Equality, Climate, and COVID-19 Are All Related

Exploitation Affects Us.

The Coronavirus outbreak came to us, part, courtesy of wildlife trafficking. There are other reasons, too, having to do with our inequality and climate justice inaction.

Climate crisis and extinction are key issues today. Without necessary biodiversity, our species will suffer, even if it remains unlikely that we would go extinct.

Those who sell wild animals, in whole or part, are a symptom, not a scapegoat. They answer to global demand — based on no science and lots of superstition — that requires relentless destruction of both habitat and inhabitants of the wild.

Bats, pangolins, palm civets, and even the more well-known tigers, elephants, rhinos, and bears are sold worldwide because those who can afford them buy them for enhancement, and status. They are also “farmed” in many instances, usually in tortuous conditions.

Cruelty is nothing new in animal products. In the west, of course, factory farming and hidden costs drive the loss of grasslands, deforestation, pollution, and, of course, health issues for human beings.

All of Us, Great and Small

Yet, what has equality got to do with it? It is well known that colonized countries suffer poor economy, pollution, and degradation when a natural “resource”, is found there. Examples such as oil in Canada, logging in the Amazon, or oil spills in the Niger Delta, come to mind.

It is also well-researched that poorer populations are driven by desperation. They are not given the same access to health, especially reproductive health, as people in developed nations. Not only is there wealth, class, and political inequality, there is also gender inequality.

Human Animals

When men and women are equal, fewer demands for “male power” enhancement products, aphrodisiacs, and the like are made. More research is needed for this, but I am doubtful that it is primarily women who demand these products for male potency.

In fact, a better power enhancement for women would be simple representation.

The climate crisis is here.

The most striking element about the current COVID-19 pandemic is how it affects every aspect of our lives. It is easy to argue that climate crisis, such as fires in Australia last year, or floods and heatwaves, famine, and more, also affect everyone, but not nearly so clearly.

All of the consequences of our trashing of Earth eventually impact everyone, but not so dramatically, and immediately. Being able to turn a blind eye has made many of us players in inevitable catastrophe.

Can Earth shake off her virus?

Some people see humanity, and our destruction, as a virus upon a febrile Earth. Maybe. But the truth is we are the first species in all known history to have a choice and make a difference. It is up to us to choose what that difference is going forward.

Some have wondered if our social distancing and tanked markets will offer a slight break to Earth and her ecosystems. This remains to be seen, but what we learn will surely be useful.

Will there be a major economic depression? Similar to the WWII, Post War Baby Boom, will there be a socially distanced, “closed-door” baby boom? Will isolationism drive nationalism, or cooperation across borders? Will equality, and representation, be put on the back burner? Will our social capacity to care be more effective than our scapegoating, racism, sexism, and hoarding tendencies? Will we take valuable lessons about climate, equality, and pandemics to heart?

It’s up to us. It is a good time to encourage everyone not only to tread more lightly but to believe in science.

This is a good wake up call, for all of those who thought taking action to preserve the quality of life had an unrealistic price tag attached. There is no price greater than what may still lay ahead of us in an ongoing climate crisis and heated planet. Pandemics have long been part of the equation when research has looked at our agriculture, our pollution, our addiction to fossil fuels, our unwillingness to consider the exploited (both human and other living beings) and our tacit justification of industry before the planet.

Although clearly, some lives are more valued than others, it is an opportunity to assess that situation through the lens of more knowledge and hard-learned lessons.

Previously published on Greener Together on Medium.com.

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