COVID-19 provides rare opportunities for studying natural and human systems

Like the legendary falling apple that hit Isaac Newton and led to his groundbreaking insight on the nature of gravity, COVID-19 could provide unintended glimpses into how complex Earth systems operate, according to a new Stanford-led paper. The perspective, published July 29 in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, hypothesizes outcomes of unprecedented changes in human activity wrought by worldwide sheltering orders, and outlines research priorities for understanding their short and long-term implications. Getting it right could revolutionize how we think about issues as broad as greenhouse gas emissions, regional air quality, and the global economy’s connection to poverty, food security and deforestation, according to the researchers. It could also help ensure an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic while helping prevent future crises.

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