The coronavirus has created an unprecedented global health epidemic that is impacting billions of people and will most likely cost the economy trillions of dollars (as predicted by the UN). However, we must not forget the other pressing issue that revolves around the same problem: the exploitation of animals, which is not only the cause of the coronavirus and other health issues, but is also a leading cause of climate change and deforestation.
If this is not a wakeup call for what we consume, and for us to change, then I don’t know what is?
I do not need to tell you the negative impact coronavirus has had all over the world, because I am sure you know. Instead here’s some information about the some of many things we can be hopeful for – positive things are happening too:
With fewer cars driving, planes flying and factories running, air pollution has dropped approximately 25% in China due to coronavirus: this is an unprecedented drop during recent history (Link).
In the UK, people have a new appreciation for the NHS (National Health Service) and healthcare, with millions of Britons applauding the important work of carers. (Link)
As of the 27th of March 2020, 3293 people have died from coronavirus in China (Link) but approximately 77,000 lives have been saved from the consequential reduction of pollution (Link).
2015 Paris Climate Accord: “The coronavirus is driving us towards the emission reduction targeted by international climate agreements such as the Paris Agreement. So, the outbreak has forced us to reduce emissions that we cannot meet [with the targets] normally,” Huseyin Toros, an expert in atmospheric science and air quality at Istanbul Technical University, stressed. (Link). Currently, more than 10 times more people still die from climate change than corona: 250,000 people die from climate change annually. (Link) It is essential that we do not put all of our efforts into coronavirus and ignore the elephant in the room (climate change).
This year, COP26 will is scheduled to be held in Glasgow (The UN Climate Change Conference) and I really hope our focus on coronavirus doesn’t distract us from the importance of the climate crises, especially as billions of peoples’ livelihoods will be impacted over the coming years. (Link)
By self-isolating, some people are exploring new interests, spending more time with family and focusing on wellbeing and health.
A new sense of appreciation for nature and freedom; I hope once we are able to go out and explore again, we will see our earth in a new light. Sometimes we have to lose things, to appreciate them again. I wrote a short poem about this:
As we stay inside and think about the freedom that we once took for granted; simple seeing friends, eating at a restaurant or going for a walk. The birds are still singing, the skies turn blue and pollution clears, the planes are grounded, the boats ashore and roads are empty. Reducing our impact on the environment.
In Japan, deer are roaming city streets,
In Venice, the canal water is clear,
In Thailand, the monkeys are fighting.
In China, air pollution has been cut 25%.
The lesson within this struggle: we are not invincible, and if we do take a step back, we can make sustainable change. When we open our doors and go back outside, we will look around at this diverse world, and I hope we can see it in a different light.
The situation is uncertain and as governments and countries aim to control the virus, we need to realise that if we don’t change our ways, this is just the beginning. One thing we know for sure is that coronavirus was transmitted from animals in China, and 75% of new viruses come from other animals. (Link) The exploitation of non-human animals is a leading cause of climate change, health issues and the death of trillions of animals.
If we continue business as usual once this epidemic is over, it will be a great shame, since this is an opportunity to focus. From how we have come together and dealt with these crises, it is apparent that we deeply care about our and others’ wellbeing (except when tissue roll is involved!).
Could this be our last opportunity to choose a sustainable alternative path for humanity and the other animals we share this incredible earth with?