by Noel Ullom

The worldwide pandemic known as the coronavirus has stirred many concerns and questions all around the globe. Not only do these include conversations surrounding how to help people to cope and recover in the current climate, but it has also sparked conversation about how the present situation is a reflection of our society and decisions made previous to the immersion of the virus. One of these discussions that is less talked about today in the media or amongst leaders, however, is its reflection on humans’ interactions with nature and what it may mean for the future in this arena.

    I read an article by Jane Goodall recently that highlighted this important issue, and I was fascinated by the huge impacts and connections between the coronavirus and previous problems that nature had been facing that she discussed. Throughout the article, she highlighted some of the most severe issues that wildlife is facing today: wildlife trafficking and the destruction of their homes. As nature is being cut down and destroyed due to human accidents or for the exploitation of resources, wildlife loses variation in locations in which to live and thrive, and are often forced to more unusual conditions (sometimes closer to human beings). Along these lines, the market of wildlife trafficking also results in poor handling and close proximity to wildlife that can be very dangerous. As a result, we see even more serious issues such as the coronavirus being brought to life (evidence shows that the virus emerged from a live animal market).

    Patterns of the risky nature of being too close to wildlife include not only its negative effects on us, but also we affect them. Apes and monkeys are one of these examples, as they are known for sharing very similar biology with human beings. Due to the current virus that has infected and terribly impacted humans, however, this has caused them to be victims of the illness as well. They too suffer awful respiratory illnesses, including the coronavirus, as they have been passed down from humans.

    These threats have further raised the concerns and brought about more discussions about the issues of destruction of nature and wildlife trafficking, as they have begun and worsened the effects of the coronavirus. However, there is also another serious problem that is being more frequently discussed in the midst of the coronavirus: what it means for climate change. In policy terms, Bill Gates stated that the challenges of the virus and climate change are actually quite similar as they both require “innovation and science, and the world working together.” As the world makes rapid changes and decisions under the pressure of the coronavirus, hope may be sparked for the necessary response to climate change as well. In order to meet goals of slowing down carbon emissions, leaders will have to hold a similar sense of strength and unity when fighting the issue of climate change. Some people fear that the virus may instead have a counter effect, causing the issue of climate change to be pushed down on the political agenda. However, others say that the sudden shock of the virus may be the push that leaders needed to be more precautionary of future risks, and therefore willing to make more choices on behalf of fighting climate change.

    The current strange and worrisome atmosphere that the coronavirus has placed upon people all across the globe raises many concerns and questions as to what it will mean for times to come, including for nature. Though we cannot be sure of the future at the present moment, looking at the world’s current state not only gives us a glimpse into the future of our economy, but also for the possible outcomes when it comes to our treatment of nature and climate change.