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Consider this sentence, please:

Along with Covid-19 pandemic and cyclone Amphan, here's how locust swarms can devastate India's food grain reserves.

I know "could" would be more appropriate in place of "can" in the above sentence. But does "can"(in the sense of "will be able to", because the second part of the sentence is a hypothesis) sound completely awkward in the above sentence?

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If it is followed by a video of locusts devastating India's food grain reserves, "can" would be more appropriate than "could". If the video related to a different country "could" would be better than "can". In this context "can" and "could" both refer to possibilities for the future, but "can" is more immediate, and needs stronger evidence.

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  • "In this context "can" and "could" both refer to possibilities for the future, but "can" is more immediate, and needs stronger evidence." In which context?Is it in your second context: " If the video related to a different country "could" would be better"? – Mr. X Jun 13 at 5:50
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    The context is forecasting disasters for India. If the video was taken in India it would be strong evidence that a locust plague could happen again. If it was taken in another country it would be weaker evidence, as the differences between that country and India might make the video less relevant. – Peter Jun 13 at 6:55

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