aspect that has been put on hold, whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile. Many of the surveyed epidemiologists also lamented the strain the pandemic has had on relationships, as evidenced by the social situations they hope to restart sooner rather than later.

The worst casualty of the epidemic is the loss of human contact.

—Eduardo Franco, McGill University

On the other hand, there are certain activities that they considered too risky to engage in for the time-being. A large share are putting off attending celebrations such as weddings or concerts for at least a year or more, out of perceived social responsibility.

 This summer3-12 months+1 yearNever again
👰⚰️ Attend a wedding or a funeral17%41%42%<1%
🤗🤝 Hug or shake hands when greeting a friend14%39%42%6%
💞 Go out with someone you don't know well14%42%42%2%
🛐 Attend a church or other religious service13%43%43%2%
😷 Stop routinely wearing a face covering7%40%52%1%
🎫 Attend a sporting event, concert, or play3%32%64%1%

Perhaps the most surprising finding is that 6% of epidemiologists do not expect to ever hug or shake hands as a post-pandemic greeting. On top of this, over half consider masks necessary for at least the next year.

The Virus Sets the Timeline

Of course, these estimates are not meant to represent every situation. The experts also practically considered whether certain activities were avoidable or not—such as one’s occupation—which affects individual risk levels.

The answers [about resuming these activities] have nothing to do with calendar time.

—Kristi McClamroch, University at Albany

While many places are trickling out of lockdown and re-opening to support the economy, some officials are still warning against prematurely lifting restrictions before we fully have a handle on the virus and its spread.

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Green

Mapped: Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

This detailed map looks at where humans have (and haven’t) modified Earth’s terrestrial environment. See human impact in incredible detail.

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human impact on earths surface

Mapped: Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

With human population on Earth approaching 8 billion (we’ll likely hit that milestone in 2023), our impact on the planet is becoming harder to ignore with each passing year.

Our cities, infrastructure, agriculture, and pollution are all forms of stress we place on the natural world. This map, by David M. Theobald et al., shows just how much of the planet we’ve now modified. The researchers estimate that 14.6% or 18.5 million km² of land area has been modified – an area greater than Russia.

Defining Human Impact

Human impact on the Earth’s surface can take a number of different forms, and researchers took a nuanced approach to classifying the “modifications” we’ve made. In the end, 10 main stressors were used to create this map:

  1. Built-Up Areas: All of our cities and towns
  2. Agriculture: Areas devoted to crops and pastures
  3. Energy and extractive resources: Primarily locations where oil and gas are extracted
  4. Mines and quarries: Other ground-based natural resource extraction, excluding oil and gas
  5. Power plants: Areas where energy is produced – both renewable and non-renewable
  6. Transportation and service corridors: Primarily roads and railways
  7. Logging: This measures commodity-based forest loss (excludes factors like wildfire and urbanization)
  8. Human intrusion: Typically areas adjacent to population centers and roads that humans access
  9. Natural systems modification: Primarily modifications to water flow, including reservoir creation
  10. Pollution: Phenomenon such as acid rain and fog caused by air pollution

The classification descriptions above are simplified. See the methodology for full descriptions and calculations.

A Closer Look at Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

To help better understand the level of impact humans can have on the planet, we’ll take a closer look three regions, and see how the situation on the ground relates to these maps.

Land Use Contrasts: Egypt

Almost all of Egypt’s population lives along the Nile and its delta, making it an interesting place to examine land use and human impact.

egypt land use impact zone

The towns and high intensity agricultural land following the river stand out clearly on the human modification map, while the nearby desert shows much less impact.

Intensive Modification: Netherlands

The Netherlands has some of the heavily modified landscapes on Earth, so the way it looks on this map will come as no surprise.

netherlands land use impact zone

The area shown above, Rotterdam’s distinctive port and surround area, renders almost entirely in colors at the top of the human modification scale.

Resource Extraction: West Virginia

It isn’t just cities and towns that show up clearly on this map, it’s also the areas we extract our raw materials from as well. This mountainous region of West Virginia, in the United States, offers a very clear visual example.

west virginia land use impact zone

The mountaintop removal method of mining—which involves blasting mountains in order to retrieve seams of bituminous coal—is common in this region, and mine sites show up clearly in the map.

You can explore the interactive version of this map yourself to view any area on the globe. What surprises you about these patterns of human impact?

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Politics

Interactive Map: Tracking Global Hunger and Food Insecurity

Every day, hunger affects more than 700 million people. This live map from the UN highlights where hunger is hitting hardest around the world.

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The World Hunger Map

Interactive Map: Tracking Global Hunger and Food Insecurity

Hunger is still one the biggest—and most solvable—problems in the world.

Every day, more than 700 million people (8.8% of the world’s population) go to bed on an empty stomach, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

The WFP’s HungerMap LIVE displayed here tracks core indicators of acute hunger like household food consumption, livelihoods, child nutritional status, mortality, and access to clean water in order to rank countries.

The World Hunger Map

After sitting closer to 600 million from 2014 to 2019, the number of people in the world affected by hunger increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, 155 million people (2% of the world’s population) experienced acute hunger, requiring urgent assistance.

The Fight to Feed the World

The problem of global hunger isn’t new, and attempts to solve it have making headlines for decades.

On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially opened Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans.

The event was followed by similar concerts at other arenas around the world, globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations, raising more than $125 million ($309 million in today’s dollars) in famine relief for Africa.

But 35+ years later, the continent still struggles. According to the UN, from 12 countries with the highest prevalence of insufficient food consumption in the world, nine are in Africa.

Country % Population Affected by HungerPopulation (millions)Region
Afghanistan 🇦🇫93%40.4Asia
Somalia 🇸🇴68%12.3Africa
Burkina Faso 🇧🇫61%19.8Africa
South Sudan 🇸🇸60%11.0Africa
Mali 🇲🇱60%19.1Africa
Sierra Leone 🇸🇱55%8.2Africa
Syria 🇸🇾55%18.0Middle East
Niger 🇳🇪55%22.4Africa
Lesotho 🇱🇸50%2.1Africa
Guinea 🇬🇳48%12.2Africa
Benin 🇧🇯47%11.5Africa
Yemen 🇾🇪44%30.0Middle East

Approximately 30 million people in Africa face the effects of severe food insecurity, including malnutrition, starvation, and poverty.

Wasted Leftovers

Although many of the reasons for the food crisis around the globe involve conflicts or environmental challenges, one of the big contributors is food waste.

According to the United Nations, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. This amounts to about 1.3 billion tons of wasted food per year, worth approximately $1 trillion.

All the food produced but never eaten would be sufficient to feed two billion people. That’s more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe. Consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa each year.

Solving Global Hunger

While many people may not be “hungry” in the sense that they are suffering physical discomfort, they may still be food insecure, lacking regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development.

Estimates of how much money it would take to end world hunger range from $7 billion to $265 billion per year.

But to tackle the problem, investments must be utilized in the right places. Specialists say that governments and organizations need to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk regions, increase agricultural productivity, and invest in more efficient supply chains.

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