I hate to say it, but I’ve been expecting something like Coronavirus for decades (well actually, if I’m honest, I’ve been expecting something much worse). Even if this particular virus was an accident, deadly viruses have been on the rise for some decades and virologists and environmental scientists agree (including the U.N.’s environment chief) that this virus is a direct result of us putting too many pressures on the natural world.
It’s already well known that there are far more deadly diseases out there that have spread from wild animals to humans (which may indicate that we’ve actually been a bit “lucky” to have, at least for the time being, dodged something as lethal as the Nipah virus, for example, which kills 60-75% of those who contract it).
Viruses are then spread around the world by the ease and increase in global air travel. The scientists are saying that “Nature is sending us a clear warning shot” and yet this message isn’t coming across on TV as usual, which is a great shame.
Even so, are we actually going to ignore this message and go back to “normal” after it’s over or, are we going to think about the lessons to learn from this and change behaviour? One thing I do know for sure is that you can’t mess with Nature, it’s way too powerful . . .
There is, however, a possible silver lining here and I’m hoping that people find this out for themselves during the lockdown:
- We’ve basically been forced to live a much simpler life. To be comfortable with accepting less;
- We’ve learned who are most important to us and in some cases, what it’s like to be separated;
- We’ve learned what’s really important: food, water, shelter and our health;
- We’ve learned that some people think only of themselves whilst many others put themselves at risk to help others;
- We’ve become more closely knit communities, all of which is so important and what communities should look like;
- We’ve learned (or are learning!) to like our own company and to try new things;
- We’ve learned how wildlife and nature can return within a really short space of time and how wonderful it is to only have birdsong overhead in the sky . . .
. . . and we’ve learned that we can adapt really quickly to an immediate threat. It makes me wonder what we could achieve if everyone (including governments) showed the same sense of community and urgency about saving our planet – because it really IS that urgent.
If nothing else, this virus has demonstrated in no uncertain terms that we’re not separate from the real world: that’s the natural world – we’re a part of it. We breathe its air, we drink its water, we eat the food it provides and, as the panic-buyers have also demonstrated to us, people are afraid of not meeting their basic needs!
We are intelligent animals, pure and simple, and so when we come out of Lockdown, what changes are you going to make? Are you going to hop on the first transatlantic flight to an exotic beach on a far-off island somewhere (probably in the category of one of the most at risk places on the planet to climate change) or are you going to have a bit of a re-think and change how and what you do? Are you going to take some of the things you’ve started doing in the lockdown and incorporate them into your “new normal” life. I hope it’s the latter, for all our sakes.