Will outbreaks like Covid-19 be the new hurricanes, and/or add to them and add to the threats to us humans? True, we are the dominant species but we have been tampering with nature and altering biodiversity for too long, say a number of experts such as primatologist Jane Goodall, who said she hoped that a global movement of people calling for clean air will result from the global coronavirus outbreak, which has emptied cities of traffic. She says “hopefuly we should emerge wiser (after the coronavirus ends).”
Research by epidemiologist Christine K. Johnson from the Epicenter for Disease Dynamics, University of California, Why do viruses jump from animals to humans? Clues to the COVID-19 pandemic shows we have a lot to worry about.
Indeed, it would seem that environmental degradation, receding biodiversity -large chunks of the Great Barrier Reef are dying as we speak- and pandemics would seems to go hand in hand.
In an interview with the Economist, How society can overcome covid-19, Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist who incidentally had also acted as a consultant as far back as 2011 on the screenplay of the film “Contagion”, says that sadly “for years” (….) he, along with “30 to 50 or all the infectious-disease epidemiologists” had “warned about the possibility of a new global pandemic”. He also touches on the possibility that societies have not taken Covid-19 seriously enough, some countries like the UK having begun “on a misguided mission to allow or think that they could allow everybody or a large number of people to become infected, in an effort to reach the epidemiologist’s Holy Grail of “herd immunity”, others like the USA allowing beach parties, while France allows people to go out in a one-kilometre radius around their homes every day.
However, in his opinion, countries can test, quarantine and prepare for the post-coronavirus world, says Larry Brilliant. So why are they not really getting their act together for the sake of their citizens? When the whole covid-19 affair has subsided a little, a myriad of accountability questions will need to be addressed.
Then another issue that comes to the fore is that millenials and our children born one and two decades ago, have suffered or known of two crises already, if one counts the climate emergency crisis and this pandemic. The new generations will need an extremely proactive approach to withstand the turmoils ahead. And we their parents, should help those born in the 2000s take on the right skillset and an “always on the ball” sort of frame of mind.
Worse even, southern Europe’s millenials have suffered three huge crises now they are in their mid-30s, with the dire consequences of the 2007-2008 financial crisis adding to the other two big issues, because the impact has been felt a lot more in the south than in the north of Europe. According to The Economist’s Southern Europe’s millennials suffer two huge crises by their mid-30s Will their pain turn them radical?, apathic, escapist or radicalist behaviour could emerge out of this trend. The rationale is that coming of age in a crisis has “long-term political consequences”. Also “People’s values tend to crystallise in their mid-20s.” And millennials in southern Europe “have found themselves unceremoniously shoved down the order of priorities. In such circumstances, the economic basics trump more complex issues when it comes to politics; those in northern Europe can still afford to care about other topics.” As evidence, when the number of Green MEPs has nearly doubled in the north, Spain, Italy and Greece boast only one, while they make up a quarter of the EU’s population. Apathy may set in as well, with 80% of the young feeling depressed.
“All generations suffer during a crisis. But the consequences last longer for the young. Economic misery has a tendency to compound.” If radicalism takes a hold on them, this is because “many voters will feel that the social contract has been so badly breached that they would rather rip it up altogether” with a comeback of a left-right split on economics to help the established parties rather unlikely.
J. Goodall says that “We need a different way of thinking about things. We need to realize that unlimited economic development on a world with finite natural resources and growing human populations can’t work,”. We need to realise that we all have a part to play and that if we all try and do a little on our own scale, this only can help the tide turn. So let’s come to our senses and see that it still makes sense to think that “every little helps”, like every gesture of ‘viral’ gratitude and kindness, e.g. the standing ovations all across the world.
Outbreaks could become the new normal unless man changes, adapts and becomes more humble towards nature. And unless we do this now.