The novel coronavirus pandemic represents nature taking revenge on a rampant humanity.
This kind of thinking represented in this magnificent short story by Dr Ritu Verma, who is a BAMS final year student, is seems very logical and scientific. As these kind of views are shared by an ever-growing number of scientists across the globe since many years.
In 2006 James Lovelock published his book The Revenge of Gaia. His central thesis is that Gaia, the interactive, living planet, could be punishing a fossil-fuel addicted, climate changing humanity by making the earth uninhabitable for people. Lovelock implied that we may soon force Gaia into red-hot mode, and that she could ultimately shake us off. His book helped to amplify concern about a looming global climate emergency which has been featured in the news ever since.
In early March ex-Guardian environment editor John Vidal published an article, Is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19, in which he says: “A number of researchers today think that it is actually humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases … to arise – with profound health and economic impacts in rich and poor countries alike.
“In fact, a new discipline, planetary health, is emerging that focuses on the increasingly visible connections between the wellbeing of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems.”
Prof. Kate Jones at University College London, concurs. She calls emerging infectious diseases resulting from animal-human interactions an “increasing and very significant threat to global health, security and economies”.
This view is also the focus of the work of an organisation called the Global Eco-Health Alliance with dozens of international academic partners, which documents the fragile linkages between human health and ecosystem health.
So, could nature actually be taking revenge on us by unleashing new diseases? Well, in the last few decades we have certainly been faced with a succession of virulent viruses that have jumped from other living organisms into the human realm – Sars, Bird Flu, Ebola, Mers – and we have had narrow escapes each time, by activating hi-tech medical research and particularly by advances in vaccine technology.
But as commercial activity penetrates ever deeper into the world’s wildernesses, we will likely encounter more and more unexpected biological forces we may not be able to control.
These views are shared by an ever-growing number of scientists. But where does this take us as regards our behaviour patterns? The warning bells have been ringing for decades, as news about deforestation in the tropics, the bleaching of coral reefs and the impacts of pollution became public knowledge. The term ‘Planetary Emergency’, initiated by the Club of Rome, has been gaining currency in recent months.
There is little doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic will be a trigger to force our civilisation to change some of its fundamental attitudes. And as our health systems are overwhelmed by the new virus, we are forced to ask whether our current lifestyles can continue unchanged.
So to save the humanity let’s take a pledge to stop killing wild animals, and stop destroying nature to stop future pendamics.