The Coronavirus is thought to have emerged in one of the wet markets of Wuhan, China. Much of what went on in these markets was never fully legal. Indeed this $13 billion a year trade has often operated in the grey areas of the law.
However, it has become clear that these are actually rather dangerous. It is one thing to enter a wild area to see the animals that live there. However it is something quite different to go in and kill animals to eat. These wild areas often harbour odd viruses or bacteria and by taking animals alive or dead out of these ecosystems you bring out these threats so that we can contract the illness.
Now it is true that many of these bacteria are unable to infect humans, however by spending time in close proximity with these animals you give these pathogens a bigger chance to make the jump to humans. What is more, is that as these pathogens are new to humans, for many our immune system just doesn’t know what to do to combat the threat.
In the months since the pandemic, there has been much discussion as to how we might stop this happening again.
What excites me, is that a carefully thought through approach to solving this might also solve a number of other problems for us.
The main thing that is suggested, is to invest in restoring these degraded habitats to their former glory. This requires replanting deforested areas and halting poaching (among various other things.
If this is carried out in full, it could save us much money. By restoring these habitats, we could largely remove the risk of future viruses emerging from these places, we could save the animals who use the place – if large numbers of forest and savannah around the world are saved in this way, we would likely largely halt the huge number of extinctions occurring. This would also go a long way to saving the earth from global warming. It is certainly true, that this would not deal with the whole issue, however, the replanting of this area of rainforest would given us some breathing space to bring down our carbon emissions to a level that the planet could deal with.
There are many things that we need to change as a race, to be able to live within what the planet can offer. However this would be a huge advance on meeting these goals.