Where Is Our Human: Rewilding In The Age Of COVID-19

Image: A Chinese woman holds her dog, both wearing protective masks. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images 

Over the last three and a half years this country has been faced with a considerable amount of change. Every day there seems to be a new normal for us to conform to. And just when you thought you had adjusted and learned to accept the “New Normal”, BANG there is something new that takes you by surprise and sends you into a spiral of confusion, disbelief and of course, fear. 

The change that we are facing today, will have long term ramifications and effects on our country and the global economy for years to come. There isn’t a word, phrase news article or tv show that we can get away from that is not talking about the global Pandemic that is upon us. CORONAVIRUS or COVID19 as it is referred to as the next evolution of flu-like viruses that has stricken our world. 

There have been many viruses and the fear of Pandemics in years past, but none that seem to have taken over our lives and our world as this one has. I keep thinking about what seems to be a progression of viruses that continually get stronger and smarter in their ability to change and morph themselves into other strains, becoming more resistant to medications and inoculations. Is it possible that there is a connection to the state of our environment, our climate change crisis and this pandemic of Coronavirus? 

Let start with how this particular virus came to be. Apparently the SARS virus of 2003 and this NOVEL CORONAVIRUS started in “Wet Markets” in China. At these markets, outdoor stalls are squeezed together where residents and visitors shop for meat and produce. But…..* Wet markets put people and live and dead animals — dogs, chickens, pigs, snakes, civets, and more — in constant close contact. That makes it easy for zoonotic diseases to jump from animals to humans. “Poorly regulated, live-animal markets mixed with illegal wildlife trade offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spillover from wildlife hosts into the human population,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement. 

All of this is disturbing, But it is the part about the illegal wildlife trade that I want to focus on. According to Business Insiders, February 26th article **Much of China’s wildlife trade was already illegal: China’s Wildlife Protection Law bans the hunting and selling of endangered species but doesn’t apply to all wild animals. But the practice persisted because of lax enforcement and legal loopholes, such as inconsistencies in species’ names and online sales of exotic wildlife as pets. Li Zhang, a conservation biologist at Beijing Normal University said: “That wildlife trade and consumption was both a direct threat to animals and a major public-health risk.” 

In these markets, endangered species are kept live in cages. They are then slaughtered on the spot when someone purchases them, skinned and filleted for cooking. The consumer then leaves with the illegally poached endangered species that they will cook and eat. When are we going to figure out that perhaps we are not supposed to do these things and that the aftermath of these practices are diseases and potentially death? When will we stop being so selfish and single-minded?  

A man with a pangolin at a wild-animal rescue center in Cuc Phuong, outside Hanoi, Vietnam, on September 12, 2016. Kham/Reuters
A man with a pangolin at a wild-animal rescue center in Cuc Phuong, outside Hanoi, Vietnam, on September 12, 2016. Kham/Reuters

These inhumane and barbaric markets in China have been creating diseases like COVID19 since ancient times. But we know better now, health regulations and science have taught us how diseases and pathogens work. So why do they insist on these barbaric and inhumane practices knowing that these practices create new diseases? Perhaps there is a message that we as humans just can’t seem to hear. We feel that we have the right to destroy and take from nature whatever we want, and at any cost, and in China that cost is estimated at 7 Billion Dollars as that is what the wild animal industry garners. Imagine how many animals are illegally hunted and killed for an industry worth 7 Billion Dollars. 

Here in America, we are no better, we just seem more civilized about the way we hunt down and torture our animals. Most of America does not know that the government rounds up wild horses by helicopter, runs them down, with some horses flipping over and breaking their legs, to put them in holding pens that are nothing more than a prison. After that, sending them off to inhumane slaughter facilities seems almost kinder. 

Guangzhou government officers seize civet cats in the Xinyuan wildlife market in Guangzhou to prevent the spread of the SARS disease, January 5, 2004. Dustin Shum/South. China Morning Post via Getty Images.
Guangzhou government officers seize civet cats in the Xinyuan wildlife market in Guangzhou to prevent the spread of the SARS disease, January 5, 2004. Dustin Shum/South. China Morning Post via Getty Images.
Horses being rounded up by helicopters as part of Bureau of Land Management programs.

Or how our government randomly poisons over 300 million small animals and birds on public rangelands yearly all for the benefit of cattle ranching, oil fracking, and drilling industries. These are the things that cost the taxpayer in excess of 80 million dollars. 

We are not creating viruses like in China, we are just poising our lands and creating a world where our livestock is full of steroids and chemicals, eating genetically modified organisms, on depleted rangelands. All creating a world of various cancers for humans to contend with. 

Complicated situations to change which all revolves around greed and industry. Wet markets in China and the destruction of our environments and lands here in America. But…. there is a way we can start changing the future. We must REWILD our way of thinking. We have to take a step back and see that the greatest and most important assets that we have are the lands and the animals that call them home. Somewhere in the connection between those two things and us, lies our humanity, and we desperately need to find it again. 

Rewilding or creating “Novel Ecosystems” is the key to our health, physically, mentally and environmentally. Valuing and protecting all wildlife no matter what their intrinsic value is, will help to bring back our grasslands and species that cohabit on the lands. Thus creating an opportunity to decrease carbon mitigation and slow down climate change, building healthy clean environments. 

These rewilded relationships we need to build with nature are the same relationships we need to build with our global partners in the hope of understanding the value and importance of all things from a greater perspective not only our global economy. Our humanity and health hang in the balance in order to eliminate the threat of these pandemics and climate crisis. 

I do not want my children and grandchildren to grow up in some science fiction-like lifestyle where there are no animals, no lands, just urbanization, and diseases all brought on by our lack of humanity, and greed. The money will mean nothing when there is no planet left and diseases are rampant. 

But we can choose to do something about it and do it now. Speak up about the atrocities that are befalling our lands, animals and our way of life. Contact your legislators and vote for the representatives that will follow an agenda of humane and ethical rewilding opportunities and find a balance between industry and the value of our natural world. Create your own rewilding spaces in your backyards and invite nature back and see how your life changes. 

Rewild our world for the sake of our humanity. 

* Business Insider- Both the new coronavirus and SARS outbreaks likely started in Chinese wet markets. Aylin Woodward Feb 26, 2020, 3:04 PM 

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