7 expert perspectives on what COVID-19 means for the planet

At the height of the first wave, many people took heart from the drop in air pollution resulting from global lockdowns.

DENIS LOVROVIC/AFP via Getty Images

Experts agree that the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic will be with us for years, even after the immediate threat has passed.

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New data reveals Earth closer to a black hole and is moving 16,000 mph faster

A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.

Credit: NAOJ
  • A Japanese radio astronomy project revealed Earth is 2,000 light years closer to the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way's center.
  • The data also showed the planet is moving 7 km/s or 16,000 mph faster in orbit around the Galactic Center.
  • The findings don't mean Earth is in more danger from the black hole but reflect better modeling of the galaxy.
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    Housebound? This map lets you travel through time

    Interactive globe shows where your hometown was at various stages of Earth's deep geological past.

    Image: Ancient Earth Globe, reproduced with kind permission.
    • If you love travelling, a pandemic like this is not the greatest of times.
    • But here's a way to go somewhere else without even leaving the house.
    • This interactive tool lets you travel up to 750 million years back in time.
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    6 billion planets like Earth? Scientists make stunning estimate

    Astronomers propose new estimate of Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy.

    Credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/W. Stenzel/D. Rutter
    • Astronomers make new analysis based on data from NASA's Kepler space telescope.
    • The researchers estimate there may be as many as six billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone.
    • The scientists looked for planets that would be able to host life.
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    #3: Earth at 2° hotter will be horrific. Now here’s what 4° will look like. | Top 10 2019

    Third on the Big Think 2019 countdown reveals this is what the world will be like if we do not act on climate change.

    • The third most popular video of 2019 presents a frightening truth: The best-case scenario of climate change is that world gets just 2°C hotter, which scientists call the "threshold of catastrophe".
    • Why is that the good news? Because if humans don't change course now, the planet is on a trajectory to reach 4°C at the end of this century, which would bring $600 trillion in global climate damages, double the warfare, and a refugee crisis 100x worse than the Syrian exodus.
    • David Wallace-Wells explains what would happen at an 8°C and even 13°C increase. These predictions are horrifying, but should not scare us into complacency. "It should make us focus on them more intently," he says.
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