Thoughts on the Coronavirus Pandemic

Do Humans Deserve This Beautiful Earth?
A belated Earth Day Message—Part 2
by Thea Halo

During this Coronavirus pandemic we’re reminded of the multitude of people working on the front lines around the world, risking their own lives every minute of every day to save strangers they don’t even know, and the multitude of others bringing food and services to fellow citizens. We must also acknowledge the scientists who spend their lives finding solutions for such crises, or work to find ways to improve our lives in general. Most of these scientific discoveries are now intrinsically woven into our daily lives.1 Tim Bernes Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web, for instance, has connected us in ways not even dreamed of in former times. Other scientists we will probably never hear about are working to give us a greater understanding of the world we inhabit and the greater universe in which we live.

However, one has to wonder if pandemics such as the Coronavirus are Nature’s way of telling us that as a species we have failed in our stewardship of the earth and the creatures that dwell upon it. We have failed to listen to the warnings of those scientists. We have failed to heed the repeated environmental disasters: the floods, the mudslides, the wildfires, the tornadoes, the hurricanes. So now perhaps we’ll listen to the sound of hundreds of thousands of coffins being slammed shut around the world.

Even then, the sound of that warning may only be temporary, just as the observance of all other warnings were temporary, or even ignored. As in the past, everything will go back to the old normal soon after this particular crises passes. After all, even as thousands and perhaps millions around the world died from air pollution, and the weather became more erratic made worse by human activities, we went back to the devastating normal that created those crises. In fact, in the midst of this deadly virus, we read: “White House poised to weaken coal plant mercury rule. The Trump administration is expected to withdraw justification underpinning Obama-era environmental regulation…”2 The Trump administration even decided to weaken the auto emissions standards,3 and withdrew the United States from the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, and the nuclear agreement with Iran. As late as April 02, 2020, in the midst of this deadly Coronavirus, Trump was still attempting to erase the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obama Care.4 It’s as if Trump thinks his penis will fall off if he doesn’t reverse all of Obama‘s initiatives.

How often must we read that certain species are going extinct because of the destruction to their habitat, because of poaching, or because some fool wants to hunt our most beautiful wild animals: lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinos, and elephants for sport. Think of that. For sport!!! We are wiping out some of the most beautiful creatures on earth for sport. Pangolins are being killed by the ton for their meat and scales, as are elephants and rhinos for their tusks. And people are eating bats. Can anyone claim that bats and pangolins were ever meant to be eaten by humans? Perhaps in the stone age or in desperately poor nations where the food source amounts to whatever one is able to find and kill, like eating rats and cats during world wars, and during periodic mass starvation as in China before the 1980s. However, for those nations that are responsible for most of the slaughters, i.e. those nations that create a market for these animals, such as China, that necessity no longer exists. Apparently, for some, old habits developed during times of famine or wars do not die easily. Consequently, there are too many who fail to realize or care, that each of those species has a purpose on this earth, such as helping to keep nature in balance. Or perhaps, they simply don’t care. Greed and immediate gratification takes precedence over conservation and the health of our planet. For the poorer nations where poachers rely on any means to support themselves and their families, we should ask why they are so desperate in a world where some have billions of dollars, while others don’t have clean water to drink?

“A study published … in the journal Cell found that antibodies in llamas’ blood could offer a defense against the coronavirus.”5 In other words, the animals we kill off may have been the saviors of the human species. Nature always provides unless we choose to annihilate her creations.

If these pandemics only killed off those who are responsible for the devastation, at least we could believe there was justice in nature. However, that we are all at risk, and sometimes suffer the consequences of these deplorable crimes, perhaps Nature no longer gives a damn who is at fault. Perhaps Nature behaves—and perhaps rightly so—as if we are all at fault, because let’s face it, we all continue in our old ways out of convenience or because we haven’t figured out how to effectively stop using non-recyclable plastic containers, for instance… how to demand pesticides are no longer used on our produce and land… how to stop companies from polluting our air and waters… how to stop nations from killing off some of these precious animals… and how to stop the wars and the insane targeting of minorities in various societies.

If this pandemic can destroy businesses in such a short span of time, perhaps we can go on strike against the large corporations, banks, and nations that refuse to abide by conservation and environmental standards, and the standards of decency, to give them an economic pandemic they won’t forget.

This Coronavirus pandemic may be Nature’s WWIII. Global carbon monoxide emissions were down by at least 17% during this pandemic, so perhaps Nature has won, if only temporarily.6

That should give us a hint as to where to go from here if we want to avoid an even greater pandemic in future. Our first step should be to vote for those politicians who educate themselves and who listen to and fund our scientists. The Coronavirus pandemic has proven that we are all connected around the world—that we are one people, regardless of race, religion, national origins, or economic status. We are all subject to Nature’s rules and, in the end, Nature will have her way with us.

  1. https://www.history.com/news/11-innovations-that-changed-history. Also see: https://bestreviewof.com/top-10-scientific-discoveries-that-changed-the-way-we-live-our-lives/
  2. Brian Snyder/Reuters, Aljazeera, April 16, 2020. https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/white-house-poised-weaken-coal-plant-mercury-rule-sources-200416153114099.html
  3. Nathan Rott and Jennifer Ludden, Trump Administration Weakens Auto Emissions Standards, NPR March 31, 2020 https://www.npr.org/2020/03/31/824431240/trump-administration-weakens-auto-emissions-rolling-back-key-climate-policy
  4. Nan Aron, Trump Wages War on the Affordable Care Act in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Ms Magazine, April 2, 2020. https://msmagazine.com/2020/04/02/trump-administration-wages-war-on-the-affordable-care-act-in-the-midst-of-the-covid-19-pandemic/
  5. Matthew Cantor ‘Llamas are the real unicorns’: why they could be our secret weapon against coronavirus, The Guardian, May 17, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/16/llama-coronavirus-antibodies-study-benefits,
  6. Doyle Rice, USA Today, Coronavirus lockdowns have caused a whopping 17% drop in global carbon emissions. May 19, 2020.

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