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COVID-19: The Great Awakening

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

COVID-19 is humanity's wake-up call that all is not well with our planet, our home. It is the awakening that we need to change before it's too late.

COVID-19 pandemic impacting the world - Green Karma

There is a tune from Sesame Street that I particularly loved as a kid. It’s called Big Blue Marble and its lyrics go:

“The Earth’s a big blue marble

When you see it from out there

The sun and moon declare

Our beauty’s very rare”

Yes, the Earth is indeed beautiful with its swathes of blue and green visible amidst swirling clouds of white. It is the only known planet for water to naturally exist in liquid form, providing an invaluable force for sustaining life. It is home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna, with an estimated 8.7 million species of plants and animals in existence.

Rise of Human Dominance

Of all the species that inhabited the Earth, none have had a more successful proliferation throughout time as humans. It took 200,000 years of history to reach a global human population of one billion in 1800. And a mere 200 years to explode to almost 8 billion.

Agricultural and industrial revolutions in the last two centuries have largely played a role in this. The former gave rise to increased crop and livestock yields, feeding population growth. And the latter brought about advancements in transportation, food distribution, sanitation and medicine.

Humankind has prospered so successfully on the sheer might of our ingenuity that we are now the most dominant species on Earth, poised to reach an estimated 10 billion in 2050.

We are the king of the food chain, the proverbial “Winner in life” …... Or are we?

Unfortunately, the Earth is a zero-sum game

Enter the Pandemic

Unfortunately, the Earth is a zero-sum game. Resources are finite and where there are massive wins on one side, there will be equally massive losses on the other. About a third of the world’s forests have been lost due to human activity throughout the millennia, half of which occurring in the last century.[1]

The impacts of deforestation on the environment and the loss of biodiversity has been well documented. Increasingly coming to attention is its role in zoonosis - the transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans.

Urbanisation and the destruction of natural habitats have forced wildlife to come into closer contact with humans, increasing the risk and exposure to zoonotic diseases. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), deforestation is linked to 31% of outbreaks such as Ebola, and the Zika and Nipah viruses.[2]

31% of outbreaks such as Ebola, and the Zika and Nipah viruses are linked to deforestation

Agricultural expansion continues to be the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation, with almost half of the world’s habitable land now used for agriculture.[3] Of this, only 23% is used to grow crops for human consumption, and a whopping 77% is used for livestock.

Distribution of agricultural land use for crops vs animals
More than three quarters of farm land is used for animal farming