Plug in too many appliances in your home, and you'll trip a circuit. Consume too many natural resources, and you'll blow Earth's fuse. That's the lesson of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


April 22 will be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. At this moment in history, the coronavirus has exposed two scientific facts that must be an Earth Day focus.


First, the coronavirus demonstrates that we can no longer abuse the Earth without devastating consequences.


Consider COVID-19's origins. In remote areas of China, people are capturing wild animals alive and shipping them to crowded cities, where they're sold for food and traditional medicine.


These so-called "wet markets" allow the intermixing of wild animals that would never normally meet in nature. And that allows exotic and deadly diseases to spread between species ― and to the people who consume them.


Public health experts have warned about the risks of wet markets for years, ever since the SARS outbreak that ravaged Asia in 2003 was traced to one of these unnatural, unsanitary locations. Unfortunately, those warnings were ignored.


Second, it'd be a mistake to cast blame for the coronavirus entirely on wet markets, which are merely a predictable consequence of humanity's rampant resource consumption and growing population density. At nearly 7.8 billion people and increasing by 222,000 per day, the world's human population is crowding into and destroying wild areas at an unprecedented rate.


What's true in China and Southeast Asia is true across our planet. Humanity's voracious appetite for food and resources destroys wildlife populations and the habitats they call home, to the point that there is very little wildness left.


It's not just a China problem. In fact, on a per-capita basis, Americans are far more voracious consumers of natural resources than people in other developed countries. We consume more energy, more mined metals and other materials, and more consumer goods than anybody else. We also emit more pollution.


America's population, just like the world's, is growing rapidly. We add nearly 2 million people per year, effectively adding a new Los Angeles County every five years. We've added 131 million voracious consumers to our population since 1965.


And we'll add another 100 million by 2065 ― almost solely from immigration ― unless something changes.


If we continue on our current unsustainable path ― effectively turning the planet's extraordinary beauty and wilderness into a feedlot for humanity ― we'll likely continue to suffer from ever-more-frequent pandemics in the future.


This Earth Day, let's commit to preserving our environment by stabilizing the population. By doing so, we might help prevent needless future suffering and begin the difficult work of making our planet habitable for generations to come.


Gary Wockner, PhD, is an environmental activist specializing in water protection, climate change and human population stabilization. You can find him on Twitter at: @GaryWockner