Our COVID-19 Response Is Intervention, Not Prevention

An on-coming train post COVID roars into view — and a great Neil Young video to give you hope

Photo by Toan Nguyen on Unsplash

COVID-19 itself exposed much of our weakness, if not its own causes.

Inequality, poor health care options in those nations without health coverage, inadequate wages tied to essential jobs, and over compensation to billionaires, non-priority of infrastructure, race and gender inequality, and many peoples’ pull to populism that almost undid democracy are some contributing factors that we ignore at our own peril.

But there is a much larger problem, the way in which we interact with the whole world. Our extraction of resources (bats being just one tiny example), causes some of them, and our waste stream afterward, causes the rest.

One year plus of COVID has been challenging to say the least. At the risk of being clobbered, however, I would like to submit the light at the end of the tunnel is another on-coming train.

It’s not a new train, it’s just the train we temporarily derailed from to address the pandemic.

We were already heading directly into the roaring engines of both climate crisis and biodiversity loss. Just for today I am going to call this CLOT-O-CLOB for Climate Loss On Top OF Commons Loss of Biodiversity.

The Commons is the old-timey term for those common areas of a town or village where everyone drew from for grazing space, water, public discourse, and sometimes garden produce.

The tragedy of the commons was that everyone used as much as possible for private gain while destroying most productive lands in the process.

Shared community good, over time, became sacrificed for an elite few who often proved to be the most selfish and, or, aggressive.

Today, the whole world is the Commons. Each of nearly eight billion people draw their food, water, living wages, and shelter from it. Not at all equally. The richest nations extract profitable resources, and the remaining people glean the rest. Air pollution alone causes premature death of around seven million people per year, higher than COVID, but less traceable.

The consequence of Earth exploitation has been loss of biodiversity, nearly seventy percent of animals gone, loss of forests, grasslands, wetlands, and ocean reefs. The result has been not just a sixth extinction, but the raging clobber of climate crisis itself: intense storms, floods, fires, freezes, famines, and heat waves. And, let’s not forget we also created COVID by wildlife disruption.

Each of these, in turn, brings refugees, political discord, resource wars, illness and despair.

The hope right now is that we may, in fact, vaccinate before the variants run amok and begin anew. Taking care of nations like India right away, and looking toward Latin America and Africa –and other impoverished places — may help us intervene in time.

However, the on-coming train of the NEXT spillover virus is still out there. Hiding in plain sight. Lurking. Waiting.

The CLOT-O-CLOB express is coming. Not if. When.

We have done little to nothing to include safer meat (or even food itself) procurement after COVID. Already the infrastructure plan is costly and controversial.

Oddly, life on Earth is not a high priority, as it is not politically popular.

Facts don’t care about political feelings, however. The zoonotic illness harbored in every species from bats to pangolins is still in the wild which we are failing to protect. When people mess with these habitats and critters, they pay the heaviest price, but we do too.

The zoonotic illness in bird flu, swine flu, cattle, and other livestock is still safe and sound within our hidden factory farms and unhealthy food habits. By overcrowding them together, we ensure the next pathogen will emerge from this type of cluster-muck.

Alternate proteins are scant on the menu, subsidy for lab meat is not.

Instead, we promote antibiotic resistance, for example. We mass feed antibiotics to our meat stock, but after running it through the animals, it runs off (like a crazy, crappy slurry train) into our soils, waters and eventually, into our bodies.

To understand how and why we are treating the symptoms of our disease machine and not hastening to ensure its prevention is complicated. It’s as complicated as our fuel to fertilizer routes, birds and bees dying, farm to fork and globally uneven distribution of food itself. It’s a potato chip and palm oil addiction, an accusation of your own obesity being your fault. It’s a cargo ship wedged into the Suez canal. And much more.

But, also, it is as simple as this: if you eat meat, or know someone who does, you are at higher risk.

If you eat other food, you are at risk.

We are all at risk so long as we accept the status quo of life on Earth as we are presently living it, and we ignore the oncoming CLOT-O-CLOB Express train. We can’t deplete soils, drain water sources, poison pollinators, acidify oceans, pollute air, soil, and water, and expect abundant, safe food.

Why are they doing this?

“Why” is the wrong word to focus upon. The reason why they are doing it, is that there is no “they,” just us. All of us who participate in an unsustainable system are why we are all aboard this crazy train.

We buy our food in plastic that destroys life on land and sea. We use toxins for fuel. We torture animals. We waste everything. We don’t boycott the destructive products. We don’t even charge the profiteers for their pollution.

However, people around the world are beginning to see and feel.

In everything you do, and in every choice that you make, simply consider the amount of suffering involved, and you will soon realize you have power.

Think of how becoming more aware, careful, and caring can alleviate a lot of suffering including the restrictions and limitations during the next pandemic.

Think of the thousands of ways in which we can not only prepare for the next pandemic, but each of us can do all we can to make better choices in buying, and in what, how, where, and who, we eat.

There is some chicken goop for the soul to be found in personal empowerment. Watch this Earth Day 2021 video from Dr. Jane Goodall. Witness Cher trying to save an elephant.

See Greta Thunberg continue to provide facts to the adults in the room who don’t want to hear the truth.

Dr. Jane envisions an enormous mass of children running to our rescue. That’s a very nice image. However, there are still some old people around who have never actually wanted to tie those poor kids to the railroad tracks in the first place. I suspect that you are one of them.

Last I checked, Sir David Attenborough is old, David Suzuki is old, Cher is old, Ellen Stofan is almost old, Bill McKibben is old. Wangari Maathai is old. Dr. Dame Jane herself is getting up there — in chimp years — very old.

Even Neil Young is old.

Check in with these, and several other people to gather your own empowerment and slather on some chicken goop for the soul that will enable us to save the bats and chickens, but also ourselves.

Let’s not just leave it to the children because we older people, like Jane Fonda, Joe Biden and James Hansen, all have lots to do and lots to say, even now.

Who will halt this insanity train so we can arrive, at last, on Earth? Listen to Neil, it’s you and me.

Ecopsychologist, Writer, Farmer, Defender of reality, and Cat Castle Custodian.

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