Renowned environmentalist Dr Jane Goodall believes the coronavirus has brought the world to a crossroads and warns that if the correct paths are not chosen, the consequences will be dire for humanity.
Simply put, she believes that we cannot go on with the destruction of the environment and that the COVID-19 pandemic could be just a small taste of a new normality if we continue to ignore the warning signs.
And foremost to change must be a different approach to our food systems.
“If we do not do things differently, we are finished,” she said. “We can’t go on very much longer like this.”
Dr Goodall was voicing her opinion earlier this week during an online seminar held by the Compassion in World Farming group.
Also present were Stella Kyriakides, the EU’s commissioner for health and food safety, and Janusz Wojciechowski, commissioner for agriculture.
It’s widely believed that the coronavirus was initiated by contact between a person and an animal from a market in Wuhan, China.
"As we face the #COVID19 pandemic, every level our societal systems and structures are being tested. It has never been more apparent that we need to embrace a more holistic view of health – one that includes the environment. " https://t.co/cmk5UFjS97 @PathfinderInt #LCWT pic.twitter.com/9y99VhQoyO
— JaneGoodallInstitute (@JaneGoodallInst) May 28, 2020
Dr Goodall feels that the exploitation of wild animals at these ‘wet’ markets will continue to result in more viruses being passed between animals and humans.
It’s not the markets which are the only problem, but also the ‘shrinking’ of the natural world. As natural habitats are increasingly destroyed, more people are fighting over fewer resources. This means that animals which had previously managed to stay away from people are coming into closer contact – increasing the chances of viruses jumping between species.
Commercial, or factory farming, is another major problem. Cramped, unhygienic conditions and cruel practices aside, the growth-promoting hormones and antibiotics which animals are fed have been linked with a rise in antibiotic resistant superbugs.
‘We’ve brought this on ourselves’
“We have brought this on ourselves because of our absolute disrespect for animals and the environment,” Dr Goodall said. “Our disrespect for wild animals and our disrespect for farmed animals has created this situation where disease can spill over to infect human beings.”
The veteran conservationist also voiced her concern over the damage done to nature by wars, as well as humans’ overpowering thirst for consumerism.
“We have come to a turning point in our relationship with the natural world,” she cautioned.
“One of the lessons learnt from this crisis is that we must change our ways. Scientists warn that to avoid future crises, we must drastically change our diets and move to plant-rich foods.
“For the sake of the animals, planet and the health of our children.”
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Image credit: UNclimatechange