In 2009, a disease swept across the globe and infected millions, and before it was officially named 2009 H1N1 Flu, it was popularly dubbed "swine flu."
Panicking countries banned sales of pigs and pig products, turning the pork industry on its snout and Egypt even went so far as to slaughter all 300,000 of the country's pigs to stop the virus in its tracks.
While the virus likely evolved from one that did infect pigs, the 2009 version was almost exclusively transmitted person-to-person rather than porcine to person.
Regardless, the name alone triggered a pig-induced pandemonium.
But pigs aren't in any way the only victims of a poorly-named disease—historically, we've also named viruses after groups of people or places where people live, which can direct all that disease-associated fear and stigma onto people.
And not only is that incredibly dangerous for those people, but prejudice doesn't actually prevent the spread of disease.
To help protect people, places, and... well, pigs from such stigma, in 2015 the World Health Organization penned guidelines for naming new infectious diseases soon after they're discovered.
No people, places, animals, foods, or occupations.
And avoid fearmongering with terms like "unknown" or "fatal."
Instead, use descriptive qualities of the disease itself, like its symptoms, severity or seasonality, and, if known, the actual bug behind the disease, oh, and definitely keep the name easily pronounceable.
Which is how our latest pandemic was named Coronavirus Disease 2019, abbreviated COVID-19, for the crown-shaped coronavirus that causes the disease that emerged in 2019.
Of course, some people will still be racist or misinformed and turn their fear on the nearest scapegoat, but at least we're trying to head off the spread of stigma by providing standardized names before the harmful ones can go viral.
These days, the world needs all the generosity it can get, and one really easy and free way to donate to a worthy cause is Tab for a Cause, which donates money to a charity each time you open a new browser tab.
I've been using Tab for a Cause for at least six years and, according to my Tab for a Cause stats page, I've opened over... holy tab-moly, 37,000 tabs in that time, which I've turned into real donations to my favorite charities, including their current COVID-19 response fund.
If you, like me, open up way too many tabs, you can feel good about it by going to tabforacause.org/MinuteEarth2 and downloading the extension now.
And there's one more way you can help the world from the comfort of your couch: stay there, at least for now.
We're putting this video out in the midst of a pandemic and, according the World Health Organization, the best way to make sure you don't become a carrier of the virus or infect vulnerable people like, say, your grandparents, is to stay home or, if you absolutely have to go out, stay far away from other people.
Let's help each other out in the comments by suggesting some awesome things to do while you're housebound—other than watching MinuteEarth, of course.
And for a much-needed moment of distraction, here's our latest caption contest winner. [The world is getting... hot.]
The next image is ready for awesome caption suggestions from all levels of patrons at patreon.com/MinuteEarth.