PUBLISHED: THE HILL: Changing America by Cyril Christo, Opinion Contributor March 30, 2020
“We’re under some gross misconception that we’re a good species, going somewhere important, and that at the last minute we’ll correct our errors and God will smile on us. It’s delusion.” –Farley Mowat
“We fear,” an Innuit Shaman once answered to a question posed by Knud Rasmussen, the great Greenlandic explorer, “We fear the cold and the things we do not understand. But most of all we fear the doings of the heedless ones among ourselves.” The heedless ones among us in the technological society that have done so much to destabilize, and destroy ancient traditions are those who do not understand that this virus is the tip of the iceberg of other possible pandemics to come.
As habitat disappears in South Papua for palm plantations, what will emerge? Palm oil giant Olam is looking to do the same in Gabon, one of the most important countries left in Africa for the diminishing rainforest elephant. Our civilization’s relationship to the soil, the 3 billion more people we will need to feed in two generations, is almost exhausted. Witness the exorbitant strains agriculture has imposed on the world; the pesticides that are wreaking havoc on insects worldwide. How many of us think of the abject pain industrial farmed animals feel?
This situation was compassionately described by Joaquin Phoenix in his Academy Award speech, when he reminded us of the suffering a single mother cow feels deprived of her calf. And we as a society don’t even think twice as we pour her milk into our coffee or cereal. Never mind the tens of thousands of wild mammal, bird, amphibian, fish and reptile species on the endangered species list forced to live on the bare minimum of what was once a paradise.
We have to wake up. The coronavirus is the first lesson of its kind at this magnitude to make inroads into our psyche and blood. It will not be the last, but if we don’t change the way we behave, by then it will be too late.
Worse viruses like cousins of Ebola may well ensue. Our food resources and ability to care for the environment will become increasingly challenged over the next generation. All of which will depend on climate. Once the worst of the coronavirus is past can we not forget the overwhelming immunological danger that comes from the pronounced heat of the world? The heedless ones are the bureaucrats who can pour 2 trillion in immediate aid, which the country needs but who willfully neglect the less obvious trillions needed to combat global warming. Their eyes are on corporate profits. Their vision is myopic and heedless. We need to care for the body but we cannot neglect our house, the Earth. They are the Scylla and Charybdis of our time, the climate and the coronavirus.
photo by ©Cyril Christo