Covid-19: A call to save the planet, writes Valmik Thapar – analysis
Our world lies torn and shattered, and all because of an invisible virus that was probably released by a horseshoe bat. In our understanding of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), one critical factor stands out. The destruction of wildlife and wildlife habitats led to its creation.
It could be from Wuhan’s horrible wet wildlife markets or experiment with bats in a Wuhan laboratory or destroy bat habitats that led to a crisis in which millions of people are infected and hundreds of thousands are dead.
Intermediate species such as pangolin could have helped mutate this virus and,
For the past decade, humans have left no stone unturned to decimate pangolins and smuggle them into wildlife markets. They could easily have been the intermediate species.
China is hugely responsible for demand and should be embarrassed worldwide. I blame his actions directly. I took a close look at its huge role in the tiger crisis that engulfed India since the 1990s for two decades. I observed its increasing presence in Africa and the resulting decline in African wildlife. At many international meetings over the past 30 years, it was warned to end illegal wildlife trafficking and markets. I do not pay attention to it. Many wildlife warriors fought to prevent China from playing this highly destructive role.
But China, as a world economic power, cared little and sank regardless of its folly for wild animal parts and associated medicine. As far as I’m concerned, this virus is the result of this. This virus is also the result of the actions of all those political and business leaders who did not care. All those who mocked and mocked the warriors of nature, abused those who served both wildlife and nature.
The lack of respect that many of those who serve nature have suffered is shocking. Many of us are angry and unforgiving. Our warnings over the past 50 years have come true. We have worked tirelessly to prioritize the protection of our natural world. Very few who played politics or made decisions listened. Today, they should be drowning in guilt. Large companies have failed in nature. Few give grants to protect him. Corporate leaders prefer to remain ignorant of the ways of nature. Now they have been beaten where it hurts the most. Trillions of dollars lost, and stagnant economies. If we wake up from this nightmare, will they learn? Will they shed their arrogance? The less said about our politicians and bureaucrats, the better.
I remember how hard I tried to get Prime Minister (PM) Manmohan Singh to create a forest and wildlife department (which did not exist in the ministry of environment and forests) so that this essential sector was properly governed. The idea was to create a separate ministry over time and allow an environment and climate change ministry to be independent of it. He agreed with my logic (10 years ago) and instructed that it should be done. But a lot of secretaries vetoed it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not held a meeting of the National Wildlife Board in seven years. Nobody cares. They still don’t realize that the virus they deal with originates from wildlife and is unleashed due to poor governance. They don’t realize that India is in dire straits, the economy is a mess, and life has been cut short because of the way we deal with the natural world and its myriad species.
Prime ministers, ministers, political leaders, bureaucrats, business leaders, and society must be polite and prompt, as nature’s time bomb is working. This coronavirus is a warning shot on the bow. The next time, nature will release a virus that will be much more virulent.
This global pandemic could have come much earlier. He did not do so due to the tireless service of the warriors of nature and the warriors of wildlife. These people come from all walks of life, in villages, towns and cities and spend their time passionately defending nature. Without them, we would not have a world to live in. They provide the most essential service for the nation, but are not recognized or respected. More often than not, they are relegated to oblivion. We need to remember everyone today and say hi.
Who are these people? They are, among others, the 150,000 forest officers and forest guards. About 100,000 are scientists, wildlife watchers, wildlife travel promoters, wildlife hotel creators, wildlife photographers, wildlife filmmakers, writers, conservationists, naturalists, village volunteers, and non-governmental organizations. We need to celebrate them when we get out of this crisis. The Prime Minister must brainstorm with them. You cannot run an economy without a healthy natural world. This virus reveals how easily economic collapse comes. World leaders will have to put forests, wildlife and the environment at the top of the agenda if they do not want to be affected by more disease and death.
Economic recoveries must be green. We can no longer harm the natural wealth of our country or of any country. This Wuhan virus has shown that it can bring the world to its knees. That is the interdependence of today’s world. The healing nature should be our call sign. Our leadership on this planet must awaken to a new era in which life, the economy, and its design are not wasteful, non-exploitative, and tempered with great respect for nature.
The prevention of global warming and the climate crisis must be immediate priorities. This virus has revealed how our planet is vulnerable and without healing nature, we as a human race will die. Let us learn our lessons and act hand in hand with the natural world. We need an educated and enlightened medium to do its homework. We need urgent global meetings of world leaders on forests and wildlife. We need global decisions to close wet markets and wildlife trade. We need to find non-invasive solutions for our future. Enough of diplomacy; Time to call things by their names. Enough of G7 and G20 complies. They need to be restructured in light of what has happened.
Our mission today must be to create key strategies to protect natural ecosystems, wildlife and all life that abounds in it. If we do not accomplish this mission, there is no hope for the future of our planet.
Valmik Thapar has worked for 45 years with wild tigers. He has also written 30 books on tigers and wildlife in India.
The opinions expressed are personal.