We are witnessing the worst pandemic of the last hundred years right now. But it did not happen by sheer coincidence. While the virus was certainly not engineered in a laboratory, this doesn't mean we haven't played a role in the current pandemic. COVID-19 is the latest example of how human impingement on natural habitats, biodiversity loss, wildlife habitats, and ecosystem degradation linked to the spread of infectious diseases.
As people move further into the territories of wild animals to clear forests, cut the trees, raise livestock, kill the animals or cage them and send them to markets, we are increasingly exposed to the pathogens that normally never leave these places and the bodies they inhabit. When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it. So, by disrupting ecosystems, our behavior and disrespect for nature created the conditions that allow animal viruses to cross over into human populations, which means the only person at fault here is us.
The situation in the future will only get worse if we continue like this. We need green and healthy recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic! We must value nature as the basis of a healthy society instead of persistently trying to save and make money by destroying the environment.
Going forward, we could, however, be more sensible and careful than we are, and we should remember that wildlife is not a threat to us. This is the moment to rise and find a better way to live together safely! Prosperity for people and the planet is possible only if we make bold decisions today, so that future generations can survive and thrive. And the solution is straightforward. If you restore the land, the forests, and the oceans, then you’ll restore the natural processes!
Everything is linked together - the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how much we depend on one another – one humanity living on one planet - therefore, we should embrace the "One Health" concept - the idea that the health of animals, the ecosystem, and humans are all interlinked, and when one is out of balance, others follow suit. The lesson for humanity is not to be afraid of nature which sustains us and from whence we originated, but rather to restore it, embrace it and understand how to live with and benefit from it. We can start by curbing habitat and especially tropical forest destruction and controlling (ideally to the point of elimination), curbing the loss of species - by addressing threats, curbing wildlife trafficking and closing markets and outlets - and halving our ecological footprint, and of course, fighting climate change by transitioning to clean energy.
We are hoping that the experience of the coronavirus crisis will teach us all a lesson that, yes, this was uncomfortable, but we can cope and that we as a society can get through these things if we make some changes, and we will hopefully be aware how nature conservation in every corner of the world keeps everyone safe – from diseases, extreme weather, and war.
Most importantly, take care of yourself, stay safe, and hold your loved ones close.