In her recent article published in Health Journal, Ellen Moyer claims that not only was COVID-19 created by humans but it’s also nature’s payback for neglecting our health and the environment. Our behaviour promotes infectious viruses and destroys our defenses against them. “The law of karma throws pandemics right back at us,” writes Moyer.
Human activities produce pandemics
Biodiversity—healthy ecosystems—acts as a buffer between nature and humans by restraining pathogens before they ever leave the wild. “But biodiversity declines when we wipe out plants and animals through destructive logging, industrial agriculture, and other activities, [deforestation, resource extraction],” writes Moyer.
Animal diseases which are transmittable to humans have quadrupled in the last 50 years. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) some 60 percent of infectious diseases affecting people “can be transmitted from nonhuman animals.” And most—75 percent—of them originate in wildlife.
“We cram animals into “factory farms,” relying on antibiotics to keep them alive,” resulting in new antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and fungi which spread easily under such conditions. In a 2019 report, the CDC advises to ““Stop referring to a coming post-antibiotic era — it’s already here.”
Humans are perfect hosts for COVID-19
One reason COVID-19 disproportionately kills older people is because many of them have a longer history of poor lifestyles and chronic disease. — Ellen Moyer
Not only is our industrial food system destructive for the environment, it makes us more vulnerable to a broad spectrum of diseases by weakening our natural ability to fight off infectious diseases.
Moyer points out that we have let our health go—60% of U.S. adults have one chronic disease, and 40 percent have two or more.
Moyer writes that “A recent study by the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research of thousands of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the New York City area found that nearly all of them had at least one major chronic health condition, and most (88 percent) had at least two. Only 6 percent of them had no underlying health conditions.”
Building Back Better
This pandemic is a preview of what will come down the road unless we begin facing reality—the facts do not lie. Many governments around the world are finding the means and the courage to take decisive action to fight COVID-19 by putting people and public safety first. However this is not true of the U.S. where President Trump is putting people and safety last at the federal level, and many states are following suit.
A recent opinion piece in The Guardian says that the coronavirus is a warning to mend our broken relationship with nature. There have been many threatening viruses over the last decades—Ebola, SARS, AIDS, H1N1, Zika— but COVID-19 is causing a level of social, health and economic turmoil on a scale previously unseen.
And yet COVID-19 is merely a window into other even more catastrophic environmental problems, such as the climate crisis. COVID-19 and other corona viruses come and go but climate will “continue to worsen as long as we stay on our current trajectory,” writes Moyer.
We must not waste this current crisis. We must learn from it. And we must act accordingly. We can never return to normal. Normal is cancelled.
(Please read Ellen Moyer’s full article here.)
Ellen Moyer is a registered professional engineer with a PhD in environmental engineering and author of the award-winning book, Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves: How to Thrive While Creating a Sustainable World.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.