World Environment Day: Dr. Jane Goodall’s COVID-19 message

On World Environment Day and I want us to reflect on this day – as indeed we should be reflecting on every day – that our disrespect of the environment has led to some major problems. First of all, it’s completely crazy to think that we can have unlimited economic development on a planet with finite natural resources. Many of which already in some places are being used up more quickly than nature can replenish them.

“Our population is growing. It’s 7.2 billion roughly now. It’s predicted to be 9.4 billion in 2050 and how will the planet cope? I can’t answer that question, but we must think about it. And of course, we want everybody on the planet to have a good life, but we have to realize that there are three problems that we have to overcome.

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“We must try and alleviate poverty because if you’re really poor you’re going to cut down the last trees in your effort to grow food to feed your family. You will fish the last fish for the same reason. We have to do something to reduce our unsustainable way of life. And we have to try and do something about corruption.

“We’ve been through a very extraordinary time – we’re still going through it – because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and nature’s had a chance in some cases to come back. The amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere have been reduced as factories closed, and as country after country has put people in lockdown, so they could no longer drive and pollute the air with fossil fuels or the burning of fossil fuels. There must be hundreds of thousands of people in the big cities, maybe for the first time ever, who have been able to breathe clean air. What a luxury for them. We take it for granted so many of us. And so now we also look up at the night sky and see the brightness of the stars shining up there. These people are not going to go back to business as usual.

“It’s our disrespect for the natural world that has brought this pandemic upon us. It’s our fault. We’ve done it because of our disrespect of nature and our disrespect of animals. How so? As we destroy forests, for example, the rich biodiversity of animal life is pushed closer together, giving opportunities for viruses and bacteria to jump over from animals to other animals. Then as animals are being pushed into closer contact with us, because of reduced food supplies in their own environment, this again creates a situation where bacteria or viruses can spillover from an animal to a person. And by combining with cells in the body produce sometimes a new disease like COVID-19.”

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Coronavirus: Dr Jane Goodall’s Message of Hope in the Face of COVID-19


Dr. Jane Goodall shares her thoughts in this time of hardship, sharing hope, information and an update about her life at home in UK:

“Hello, this is Jane Goodall.

I want to share my shock and sadness as I track the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus around the world. This pandemic is affecting people everywhere.”

“I’m thinking of those who are sick, and their family and friends, of the doctors and health care practitioners, who are working selflessly to care for their patients. And of the scientists around the world working desperately to find a vaccine or cure. Then there are those who have been laid off work, as the financial crisis deepens and the effect this pandemic is having, on so many industries, especially the transport sector and tourism sector. The sheer scale of all this is terrifying.

“Right now the best way to slow down the spread of the virus is what is called social distancing. I chose to follow the advice of my doctor and friends and remain grounded at home in the uk, just events on my North America were being cancelled. It is frustrating, but i must stay healthy: I have so much more to do before I die!

“Moreover this social distancing is a way not only to protect myself, but others. You might feel fine yourself, but you could be infected without showing the symptoms, and then you could infect others. Especially those who are vulnerable. So if you possibly can, do join me in keeping away from public places. Try not to get close to others, and if you do meet a friend, don’t shake hands, although an elbow bump is permissible. And don’t forget to wash your hands.”

There is one silver lining to this dark cloud. This pandemic has reopened the discussion about the hunting, eating and trafficking of wild animals. COVID-19 is one of those viruses that have crossed the species barrier and jumped from animals to humans. Evidence suggests that the host in this case was a bat, or possible a pangolin, for sale in the wet market of the Chinese city of Wuhan, where live animals are sold for food.

“The SARS pandemic originated in the wet market in Guangdong. The terrible AIDS pandemic came from viruses that jumped from monkeys and chimpanzees sold for meat in Central Africa. Chimpanzees and humans are closely related, we share 98.6% of our DNA, so avoiding contact with them protects them from human infectious diseases, as well as us from theirs. So we must act: not only to protect ourselves, but also the great apes and other species as well.

Thankfully the Chinese government has reacted swiftly and imposed a ban on the trafficking, breeding and selling of wild animals for food, right across the country. We must hope that this ban is permanent and subsequently must include wild animals used in China for other purposes, especially traditional medicine.

“This would set an example to all countries where wild animals are exploited for food, research, medicine, for their skins or for trophies hunted by the wealthy, such as rhinos for their horns, elephants for horns, and others for heads stuffed and hung on the wall. in other words: countries all around the world. This would at least eliminate one cause of future pandemics.

“At times like this we see the worst and best in human nature. Since the coronavirus began the spread around the world, there have been hundreds of reports of hate crimes against the Chinese and other people of asian origin. And there are reports of people who have stolen masks and hand sanitisers from hospitals.

“But, there are far more stories of people caring for the sick, donating masks where they are needed, ensuring the housebound have sufficient food, reaching out (without touching) to those who are discriminated against.

“So many people during these dark days, are showing the best of human qualities: compassion and altruism. Let’s all use the gift of our lives to make this world a better place, especially at this time.

“Together we shall get through this really difficult time, and we shall have learnt what is truly important in life: family, friendship, love and, above all, our health. “

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