A World at War with Itself
Today, we celebrate World Environment Day. Usually, it is a day on which we recognise the tremendous efforts that have been made to reduce and manage mankind's impacts on our environment. We share stories about the gains that we have made as a species and console ourselves with the knowledge that we missed total extinction once again.
But this year, World Environment Day takes place on a planet that seems almost at war with itself. Our focus has been diverted by COVID-19 and the global deaths that have been experienced from this virus, while we overlook the fact that we are still not listening to the science and we continue to rush headlong towards an abyss as we deal with one thing at a time. While we have been distracted by the virus, a lot has been happening.!
The United States - once a beacon of hope and a leader in the fight against climate change, has abdicated its role in favour of its own self-preservation - politically speaking. In Africa, only one Pangolin species has survived the utter devastation brought-on by an insatiable demand for these animals from the Far East and across the world, plastic waste is reaching levels not even dreamed of a few years back. The Brazilian rain forests continue to be devastated by the need for unsustainable farmland; over-fishing seems to have been forgotten by massive Chinese fleets and hunger and drought continue to impact the poorest countries.
We have also witnessed the speed at which the earth can recover from man's activities as pollution levels dropped during the global shutdown; air travel declined to almost unheard-of levels and cars were no longer clogging the highways of our countries. The Himalayas were once again visible from over one hundred kilometres and the canals of Venice ran clean for the first time in a generation. We started understanding what environmentalists around the world have been trying to say for the past twenty years - that we are the answer to all of our environmental fears.
There is no doubt that the virus has dominated the news cycle for the past nine months and that mankind has been a little distracted. But we are missing the link between COVID and our environment and the point that this may be just another in a long line of warnings that the earth is sending. That the virus jumped between animals and man is now generally accepted and this should be a warning, but no sooner than the virus is brought under control, we fall-back on past practices - ignoring the signs.
We are one interlinked environment, and what mankind does has long-term and often, unpredictable consequences. Unless we begin to respect our environment and take care today - understanding and accepting the science, Covid could be the least of our collective problem. The next virus could eclipse Covid by multiples of ten and once again, it will be climate or environment linked. We don't have the time to change - we must do it now. Because, waiting any longer - or ignoring what we can clearly see happening, could mean the death of so much of what we take for granted.
And then it will be too late..
Happy World Environment Day